Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Weekend of Miniatures

Throwing caution to the wind, my wife and I decided to take a short road trip this past Saturday! We hopped in the car and ventured northwest along Interstate 78 until we reached the small village of Shartlesville Pennsylvania. 

Now you may be asking, "What could possibly be of interest in Shartlesville, PA that would warrant a spur of the moment road trip?" I can answer that with a simple image.

Roadside America is a wonderful attraction that boasts "The Worlds Greatest Indoor Miniature Village," and having nothing to compare it against; I'm inclined to agree! It is 8000 square feet of small town America (circa mid century) in miniature scale. The models are extraordinarily detailed, the push-button animations are a blast and the constant whir of HO scale trains is a delight to behold. 

The photo isn't great, but click it to get an idea of how huge this place is!

Better than the display itself - it's the atmosphere of Roadside America that really shines. Once inside I had the strange feeling of being pulled into a different time. As far as I can tell, nothing has been modernized since the late 60's or early 70's. While most modern attractions focus on getting the next big thing, the owners of Roadside America seem more interested in preserving the integrity of Laurence Gieringer's original creation - a lovingly handcrafted miniature world.

Reminds me of "Leave it to Beaver" 

While the miniatures and dioramas I paint and create usually fall into the fantasy genre, it doesn't prevent me from appreciating the time and effort that has been put into this monumental display. Constructed from actual wood and cast metal parts, the miniature village was built in an age before plastic pieces, foam-core boards and dremel tools. A brief look at his photos and the in-progress models that Mr. Gieringer left behind remain as a testament to his skill as a miniature maker and an artist.

 Dungeon or miniature model of Virginia's Luray Caverns? You decide!

If you ever venture into Pennsylvania, I highly suggest making a stop at Roadside America. I enjoyed it so much, I'd even go with you!

Until next time, happy gaming! 

Ps. Here's a few more images for you to check out. I apologize if they are a little fuzzy, I'm still trying to figure our camera out. If you like what you see, make the trip!


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