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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Minnesota Museums Month: Visit the New Tonka Trucks Museum

Minnesota Museums Month: Visit the New Tonka Trucks Museum

As a child, Christmas time was extra special because it was the one time of the year that I saw my cousin Timmy. Being the only two children of all grown cousins, we were each other’s favorite playmates. Amidst the gray, hazy cavity in my memory, the image of a bright yellow truck stands out. Timmy and I had lots of toys, but his favorite was his Tonka dump truck. At one year’s Christmas gathering, the Tonka dump truck easily crushed my Barbie’s pink convertible in a monster-truck style derby with an audience of G.I. Joes and Cabbage Patch dolls (admission was obviously free).

Little did I know that under the glimmer of the multi-colored Christmas tree lights, the Tonka truck that my cousin pushed around actually had Minnesota roots. In the early ’90s, they were produced under the name Hasbro. However, in 1947, the toy was invented and produced in Mound, Minn. by Mound Metalcraft Company, founded by Lynn Baker, Avery Crounse, and Alvin Tesch. They manufactured garden and closet accessories and other metal items until they were approached by Streater Industries, Inc., another local manufacturer, and asked to make steel toys. So, they manufactured two metal toys that would change the history of children’s play times forever: a crane and a steam shovel. In 1964 they created their most popular toy, the yellow dump truck, or most commonly known as the Mighty Dump.

Due to high taxes and labor costs, in 1991 Tonka was taken over by Hasboro and Tonka’s Minnesota headquarters was closed. However, the toys originally created in Mound are still popular today. In 2001 Tonka trucks were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame, located within the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, N.Y. Tonka trucks joined just 35 other toys in this prestigious group—chosen based on the toys’ achieved longevity and national significance in the world of play and imagination.

Though recognized nationally, a museum will open to commemorate the Tonka truck’s local Minnesota roots. On June 15, the Westonka Historical Society will officially open the Tonka Toy Museum on the top floor of Mound City Hall, in sight of the factory where the toys were first manufactured. Lloyd Laumann, an assembly line worker for the Mound Metalcraft Company in 1955, is the largest contributor to this collection of classic Tonka trucks, from fire trucks to cement mixers. The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Saturday.  

Westonka Historical Society Museum
5341 Maywood Road, Mound, MN 55364
952-472-9800, westonkahistoricalsociety.org

Posted on Thursday, May 23, 2013 in Permalink

Comments may be edited for length, clarity, or appropriateness.

Old to new | New to old
Jun 13, 2013 09:43 am
 Posted by  busymama

Is there a charge to get into the museum?

Jun 18, 2013 12:54 pm
 Posted by  Molly S.

There is no charge for the museum, but there is a suggested donation of $3/person.

Jul 9, 2013 09:10 pm
 Posted by  harlan333

I dug up an old tonka model 810659 it was used as fill with allot of other junk.My house was built in 1961 or1962 so the 59 in the model number should be date built.I dug a french drain and pit in my yard for drainage.At about three feet down I found the toy.So it was buried for at least fifty years.It still has tonka on it and after some clean up has moving parts.It is rusted but in amazing shape for being buried for fifty years. I am proud of the American toys of the past.I live in the Detroit area but my father and his father were born in MN.I have pictures of toy.If the museum is interested I would gladly donate the toy.
Bart Shovein

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