When the city of Winifred, Montana was planning their new multi-purpose community center, the idea of a museum to complement the already planned library, reception hall, city offices, post office, and emergency services department was proposed. At that time Roger Thompson was aware that his uncle, John Thompson, was seeking a venue for his extensive collection of Tonka Toys. John, a native of Winifred, was pleased to offer 3,000 toys out of his 5,000 piece collection making the Winifred Museum one of the largest collections of Tonka Toys in the world.1
Tonka farm vehicles, delivery trucks, recreational vehicles, emergency vehicles, military vehicles, and even a Barbie vehicle are displayed, while some duplicate vehicles are available for hands-on playing for kids of all ages. The collection ranges from the oldest vintage piece, a 1947 150 Clam Crane, to the more recent classic yellow Tonka toys, including a rare, unopened three piece toy set that is worth $4,000. There are also the lesser known collectables: Tonka clothes, containers, and lunch boxes.
Besides featuring Tonka's “simple, well-made toys,” Winifred Museum also has displays of local prehistoric artifacts, Indian artifacts, and pioneer artifacts from the early days of their town. Opened since 2005, they operate largely from Memorial Day through Labor Day or upon special request.2