Tobe Wilson Train Room

The Tobe Wilson Train Room in the Carroll County Heritage Museum pays homage to the many children who arrived in our area on ‘Orphan Trains’ as well as displaying the private toy train collection of one of those children who became a successful businessman and politician in Green Forest, Arkansas.

Tobe Wilson’s life story

The Carroll County Heritage Museum proudly features a special room dedicated to miniature railroads, generously donated by Mrs. Toby Wilson of Green Forest. Toby Wilson, born Obed Burr in 1906 in Geneva, New York, moved to Green Forest in 1917 and was adopted by Alfred Burr and Anna Josephine. He passed away at the age of 79 on June 16, 1985.

This impressive collection includes 250 feet of track, several buildings, boxcars, and coaches. Toby Wilson once served as the mayor of Green Forest and was also a hardware dealer and poultry businessman. The special room, aptly named the Toby Wilson Train Room, celebrates the railroads of the Ozarks.

The first railroad to reach Carroll County was the Eureka Springs Railroad, constructed from Seligman, Missouri to Eureka Springs by Powell Clayton in 1883. In 1901, it extended through Carroll County to Harrison and Boone County under the name St. Louis and North Arkansas Railroad. Eventually, it became known as the Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad before ending operations as the ANO Railroad in 1960.

Wilson’s fascination with Arkansas railroads stemmed from his family’s long history with North Arkansas’s first railroad. His collection began when a friend gifted him a miniature railroad kit in adulthood since he never had toys as a child. Over time, others contributed to this growing collection.

The display room at the Carroll County Heritage Museum is dedicated to preserving the history of the era when approximately 150,000 homeless children were relocated to the heartland on orphan trains between 1854 and 1929. Toby himself was one such orphan who found a new life in Carroll County.

If you’re a railroad enthusiast or simply interested in early railroading in the Ozarks, make sure to visit the Heritage Museum on the Public Square in Bearable, Arkansas.

What you’ll find here:

Photo of Tobe Wilson