Biggest Ball of String

Our road trip adventures, quirky roadside attractions, generally in the United States or Canada (and with occasional travel off the mainland into Hawaii, Alaska, Caribbean and Europe – so far)

The Toy Train Barn, Argyle Wisconsin

on October 31, 2012

THE Toy Train Barn

I mentioned The Toy Train Barn in my introduction (September 9, 2012).  I’ve been waiting to write about it ever since I started the blog.  It was the first thing I researched after I started planning the actual Big Ball of String Tour.  I found it on roadsideamerica.com.

Now that it’s time to write about it, I’m a little at a loss at what exactly to say.

I mean – the place pretty much speaks for itself.  Well, not exactly – you HAVE to meet Buck and Jan, the owners, and their very pleasant and friendly dog – because THEY have stories!

But, we didn’t know that when we decided to go there. We just went because – IT’S A TOY TRAIN BARN!! Who wouldn’t want to go!?   I convinced everyone else to go by using the “we are on a roadside-attraction-biggest-ball-of-string” trip, and we have no time schedule, but really – we were travelling with 2 little boys and 4 children-at-heart who all wanted to see the “choo choo trains”.

That being said…we got lost on the way. We took the wrong road (thank you, Jennifer, the GPS voice, who decided that the shortest distance in miles was the shortest distance in time.) To be fair, she couldn’t possibly have known that THAT particular road had a speed limit of 20 mph, and hay wagons occupied the road.  (NOT just hay-moving vehicles, but also horse drawn wagons!)

We had 2 hours to get there, and after the back road (worth it if you have time) route, finally made it to the turn off.  At that point, we re-evaluated. We have 15 minutes to get to the Toy Train Barn before it closed and 10 miles (according to Jennifer and Google maps) of Another scenedriving – and NOT on a Freeway.

In a tearful-arms crossed-foot stamping-pouting “discussion” (me vs. the other adults), I said, “We have to have to have to have to go! We’ve come this far! We HAVE TO GO! This is the entire reason we came this way!” we decided to make a run for it.

We took that turn off, and I was so anxious to make it to the Toy Train Barn before it closed, I completely was unprepared to take a picture of little Swiss Miss that we passed, out in the field, in her big “Little House on the  Prairie” blue dress, and wearing her milk maid bonnet!  And, not in costume! just out in the field!!  (She goes on my “pictures I’ve missed but committed indelibly to my memory” list.)

We pulled in to the Toy Train Barn driveway, and it was quiet.  I could see the two husbands make eye contact, which involved eye-rolling.  I resisted reacting, and went to the Barn door.  It was dark.  It was closed. I knocked anyway.

THEN! the door opened and out came Buck! the owner, and my hero of the day! I quickly spewed out my story about getting lost, the bumpy roads, the hay wagon. He said, “Well! we can’t have you coming this far and not let you in! Come in! everyone come in!”

YAY! The second Jack (the youngest of us – I think he was 3) came in, he was shrieking – so excited! and he wasn’t alone! you should see all there is to see!

There are so many little worlds of trains, and all different scales, too!  Buck has it set up to run the whole thing with a touch of a button.  (The face of what used to be Jan’s microwave – that’s what happens when she goes to town and doesn’t leave her stuff under lock and key).Train scene

I forget everything they’ve done, but what I do remember is that Jan’s chicken rotisserie mechanism is now flying the airplane in circles around one of the train scenes, and the springs from her toaster are now bouncing little figurines of children on pogo-sticks.  She also mentioned that she only buys towels that have bright colors and stripes because her green towels became “grass” and the blue is covering … something.. I want to say “mountain tops”.

Buck’s a genius. Every single thing works.  Even the little house on “fire” has a little fire engine spraying water into it, while the train circles around.

Jan is brilliant too – she is responsible for the little tiny figures – the people, the boxes of fruit, etc., that she has sculpted to scale. I told her she was a genius, too, and she said that she’s “supportive”.

Buck & JanYou’ll LOVE The Toy Train Barn, but you’ll love it even more when you get to visit with Buck and Jan.

We arrived late, and we stayed late.  We overstayed our welcome, but Buck and Jan never let on.  The nicest people ever.

Don’t miss this! You must go!  It was a real highlight, for sure.

(Sunday, we’ll be enroute to Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park.)

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4 responses to “The Toy Train Barn, Argyle Wisconsin

  1. Shannan says:

    Reading your blog had me reliving that entire day. You have a gift!

  2. Becky Clark says:

    What a great blog post! I wonder if you remember the names of the back roads that you traveled on your way there… My mom lives a mile or two down the road from the Toy Train Barn. I had driven past quite a few times before we (my mom & I) decided to take my 18-month-old and my 4.5-year-old boys to visit early this spring. I’ve been trying to encourage others to visit ever since, but you’re much better with words than I am! I talked Jan into letting me help the barn on Facebook, so if you follow https://www.facebook.com/toytrainbarn, some of the status updates are written by me!

    • 4mygypsysoul says:

      Oh, I have read some of your updates! That’s great! Thank you for adding the link to my blog, too! I really appreciate it!

      I re-Googled our route, and it seems that our route went something like:
      -East from Dubuque IA on Hwy 11,
      -Straight through Hazel Green (which seems like a pleasant little town, but we were too rushed to stop there),
      -Onto County Hwy W (which I think could’ve been error #2 – Error #1, being not staying on Hwy 11)
      -North on County Road O
      -East again on Hwy 11 (Seriously – this is how GPS told us to go… Also, sometime between Hazel Green and our re-entry on Hwy 11, we lost GPS signal and no cell service…to increase the adventure!)
      -North on County Hwy M (I think this is the road on which we saw the Swiss Miss lady)
      -West on Hwy 81

      (It was such a success, that later on during this trip, if anyone resisted going someplace I had planned, I’d say “Remember the Toy Train Barn!!” and we’d go without any further complaining!!!)

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