AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The last ornament is on the Christmas tree, the garland is hung and the lights are glowing. For some of you, beneath your tree, a small model train might just be circling around its track.

Trains have been associated with Christmas for generations. Even movies like “The Polar Express” has kept the tradition in kids’ minds.

The Youngstown Model Railroad Association offered some insights as to what makes the tradition so popular.

“A guy named Joshua Lionel Cowen invented a thing to advertise products in the front window of stores — and it was an electrified train,” said Bruce Silvernail, member of the model railroad association.

Cowen’s product helped make model trains more affordable for kids. They were one of the first electric, moving toys kids could experience.

“They were really expensive to buy, and the only time you could justify that much expense was at Christmas,” Silvernail said.

After World War I, Cowen started advertising the trains at stores, allowing parents to make payments on them year-round.

But the association of trains during the holiday season goes back much further.

“Even in the 1950s, there were no interstate highways, and jet planes didn’t come around until ’57, ’59 — so traveling anywhere for the holidays was by train,” Silvernail said.

Of course, because model trains were so expensive, they were often packed away after the Christmas season.

“When the tree went up the train went up and it was just a sort of relationship that just came to grow,” Silvernail said.

Though the tradition fell out of favor for a while, it came back in the early 1980s and has remained popular. Silvernail still runs one for his daughters every year.

“We have a tradition — when she comes home, she sets up the village so she can decide what’s going to be a farm or a city or a turnpike to represent her trip home from Maryland,” Silvernail said.