What do Neil Young and model railroads have in common? Quite a lot, actually. Not only has Young been an avid fan of Lionel toy trains since the ’70s, he also helped invent a new control system and sound system for Lionel in 1992 that changed model railroading forever. The sound system brought realistic sounds to model trains, while the control system allowed the trains to be operated by remote control. He even eventually became part of an ownership group that would buy Lionel just a few years later. His minority shareholder status ended in 2004, but he still remains a consultant for the company.
What does all of this have to do with Chattanooga? Well, if you’re an avid model railroader, you already know that there’s a Lionel convention happening at the Chattanooga Choo Choo this week. But if you’re not in the loop, and want to see what all the fuss is about, you can come to the Lionel Collectors Club of American Trading Hall, a free and open to the public event happening at Track 29 on the last day of the convention, July 20.
Running from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., the Trading Hall will contain approximately 150 tables full of model trains, parts and accessories for sale, including rare and in-demand items. Collectors often bring their wish lists to trading hall events, hoping to find pieces they’ve been searching for, perhaps for years. If you’re a collector, the Track 29 Trading Hall might be your lucky day.
While the event is free, donations will be accepted to benefit Erlanger Children’s Hospital. Even if you’re not into model trains now, you might just find a newfound interest—or at least, you can try to figure out why Neil Young is so infatuated with these tiny trains.