The National Toy Train Museum - Atlas Obscura

The National Toy Train Museum

A comprehensive collection of toy and model trains, largely from the mid-20th century. 

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Model trains have been popular ever since there were trains, ranging from children’s toys to the painstakingly detailed working models of dedicated enthusiasts. Such models remain popular today, with legions of devotees. And children’s train sets, of course, also remain ubiquitous.

Nonetheless, the heyday of toy trains was probably in the mid-20th century, before the competition from video and computer games. The electric train set, simulated smoke pouring from its electrically powered “steam” locomotive, was a childhood icon in North America. 

The Toy Train Museum evokes those nostalgic images. Layouts of various gauges are on display, ranging from the tiny N-gauge through the popular HO and O to the enormous G scale. Many of these layouts can be operated by the viewer. Extensive static displays of train sets, and associated prefab models for furnishing train layouts, are also exhibited. Some price lists, dating to the first half of the 20th century, will be a source of bemusement.

Unusually, the Toy Train Museum also includes an extensive library on toy and model trains, including back issues of hobbyist magazines. It is a valuable resource both for enthusiasts and scholarly research.

Know Before You Go

The Toy Train Museum is easily found on Paradise Lane just north of Pennsylvania State Route 741. There is ample parking at the site. Check the website for hours and current admission prices.


The Red Caboose Motel sits immediately south of the museum and includes a restaurant. This motel consists of rooms made of old cabooses, which adds to the railroad ambiance. Other railroad-related attractions, including excursion trains on the Strasburg Rail Road, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, and the Choo-Choo Barn, are in the immediate vicinity and worth attention.


The area lies at the edge of the Amish country; horse-drawn vehicles will be encountered on the public roads. Take care accordingly.

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December 12, 2023

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