The Marx Glendale station is the largest tinplate passenger train stations Marx produced during the post-war era. It, along with three other stations, replaced an earlier, smaller, and less ambitious station from the pre-war era, and solved more than one problem for Marx.
The Marx Glendale station bore the name of the West Virginia town where its largest factory stood. It had three variants, including one that played back a voice recording when you turned a crank.
Significance of the name Glendale
In his January 2005 article about Marx post-war tin stations, the late Classic Toy Trains and Model Railroader editor Neil Besougloff noted that the names of the three stations sounded like all-American suburbs. And the name was certainly a departure from competitor Lionel, who typically stamped all their stations Lionel City.
But there was more to the city names than just an attempt at versatility. In the case of Glendale, it was the location of its largest toy factory. Appropriately, its largest station bore the same name as its largest factory.
The Girard and Oak Park stations have a different significance. Girard, Pennsylvania was the location of its train factory. Oak Park was actually named for a Chicago suburb where Sears executives lived. Sears was a large reseller of Marx trains.
The Girard and Oak Park stations were made in the Girard factory. The Glendale station was made in the Glendale factory. So the stations really were made in their namesake factories.
Glendale station variations
The Glendale station is larger than the Girard and Oak Park stations, which resembled a hip-roof-architecture traditional train station very much like what you found in small towns and suburbs throughout the United States. The design was a bit more modern, with more detailed lithography, including open doors and a view of what was going on inside.
The Glendale station came in three variants: a bare station, one with lights, and one with sound.
Besougloff noted that the lithography on the Marx stations was less ambitious than many pre-war stations. But I think that’s a little unfair to the Glendale station. I wouldn’t put the Girard or Oak Park stations up against the best work of Bing or Ives, but the Glendale station comes closer. The prewar stations are more elaborate, but the architecture the stations were trying to depict was more elaborate too. The Glendale station is a nice and attractive representation of a station from a later period in time.
If you want a layout that blurs the lines between prewar and postwar tinplate, I think the 1950s tin litho Glendale station is a reasonable choice.
Marx also made a prewar depot with the Glendale name on it, and a postwar plastic station lettered Glendale.
Was Glendale Marx’s largest station?
People will frequently say the Marx Glendale station was the largest tinplate station Marx made. It’s the largest passenger station they made, and the largest O gauge station they made. But Marx did make a larger freight station that they sold as a playset. The freight station is bigger, and more appropriate in size for Standard Gauge.
Some people will use the freight station on a Marx layout, but it takes up a lot of room and dwarfs most of Marx’s trains.
Why put a sound in a station?
Lionel put sound in its locomotives, and you use a pushbutton, either on a separate accessory controller or the transformer, to make the sound activate. It worked by injecting DC power onto the rails, and the polarity determined whether you would get a diesel horn sound or a whistle sound.
But there was no practical way to put voice in the engine using 1950s technology.
Noma, the famous maker of Christmas tree lights, made a station with sound that used a vinyl record. Marx copied that concept with its Glendale station. You operate the sound in the Glendale station via a hand crank.
If you want sound effects regardless of the brand of train you run, one way to get them is to put Marx stations and/or American Flyer billboards on your layout to get the sound effects that you want. Of course, you can accomplish something similar with modern electronics, if you don’t care about using modern conveniences on your vintage layout. But if you want vintage sound effects, sound-emitting stations like the Marx Glendale station was the way our forerunners did it in the 1950s.
Marx Glendale station value
The Glendale station is harder to find than the Girard station, and correspondingly more expensive. You can expect to pay around $40 for an unlighted version and closer to $75 for an example with sound or accessories, assuming they are complete and in nice condition. You can find one on Ebay if you are in the market for one, it just may require some patience.
Setup and use
The Glendale station doesn’t need power. If you want to light it up, put some Marx lamp posts nearby, such as the colorful Marx 408s.
Having a Marx station with sound, in combination with American Flyer billboards or other Marx stations with sound, can add life to your layout, especially if you run Marx or American Flyer trains that don’t have sound in the locomotives or tenders.