One of the best ways is to visit a local toy train shop. There you'll find lots of toy trains and equipment. More important, you'll find people who love toy trains and are happy to share their ideas and knowledge.
You will also find that right in your community there are lots of people with toy train layouts in their houses. You may hear about them in the local paper around the Holidays, but they're always eager to show them off and give advice to newcomers. Even local clubs devoted to toy trains! Many of these people belong to the Train Collectors Association.
World's Greatest Hobby is a great place to find lots of information about toy trains, and about the leading manufacturers. It also has links to a number of the major toy train manufacturers, and other railroad hobby organizations who sponsor the site. Lists of model train clubs, hobby shops, frequently asked questions, and more.
CLASSIC TOY TRAINS magazine is the source of information for Lionel, MTH, K-Line, American Flyer, and other toy trains manufactured from today back to 1900. In the pages of CLASSIC TOY TRAINS magazine you'll find information about building, operating, and enhancing toy train layouts; track plans, repair and maintenance tips, profiles of collectible postwar and prewar trains, and more.
Model Railroader features step-by-step products, fascinating photo tours of layouts, insightful reviews, tips from the experts, and much more.
Railroad Model Craftsmen provides monthly tips on model railroading, lists books you can order, and provides great information about the hobby. Carsten Publications also put out other material on real trains.
Greenberg's Books, published by Kalmbach Publishing, cover a wide array of toy train information, with special focus on toy train history, Lionel trains, operation and repair, and price guides.
Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, near the National Toy Train Museum in Strasburg, PA, gives you a great chance to see real historic trains, plus a number of toy trains on display and in operation. Hands-on operating for kids too! See their Kids Corner on their web site.
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