Roadside America

 Posted by at 12:50 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 152014

We’ve seen a lot of roadside attractions from coast to coast in our time on the road, some that were really good and some that made us yawn and say, “Uh huh, can we go now?” But yesterday we saw what Terry and I both agree is the best one ever.

Roadside America, located just off Interstate 78 in Shartlesville, Pennsylvania, is an amazing miniature world that takes visitors on a trip back through time to small town America, spanning over 200 years in a way that you have to see to believe.

Roadside America outside

Though it’s a miniature, this larger than life Quaker couple celebrating their 50th anniversary greeted us in the parking lot.

Quaker Couple

This isn’t your typical model train layout! Created by Laurence T. Gieringer, who became interested in miniatures back in 1899 when he was five years old, the 8,000 square foot fully landscaped display is the work of over 60 years.

Railroad bridge


Country scene

It has more than 300 miniature structures, 10,000 hand-made trees, 4,000 miniature people, and 18 trains, trollies and cable cars running throughout the display. Not to mention rivers, streams and waterways with live fish and recirculating water, an animated circus parade, and dozens of other moving pieces and parts.

Country church

Grist mill

It’s amazing to realize just what it took to build Roadside America; 600 miniature light bulbs, 21,500 feet of electrical wiring, 17,700 board feet of lumber, 2,250 feet of railroad track, 18,000 pounds of plaster, 4,000 pounds of sheet iron, 900 pounds of nails and several more truckloads of materials!

Town view

town View 2

The attention to detail is unbelievable. The Cathedral has 44 hand-painted windows and it took over 400 hours to create this building alone.


You can’t tour Roadside America quickly, there is just too much to take in. Pause here to see workers smoothing out concrete in a new sidewalk, and at Long’s Esso station, where they actually pump your gas for you and wash your windshield.

Cul de sac

Esso station

At the coal mine, trucks, trains and conveyors are busy loading anthracite for transport.

Coal Mine 

Every half hour the overhead lights begin to dim, lights come on in shops and houses, and then full nightfall sets in as patriotic music plays a tribute to America. And then the sky begins to glow and a new day breaks over Roadside America and it all starts over again.

We’ll have a feature story on Roadside America in an upcoming issue, but in the meantime, if you pass through eastern Pennsylvania on your route south for the winter, make it a point to stop for a visit. There is plenty of room for RVs to park, it’s handicapped accessible, and I guarantee it’s a stop you won’t soon forget.

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Longnecks cover

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  12 Responses to “Roadside America”

  1. Years ago I remember passing that and for some reason it was closed. I’m adding it to the bucket list.

  2. That was one of my fathers fav places. He would even factor in a visit if he was hauling a load on his semi. He would tell you that in all his visits he never saw every detail because there was always something tiny that would catch his attention. Thanks for giving me a fond memory this morning

  3. Oh I love minatures….what a find!!!

  4. Visited there last year. I agree, one of the best ever.

  5. Thank for sharing something like that Looks like a real cool place
    now the real Question is how,s someone keep something like that clean and dust free
    All one can think of, is the movie Toy story,, and is at the stroke of midnight,,
    Joy your day

  6. I grew up in Delaware County, PA in a little place called Darlington. I remember visiting this place with my parents. My dad was a model train buff and we had several layouts in our basement. It IS a magical place!!

  7. We stumbled on this place back in 2003 and loved it! My husband still remembers it! Very cool place!

  8. Been there a few times. And then would eat dinner at the Sharletsville Hotel. Family style – Amish cooking.

  9. I tried to find the town on the map, but cannot . What large town is it near. Thanks

  10. Carol
    It’s at Exit 23 on Interstate 78 in Shartlesville, Pennsylvania,

  11. This place sounds so fun…what a great place to take kids too!! Thanks for sharing about this!!

  12. If your ever in Hot Spring, Arkansas check out Tiny Town. It is similar and has been there for years. I went as a small child and I’m 54 now.

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