Toy train museum coming to Heber
Heber Springs has an exciting new attraction coming. Ruland Junction is in the works to be one of the premier toy train museums in the country. Owned and operated by Wayne and Susan Ruland of Heber Springs, the museum will offer visitors a rare treat to see toy trains and train related memorabilia from a collection that has been collected and built for over half a century, taking up two floors and countless shelves.
The bottom floor includes a small library, a train themed restroom, and a children’s section. The highlight of the downstairs area, however, is a massive and detailed setting that includes a rail line surrounding miniature town complete with hundreds of miniature people and buildings that sweep the observer back in time to a period when trains were a defining part of our culture. Hours can be spent just admiring the details of these engaging scenes, and it truly comes alive as when Ruland turns on the power and the train begins to run through this miniature world.
The upstairs floor is filled with hundreds of train memorabilia items with a track running around the length of the room, complete with it’s own miniature worlds to admire as the train makes it’s rounds. The stairwell in the center of the room provides a breathtaking aerial view of the bottom floor arrangement.
Ruland began collecting and building toy trains as a child with his father in New Jersey during the 1950s. He and his brother would go to the train yards and listen to the older men talk about the “good old days” of trains. What began in a damp, moldy basement of their home has grown into a collection to be envied by the avid train collector and other toy museums. While many items were bought or donated, Ruland, his father, and his brother built a large number of the trains. Susan created many of the scenic additions to the train settings. Combined, they have managed to create a magical experience that will not only entertain Cleburne County residents, but also promises to become a major tourist destination for visitors to Heber Springs.
The museum is not yet open, but the Rulands hope to have the finishing touches placed and all logistical details ready to dazzle the public in the near future. This has been a private venture and passion for the Rulands, but anyone interested in making donations to assist with the opening of the museum can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.