Roadside America


Shartlesville, Pennsylvania

Aaaah, it's great seeing the survival of the classic roadside attraction - part obsessive compulsive project of a brilliant craftsman, part roadside hucksterism, Roadside America has it all. You are greeted by a very scary Amish couple (fiberglass, not flesh...) brandishing pitchforks and glazedly groping towards the unwary unruly child... The building promises gifts and authenticity, and after you give your money to the man in the box you're granted access to the overwealming world of Roadside America.

You get a little pamphlet, explaining the 66 numbered sites illustrating the development of culture through the aminated mineature vignettes. Mr. Laurence T. Gieringer built this wonderland up until his deathe in 1963, with his wife carring on the project until her death in 1973. The family still own and operates the legacy, keeping prices low so schoolchildren can afford a postcard or two to commemorate their visits.

There are reminders posted: Don't leave the display until you witness the Night Pageant! When enough people are inside, slack-jawed with wonder, the lights dim. The lady behind the microphone asks you to move to the elevated platforms at the sides of the display. And then, the music starts. Projections project, spotlights spot, trains and cars and planes and animals animate in a series that tell the story of the development of the country, scene by scene. You can't help but admire the sheer scope of the project to begin with, but when the little electric stars come out everyone turns into a kid.

From the intro pamphlet - An Enchanted Miniature Land of Yesterday and Today - Roadside America, Greatest Indoor Miniature Billage in the Heart of the Beautiful Pennsylvania Dutch Country

Posted here is the official Story of Roadside America (inc)


Roadside America Stats

Also, from the brochure: Materials and Equipment used to Construct and Operate Roadside America
17,700 board feet of lumber
4000 pounds sheet iron
3 barrels screened sawdust
450 feet pipe
75 gallons paoin
75 pounds dry color
6000 feet building paper
2250 feet railroad and trolley tracks for four trolleys and six trains
225 bushels natural moss
5 electric pumps handling 6000 gallons of water per hour
4000 miniature figures
22 magnetic speakers
200 units railroad cars and engines
1825 watt transformers
xxx control switches
4000 feet expanded metal under plaster work
216 yards canvas used for waterproofing
600 pounds rubber roofing for waterways
44,000 pounds of stone
900 pounds nails
18,000 pounds of plaster
25 bags of cement
8000 pounds of sand
21,000 feet electric wiring
300 miniature buildings
650 small light bulbs
10,000 miniature hand-made trees
3 barrels of tar
8 motors to move equipment
12 record players and amplifiers


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