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Josef Lesser, pioneer of realistic 'hi-rail' modeling with Lionel trains, dies at 83

RELATED TOPICS: OBITUARY
Josef Lesser, one of the pioneers of realistic “hi-rail” modeling with new and vintage Lionel trains, has died at the age of 83.

Joe contributed to the growth of the toy train hobby as a modeler and author. His landmark O gauge layout, the JL&ATSF Railroad, was featured prominently in Classic Toy Trains throughout the 1990s. Joe enjoyed sharing his tips on creating a realistic environment for Lionel trains that brilliantly incorporated popular operating accessories, scratchbuilt structures, hand-painted backdrops, and details.

During the past 20 years, Joe shifted his interest to full-size railroading in southern California, where he lived his entire life. Determined to preserve the history of major and lesser lines in Los Angeles and its suburbs, he launched the Los Angeles Railroad Heritage Foundation. Under Joe’s guidance, LARHF has sponsored displays in museums, restored stations, and restaurants, along with publishing books filled with vintage pictures and reproductions of documents.

Joe’s was a lifetime dedicated to explaining the impact of railroads full-size and miniature as well as sharing the joy he experience by building layouts and riding passenger trains. We at CTT are grateful for the many ways Joe supported our magazine while helping it mature.

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