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The American Locomotive Company, often shortened to ALCO, was formed in 1901 through the merger of the Schenectady Locomotive Engine company along with seven smaller locomotive manufacturers of that era. The ALCO conglomerate designed, built and sold three major types of locomotives during the 20th century: steam, diesel and diesel-electric. Interestingly, ALCO became defunct in 1969 -- the same year the original Lionel company halted production of their own trains.

During the postwar years, Lionel focused on producing one version of ALCO's product line; the diesel locomotive. Lionel's early production years (1950 - 1954) produced a high quality locomotive which was only offered in an AA combination. Later manufacturing (1957 - 1969) included a lower quality and less detailed locomotive, but was available in three different offerings: single A, AA or AB combination.