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.”

Photo of a wooden Little Engine that Could train toy and four accompanying train cars.

The Little Blue Engine (that Could), also available as a 5-piece set.

Photo of a Amtrak F-40PH Passenger Diesel Engine and a Casey Jones Black Steam Engine wooden toy train.

Amtrak F-40PH Passenger Diesel Engine or a Casey Jones Black Steam Engine.

The company makes a range of specialty train sets, from Chicago’s Metra to the Canadian National Train.

Photo of a United States Postal Service and FedEx wooden train toy.

This FedEx truck and Mr. Zip USPS delivery truck will suffice if generic postal trucks won’t. The company also makes a school bus and several big rigs.

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!

Photo of the NameTrain Wall Mount System featuring two wooden mounting brackets, train track with a stopping block at each end and a photo of a NameTrain mounted on a wall spelling out the name Cooper.

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.


5 Responses to “Cool Wooden Toy Trains Made in America”

  1. Mark says:

    I think you mean that “UNfortunately they are backlogged till after Christmas. ;) I’m sure you’re thrilled about the note from your friendly neighborhood spelling nerd!

    That said…GREAT products. I am planning on getting some trains for my son and these will definitely be on my radar for him now

    December 10th, 2007 at 10:34 am

  2. AJ says:

    Nah, I meant fortunately. I’m thinking from the perspective of an American toy manufacturer who is competing on a very uneven playing field. If the company is backlogged and can’t make enough toys to fill demand, well, that’s a lot better than having a warehouse filled with unsold toys.

    December 10th, 2007 at 12:19 pm

  3. STL Mom says:

    I take my son to the Whittle Shortline Railroad store in Valley Park about once a month. They have one huge train table and about four normal sized tables, and hundreds of train cars and engines. You can stay and play for hours and no one will ask you to buy anything. Of course we have actually bought quite a few things there! The products are great quality and the people are very nice.
    My son (age 4) insists that they are actually called the Little Shortline Railroad, and if you try to correct him he just points out that the trains are very little.

    December 10th, 2007 at 7:54 pm

  4. Jan Bay says:

    I wish that I could pick up some of their train cars to replace the Thomas the Train stuff that was on my nephew’s list! I plan to keep my eye on this great company for next Christmas and birthdays! How wonderful of you to bring this unique company to our attention. It would be so good to be able to buy all of our toys in the USA!

    Jan from

    December 10th, 2007 at 9:58 pm

  5. Jen Grinnell says:

    Hey, if anyone is interested, I have this very set from Whittle Shortline available for sale:

    And…it’s on sale :)

    Shamless plug, I know.

    Jennifer Grinnell
    Toys & Games for Creative Play

    December 11th, 2007 at 7:09 pm