At Roadside America, perhaps best described as a cross between outsider art and a model railroad convention, visitors are treated to mid-20th century model neighborhoods and railroads where a simulated Sun sets every half-hour or so with a stirring rendition of “God Bless America.”
The entire tiny world is the lifetime work of Laurence Geiringer who first developed his love for miniatures in 1899. As the story goes, when he was five, Geiringer could see the lights of a distant hotel from his bedroom window. The hotel looked like a toy that he could grab and add to his toy collection. His passion stoked, Geiringer spent the next 60 years collecting and building one miniature model after another until his ever-growing village became a veritable city and eventually took on a life of its own.
In the early 1940s, with interest in his project attracting local attention, Geiringer moved the collection out of his home and into a warehouse-sized building nearby. As the model collection continued to grow, the attraction was moved again in 1953 to its current location alongside Interstate 78 in Shartlesville, Pennsylvania, promising a kitschy dose of mid-century Americana to generations of passing travelers.
The current exhibition, maintained just as Geiringer left it when he died in 1963, now covers 7,450 square feet of real estate, all fully landscaped in miniature. The display includes 18 trains and trolleys, utilizes 21,500 feet of wiring, and portrays 4,000 tiny little people going about their business in the little town that Laurence Geiringer built.
Know Before You Go
Roadside America is located off Exit 23 of Interstate 78. Follow the signs along Mountain Road, turn right onto Old U.S. 22, and then right again onto Roadside Drive.