Monday, December 10th, 2007
Cool Wooden Toy Trains Made in America
American-made train toys exist. They cost a little more, but are 10 degrees cooler than anything being made overseas. The trains are, of course, compatible with their corporate competitors. Take a look.
Whittle Shortline Railroad is based in Louisiana, Missouri and creates trains from reforested birch hardwood. Like every good family-owned business, this one started when a wife gave her husband a compound mitre saw.
When the business outgrew the family home, it moved into and renovated the Frisco Hotel in Valley Park, Missouri, the former hangout of the Frisco Railroad. A company store still resides there, as well as a birthday room where kids have at a “mammoth train table.” Their production facility is now in Louisiana, Missouri, a move they dubbed “the Louisiana Purchase.”
Meanwhile, Maple Landmark Woodcraft is based in Middlebury, Vermont. It traces its origins to a kid and his woodworking hobby in his parent’s basement in the 1970s. Today that kid employs about 30 people, as evidenced by the class photo. The company name is drawn from the grandfather’s sugaring business and dairy farm.
Fortunately, they are backlogged and can’t fill any new orders before Christmas 2007.
Maple Landmark produces a range of wooden toys made primarily from local rock maple, and some pine and cherry. The company’s really neat railway product is below.
Maple Landmark’s flagship train toy is the NameTrains Wooden Railway System. Each train car is shaped in a different letter of the alphabet in bright primary colors (natural wood and pastel colors are also available). An engine and caboose are included with each name. A 3-letter name runs you $24 while a 10-letter name runs $57.60. The entire alphabet is 122.80. Wow!
But what’s really cool is the NameTrain Wall Mount System that allows you to display your child’s NameTrain as a wall decoration. Buy one for your infant and display it until your child is old enough to play with the train.