A Unique Cheese Country Attraction – The Toy Train Barn Museum & Railway
One leg of our Cheese Country Scenic Drive passes through Argyle, Wisconsin. In 2016 on our way through Argyle to visit Monroe we noticed the sign and the uniquely painted barn of the Toy Train Museum along Wisconsin highway 81 about 2 miles east of Argyle. We didn’t stop but later looked up the attraction on the Internet (Toy Train Barn website) and made a note to find an occasion to visit them soon.
That occasion came when we were looking for fun things to do with two of our grand nieces who were visiting with us in June of 2017. So we loaded Keena and Dee Dee in the Rialta and took off for a day trip to Argyle to visit the Toy Barn.
Inside the barn is the most extensive model railroad collections I’ve ever seen. As a kid I enjoyed the huge Christmas time train layout at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. While the Science and Industry layout may have more feet of track, it doesn’t have near the amount of detail in the surrounding villages as the Toy Barn layout and I think there are a larger number of operating trains in the Toy Barn layout; every where you look you’ll see a train operating, running across trestles, through mountains, tunnels, cities, and villages. And in the various villages you’ll find action, things moving, and animated action figures working and playing. In some respects the running trains are a backdrop to the unique village creations as there is so much detail and activity depicted a person could spend hours inspecting and discovering the goings-on within the villages. Push buttons allow visitors to control the movement of some of the trains and activate other action features of the displays.
Our railroad conductor-host Jan Guthrie operated the trains, provided an entertaining history of the development of the train and village layouts, and helped guide the kids in exploring all the fun things to do. The creator of the Toy Train layout and interactive villages is Jan’s husband Buck Guthrie. Prior to his retirement Buck was a real-life engineer for the Southern Wisconsin & Calumet Railroad.
Although retired, Buck has found a way to continue being an engineer. On the farm surrounding the Toy Barn is a narrow gauge railway Buck has constructed and named the Argyle & Eastern Railway. He also built a locomotive, the Zepher, and several passenger cars to operate on the railway that runs among the 18 acres of the farm. The railway crosses creeks, runs over trestles, and passes intersections. A fun ride for all ages, for kids and for older people who enjoy being a kid again every once in a while.
See our Video of the model trains in the Train Barn and taking a ride on the Argyle & Eastern Railroad.