Photo Credit: http://stefgarage.free.fr
If you grew up in Minnesota between 1950 and 1990 there is a strong chance you played with at least one Tonka Truck. Tonka built trucks that left a lasting impression on many kids both literally and figuratively.
From its start in 1947 Tonka built two toys, a metal crane and steam shovel. These two toys dug the foundation for many successful decades of production. The factory, located in Mound, spanned nearly one third of a mile and at its peak built over 13 million trucks a year. To put this number in perspective, just north of three million automobiles are expected to be built domestically this year. Needless to say, the Tonka Toys building in Mound was a west metro landmark.
Undoubtedly, the most successful Tonka Truck was the Mighty Dump. Constructed entirely of metal the Mighty Dump was virtually indestructible, and I can attest having beat on mine regularly in my sandbox as a kid. The Mighty line of Tonka Trucks saw heavy duty in the hands of children worldwide through the 1980s.
Faced with high labor costs and tax rates, Tonka moved production to Texas in 1982. In 1991 Hasbro purchased the company prompting the closing of the Minnesota office. Despite a limited Minnesota presence in decades things will soon change.
As a tribute to the millions of Tonka Trucks created locally, the Mound Westonka Historical Society will be opening the Tonka Toy Museum on June 15. The museum, located on the second floor of Mound City Hall, will showcase the many toys amassed over the years as well as donated private collections. If you’re looking to stroll down memory lane this summer be sure to check out the museum.