See the "Lady Lionel" at the California Railroad Museum. Photo courtesy of Brian Baer, State Parks photographer.


‘Lady Lionel’ train makes her debut

SACRAMENTO — California State Parks and the California State Railroad Museum & Foundation recognize August 2017 as Toy Train Month, an annual celebration that focuses on the popular Thomas W. Sefton Gallery and Small Wonders: The Magic of Toy Trains exhibit.

Coinciding with Toy Train Month, the Railroad Museum will debut a prized pastel-colored No. 1587S 027 “Lady Lionel” train set. Originally manufactured in 1957 — and, at the time, considered to be the biggest flop in Lionel’s history — the boxed set includes five freight cars, a steam locomotive and tender along with five pieces of straight track, eight curved track, a transformer and an uncoupling section.

In an attempt to branch out to new audiences, Lionel boldly debuted the pastel-colored train set to try to appeal to young girls at a time when toys didn’t typically cross gender lines (Barbie dolls and tea sets were for girls while chemistry and train sets were for boys.) Only about 5,000 of these train sets were produced by Lionel and are now considered a prized acquisition among collectors.

Beginning in August 2017, visitors to the Railroad Museum will be able to see this rarity thanks to the California State Railroad Museum Foundation that successfully secured the prized “Lady Lionel” train set to add to the museum’s impressive collection.

The “Lady Lionel” joins the museum’s extensive and internationally recognized toy train collection that was donated by the Sefton family in 2002. Accumulated over four decades by the late Mr. Thomas W. Sefton, the collection includes 20th century toy trains, Buddy “L” riding toys and railroad-related artifacts, featuring approximately 7,000 toy trains and a variety of accessories, such as locomotives and railroad cars from companies including Buddy “L,” Ives, American Flyer, Marklin, Marx and Lionel. The Small Wonders exhibit showcases approximately 1,000 vintage toy trains, six interactive displays and a magnificent operating toy train layout with special pieces that are rotated regularly and decorated for the holidays and changing seasons.

Railroad Museum admission is $12 for adults, $6 for youth (ages 6-17) and children ages 5 and younger are free. More information about the California State Railroad Museum is available at (916) 323-9280 or

Traci Rockefeller Cusack


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