Carlisle & Finch

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A No. 42 Trolley and Trailer in the permanent collection of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Made between 1904-1909.

Carlisle & Finch is a producer of nautical equipment and searchlights, and the inventor of the electric toy train. It is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Warning plate attached to marine beacon found on display at the Beavertail Lighthouse museum.
Name plate attached to marine beacon found on display at the Beavertail Lighthouse museum.

Founded in 1894 by Robert Finch and Morton Carlisle, the company had two products, an electric toy train and a carbon arc searchlight. It was particularly known for the DCB-224 aero beacon, which is no longer produced.[1] The trains, which entered the marketplace in 1897, stood about 5.5 inches tall, were made of metal, colorful, and highly detailed, and ran on metal track with rails two inches apart. They were the first complete electric-powered trains to be introduced to the marketplace.[citation needed]

Three other smaller, short-lived U.S. toy train manufacturers, including Voltamp, adopted Carlisle & Finch's 2-inch track. Carlisle & Finch's offerings were by definition non-standard, its status as the inventor of the electric train notwithstanding.[citation needed]

At the beginning of World War I, the United States government ordered Carlisle and Finch to cease toy train production in order to concentrate on producing searchlights for the United States Navy and United States Coast Guard. At the end of the war, the company did not resume toy train production, choosing instead to concentrate on its profitable searchlight business. Within a decade, it was the largest producer of military searchlights in the country.[citation needed]

Finch bought out Carlisle's share of the company in 1917. Over the ensuing decades, it began producing equipment for civilian use, with its searchlights being used in lighthouses and on offshore oil rigs.[citation needed]

Typically, in lighthouses the Aerobeacon was used to replace a Fresnel lens.[2]


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