|Written by Paul D. Race for and
For many people, nothing brings back Christmas memories like the site of a train circling a Christmas tree - a century-old tradition. In the early days, tinplate or cardboard buildings were often set up near the tracks, a tradition that presaged today's porcelain holiday villages, many of which include trains as well.
The first Big Christmas TrainsTM page was set up in 2004 as a "buyer's guide" to answer reader questions about what kind of trains go best with Christmas trees or villages (or, in some cases, both). More questions came in, and we put up other pages to answer those questions. Eventually, we even started a newsletter for folks interested in Christmas villages and the trains that go with them. We've also explored the topic of setting up big outdoor railroads at Christmas. In other words, we started out using the word "big" to describe the trains. But the hobbies we've supported and - in at least one case - started have become "big" as well, leading to dozens of articles spread across three different web sites.
So it's high time to have an index page that pulls all of these resources together in one place for folks who haven't spent as much time surfing our sites as we have building them. That said, when we started this project we realized that there was a lot of information we should have included but hadn't yet. So many of the articles we link to on this page were either created or seriously updated in the last few years. Enjoy!
What is a Christmas Train?On these pages, we use the term Christmas Train to describe electric trains that are decorated specifically for Christmas, or any trains that are used only during the holiday season. They may be set up indoors or out; they may run around trees or around towns, or they may just bump back and forth on the bookcase. Also, "big" means trains that are bigger than the ever-popular HO scale trains, which are nevertheless too small to use effectively with Christmas trees or even with most Christmas villages.
Which Christmas Train Should I Buy?
Many folks want to know which train they should buy, but of course different kinds of trains work for different kinds of setups. We recommend that you check out the first few articles that this page links to before you make your decision. But if you're in a real hurry, here's a very short list to give you a head start.
Links to Big Christmas Train Articles
Here are links to articles you will find useful when you are choosing and using a Big Christmas Train.
Links to Christmas Train and Town ProjectsThe following articles from our collection have free instructions and plans for inexpensive projects that will look great on your mantel, holiday village, or railroad. Several other articles that apply to any indoor village or railroad are listed farther down the page. Enjoy, but let us know if you find the articles useful.
In addition, you can help by sending us project tips, article ideas, and photos of your railroads and villages. We want this site to be as useful as possible to as many people as it can be. As the hobbies we serve grow, we all benefit.
Links to Other Primer Articles about Model Train ScalesIf you're concerned about the scales of your trains and towns, and the articles above don't give you all of the information you need, check out the following. Once you've taken a look, let us know if you still have questions.
Setting Up Outdoor Christmas TrainsHere are some articles about what we went through to get our outdoor (garden) railroad ready for Christmas displays the last few years:
Links to More Helpful SitesIf you've tried any of the links above, you'll notice that some of them are on our "sister sites," of which there are many. Back in 1999 when I started my first model-train-related site, it never occurred to me that it would stir up so much interest in so many related subjects - or that articles on those subjects would stir up so much interest in other subjects. Eventually our first two sites grew so large and addressed so many topics that they were almost impossible to administrate. Since then, whenever I get a lot of questions about a particular topic, I evaluate whether it makes more sense to start a new site than to try to shoehorn another subject into one of our existing sites. In most case, the new, targeted site, also adds readers and grows rapidly, too, so this seems like the way to go. At the moment, I have twenty-some active domain names serving about twelve different web pages, most of which have their own sets of readers, although I do combine newsletters where I can. The following list does NOT show all of our web pages - only the ones that have at least some information that might be of interest to folks who like Christmas trains and towns. As always, if you have any questions, please contact us, and we'll do our best to answer your question in a timely manner - or point you to the answer if we've already spelled it out somewhere.
In the meantime, the following list provides links to web sites that may help your Christmas train and town hobby. Most are mine, though a few belong to friends who have helped me and my readers.
Note: Family Garden TrainsTM, Garden Train StoreTM, and Big Christmas TrainsTM are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications (www.btcomm.com). All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are
Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 by Paul D. Race.
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