The original Lionel Corporation was founded in New York as an electrical novelty company (1900), by Joshua Lionel Cowen and Harry C. Grant. Lionel's first train, the Electric Express, was intended as a store display, not for sale to the public. However, the public expressed more interest in the train than the items being advertised. The Electric Express was battery powered, and ran on brass track.
By 1906, Lionel trains were advertised as The Standard of the World, running on what became known as Standard Gauge track, with rails 2 7/8th inches apart. 0 gauge track was introduced in 1915.
Lionel flourished in the pre war and early post war eras, but falling sales lead to the sale of tooling and a licence for the Lionel name to General Mills in 1967, leading to the Modern Era (1967-2000). General Mills operated Lionel as part of the Model Products Corporation (MPC) until 1973, at which point Lionel became part of the General Mills Fundimensions group. Lionel was sold again in 1986, becoming Lionel Trains Inc, owned by Richard Kughn. Next comes the current Wellspring era, when Lionel was sold by Richard Kughn in 1995. For far more details of the history and ownership of the Lionel name and products, please refer to Wikipedia.
This web page is dedicated to the 0 gauge production of the Lionel Corporation, 1915 to 1967 - the pre and post war 0 gauge eras.