Lionel Corp. stopped making trains in 1969 after filing for bankruptcy. However, they were succeeded by Lionel LLC, whom still continues their legacy today.
I (we with my two boys) have started our adventure as of 6 months ago and they both count the days of the week waiting for the weekend to go and do “our” thing. Thanks to this site http://tinyurl.com/ModelTrainsBeginnersR , staff, site and books, I was able to quickly get up to speed on the latest technologies and techniques without spending days if not weeks on the web to look for it (and most likely not finding all that you have provided).
I was pleasantly surprised to find that this hobby is still so active since I have not touched my boxes of trains since packing up the layout my father did with me in 1975. I can only imagine the hours needed to keep up with all of what you are doing and I salute you in your mission.
My two boys are saved from the video game frenzy for now but its up to the parents and grandparents of this generation to help the next generation. This site help us do what we can do better and we all have fun and at the same time educate our children…
Wikipedia (with the usual caveats) has a detailed description of the company's history. In particular check out:
You should have a look to this site http://www.goobypls.com/r/rd.asp?gid=416 for a complete guide with tips and tricks to get started with your model railroad