Irv Athearn, the founder of the Athearn Company, began his passion of collecting and assembling model trains in the year 1938. His work started at his mother s house, filling in an elaborate O-scale layout, changing it every now and then. This collection proved to be worth about $10000, and the response to his advertisement made him think about it as a business and profession.
Thus, the selling of trains started from his mother s house and by 1946, he became a full-time railroad retailer. He established an outlet in Hawthrone, California in 1948, when he branched out into HO model trains apart from O-scale models. His HO trains took shape into a new series as the reefer kit with a preassembled body and spot-welded underframe, which was a precursor to the Ready to Roll line. The products of the company found its way into the market with a reputation of innovations in quality, workmanship and excellent value.
Irv constantly changed his models, keeping up with the latest trend, and stayed up in the market through the years. After Irv Athearn passed away in 1991, the company strives to be as strong as ever, continuing Irv s pledge maintaining the standard in quality and innovation. They added the Genesis line of premium models, obtained license for John Deere kits and tractors, acquired Rail Power Products,INC, and came up with the N-scale products. They then acquired the Model Die Casting to launch the 1:50 scale precision products and other models like Challenger with sound. Currently they are proud makers and owners of about 2000 items and have also come up with custom products with corporate logo, for minimum run quantities.
The company is well known for its HO train sets of the various series, namely Iron Horse, Warbonnet, Heavyweight Passenger and Streamlined Passenger. Locomotives, various kinds of Rolling stock, Vehicles & accessories, and other products are available in the HO scale. The HO premium trains have the locomotives and the Rolling stock products.
The latest range of products include various new models in the Genesis models with Tsunami sound and DCC control from SoundTraxx. The HO Ready to Roll series has a few additions with colourful paint and numbering schemes and separately applied parts like MU hoses, coupler lift bars and air hoses. The N-scale products also have expanded with new paint schemes and safety slogans.