Roadside America, Inc.
PO Box 2
Shartlesville, PA 19554
(610) 488-6241

Places Nearby:
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
WK&S Railroad
Christmas Village
Mid-Atlantic Air Museum
Berks County Heritage Center
Crystal Cave
Cut and Thrust Museum
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Other States:

It's like riding a hot air balloon through time itself. Down below is rural America -- charming villages with bustling inhabitants. Trains speed by, a fountain bubbles cheerily in the zoo. Drift a bit farther -- about a hundred years -- to see a grist mill slowly turning or the Locust Summit coal breaker doing its work.

Roadside America has been acclaimed as the nation's largest miniature village. Somehow it is appropriate that it began as a child's dream.

Laurence Gieringer, 5-years old, spent many evenings gazing at the Hiland Hotel atop Neversink Mountain. The glittering white building seemed like something of a fairy tale, something that young Laurence could reach out and hold. One day he set off to find that hotel. Instead, Laurence got lost, spending a frightening night alone in the woods until he was rescued the next morning. The dream of the "toy" hotel remained with him, nevertheless.

At 16, Laurence became a carpenter and painter, and continued his hobby of making model buildings. Over the years his collection grew and word of his miniature village spread through the community.

At Christmas, 1935, Gieringer set up a part of his display for his children. The Reading Eagle newspaper heard about it and published a feature story. The rest is history.

Roadside America today is a sprawling exhibit offering a view of a number of villages depicting time periods from pioneer days through the present. The scale is three-eighths of an inch to the foot, and the detail is simply remarkable. Villages from around America and even some other countries are represented, including, of course, a focus on rural Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Dutch Farm is perfect.

To give an idea of the scope of this exhibit, a small sampling of the materials used to build it include 17,700 board feet of lumber, 4,000 pounds of sheet iron, 2,250 feet of railroad and trolley tracks, 5 electric pumps handling 6,000 gallons of water per hour, and 10,000 miniature hand-made trees. A great deal of additional material and thousands upon thousands of hours went into constructing Roadside America.

Families and groups are welcome for a tour of this wonderful place, and School Groups can benefit greatly. These tiny villages and settings encompass history, art, landscaping, geography, and much more in a very big way. Photographers are welcome.

Groups must have at least 25 people.

Hours: Open July - Labor Day, Weekdays 9am - 6:30pm, Weekends 9 - 7. September - June, Weekdays 10am - 5pm, Weekends 10 - 6. Closed Christmas Day.
Adults $6.75
Children (6-11) $3.75
Children under 6 FREE
Discounts available. Call for current rates.
Group Reservations: 1 week in advance.
Lunch: Picnic on lawn.
Handicapped Access: Accessible.
Directions: I-76 West to Rt. 422 North to Reading to Rt. 222 North to Rt. 61 North to I-78 West. Take exit 8, Shartlesville, and follow signs. 90 - 120 minutes northwest of Philadelphia.

Copyright © 1996-2014 by Patrick Tadeushuk. All Rights Reserved.