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.
Though it’s a miniature, this larger than life Quaker couple celebrating their 50th anniversary greeted us in the parking lot.
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.
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.
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!
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.
At the coal mine, trucks, trains and conveyors are busy loading anthracite for transport.
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.
Have you entered our latest free drawing yet? This week’s prize is an audiobook of Longnecks & Twisted Hearts, the third book in my friend George Weir’s excellent Bill Travis mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on the Free Drawings link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.
Thought For The Day – The best sermons are lived, not preached.