Did you ever wish they had not torn down your favorite school buildings from childhood? What if those special memories could be enhanced with visions of the toys under your tree on Christmas morning? In an unparalleled era of school construction that has seen more demolition than the preservation of the older structures, one neighborhood school in Wheeling, West Virginia has survived the trend and stands today as a memorial to some of the fondest memories of childhood. The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum was built in 1905, and until 1991 served first as the Elm Grove Grade School and later as Kruger Street Elementary School. Today, the tin ceilings, Georgia yellow pine floors, and red pine woodwork provide a nostalgic backdrop for an impressive collection of tens of thousands of toys and trains.
The displays fill 10 rooms in two stories of this vintage Victorian building. The Doll Room is home to not only Barbie and many of her predecessors, but many styles of dollhouses. Rubber dolls and rag dolls are featured with other fashion dolls and modern character dolls inspired by Disney, movies, and television that have delighted generations of young girls.
The Miniatures Room showcases thousands of plastic, metal, and hand-painted birds, animals, soldiers, cowboys, Indians, superheroes, cartoon and movie characters and more. From complete sets like Fort Apache to Star Wars and Star Trek figurines, you are sure to recognize characters that were once under your tree on Christmas morning.
Virtually every kind of vehicle imaginable can be found in the Transportation Room. Hot Wheels, Match Box, and Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends are among the dozens of popular cars and trucks. Jeeps, tanks, and military transports are featured with fire trucks, police cars, and other emergency units. Boats, planes, and spacecraft round out this impressive collection.
If you have a favorite childhood game, you’ll likely find it in the Game Room. Everything from classic board games to hand-held electronics to video game systems can be found here. Pre-school classics like Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders share the space with the standards, chess, checkers, and dominoes. The variety of types and styles of games ranges from pinball to shooting galleries to puzzles. Clue, Monopoly, Careers, Battleship, and so many more are among the multi-player and individual games that will take you back to those special times with family and friends.
Nothing evokes childhood memories for a boy like his first train set, and the Kruger Street Museum does not disappoint. The Train Room not only showcases “O” and “HO” gauge layouts but also has real railroad artifacts to enhance the experience. Marx, Lionel, and American Flyer models are all highlighted, with many different styles of cars included in the collection. Several other less popular gauges are also represented. A natural complement to any train set was a racecar set, and museum visitors can take the controls of a vintage slot car as well.
One of the newest additions to the museum is “K-Land”. K’Nex are educational toys that introduce youngsters to simple machines, gears, and other engineering principles. The Kruger Street display of these creative toys incorporates over 250,000 individual pieces and 8,000 LED lights into an amusement park that is filled with rides and attractions. Over 7,000 man-hours were invested in the creation of this amazing exhibit.
No matter your age, you are certain to re-live fond moments from your youth at the Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum.