When Sean was little, Brian and a pal who also had a young daughter, took a road trip up to see the work of Laurence Gieringer in Shartlesville, PA. I didn’t hear a lot about it, but in my mind’s eye it was more like a train board setup. Since we were about 30 minutes away from it on our day trip last weekend, we decided to go see it again all these years later. I was told it hasn’t changed in years and years.
Here’s the story right from the webpage:
Laurence Gieringer founded Roadside America. The story goes that young Gieringer’s love of miniature models began around 1899, when he was five years old. From his bedroom window, the young Gieringer could see the lights of the Highland Hotel at the crest of nearby Neversink Mountain. From his distant vantage point the building looked like a toy he could snatch from the mountain and add to his toy collection. One day he set out to get that seemingly miniature building, not realizing how far away it really was. Soon he was hopelessly lost in the woods and was not found until the next morning.
Fortunately that experience did not dampen his love for miniatures. In his adult life Mr. Gieringer became a carpenter and painter. Over his sixty-year career Gieringer amassed quite a collection of tiny, detailed buildings and accessories that became one of the worlds most famous and amazing miniature villages. Mr. Gieringer today is one of the world’s most respected builders of miniature models. (he passed away in January of 1963, over 50 yrs ago!)
In the 1930’s word of Mr. Gieringer’s amazing model railroad and miniature villages spread through the local neighborhoods.
What a sweet inspiration for Laurence to think the faraway hotel was a miniature!
Here are some shots from our visit. Brian, my hubby took them all. Most are a bit overexposed so you can see the detail of the layout.
So you can see the sign is in disrepair. So sad!
It’s such a huge layout! See the teens of the right there?
We got to see the light pageant when the lights were dimmed and all the houses were lit up. Then there was a movie on the wall and Kate Smith sang ‘God Bless America’
It would be a shame to see this place close down. I think it’s worthy of the Smithsonian Institute!