Athearn Model Trains
Irv Athearn started The Athearn Company in 1938. He initially launched his business by building a big O scale layout at his parents residence which he subsequently sold for ten thousand dollars. For this period that was a lot of cash and it gave the Athearn Company a very good start to life.
By 1946 Irv had turned his hobby into a full on assembly and production team still working in the limited space of his parents house. It was time to expand. He relocated to Hawthorne, California in 1948 with the release of the HO scale type model trains.
In 1952 Athearn introduced the HO 200-Ton Crane in die-cast metal followed by the all-metal RDC-1, RDC-2, RDC-3 and RDC-4 the following year. In 1958 Athearn introduced the plastic-bodied RDC-1 and RDC-3, powered by the Hi-F Drive, and a plastic version of the 200-Ton Crane. Athearn continued to produce more and more HO locomotives and rolling stock. In 1991 Irv Athearn passed away but Athearn Model Trains continued to grow after his death.
In 2002 Athearn introduced the N Scale product line and secured the John Deere licensing.
In 2004 Athearn was bought out by Horizon Hobby Inc. In the same year Model Die Casting and the Roundhouse brand was also purchased by Horizon Hobby. Model Die Casting has been dedicated to crafting models since 1938 and the Roundhouse® brand emphasises the early years of steam era railroading. It was announced that the Roundhouse name will be used only for Pre-WWII products, with the rest of the Roundhouse line under the Athearn name. Roundhouse manufactured both N and HO products.
In 2006 Athearn introduced the 4-6-6-4 Challenger in N Scale and the Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 Big Boy the following year. In 2006 McHenry Couplers was purchased by Horizon Hobby and in 2009 McHenry began offering N scale couplers.