About the Exhibit
Roadside America is a 6,000 square foot miniature world created by one man through the duration of his life. While the display does feature over 2,250 feet of model railroad track, to call it a model train display on steroids is an understatement.
The miniature village at Roadside America depicts over 200 years of American history spanning from the early settlements all the way to the late 1950's and early 1960's. Push buttons line the self-guided tour allowing visitors to bring various animations to life throughout the exhibit.
Unlike many similar displays, Roadside America uniquely utilizes real flowing water to add life and movement to its already realistic landscape - pumping over 6,000 gallons per hour. Enjoy the sights of functioning miniature fountains and a pond full of real living goldfish, or make a romantic memory under our impressive canyon waterfall.
Roadside America's main attractions, however, are the gorgeously handcrafted buildings - all constructed by one man from scrap household materials. The attention to detail in each structure is enough to leave even the biggest skeptic in awe. The display features over 300 buildings, ranging in architectural style and dating back as far as 1903 when the builder was just 9 years old.
Of course, the exhibit wouldn't be complete without bustling model railroads cutting through the miniature countryside. The massive display features 8 total railroads - 2 of which can be controlled by visitors with just the press of a button. The display also features 4 trolley tracks - 3 of which are controlled by push buttons.
Approximately every 30 minutes, night time descends on Roadside America. Houses go dark, street lamps brighten the darkened scenery, and stars illuminate the night sky. Roadside America's standard "night pageant" has remained largely the same since its inception in the 1950's, featuring patriotic and religious slide projections as well as Kate Smith's popular iteration of God Bless America.
In 2017, Roadside America began decorating the miniature village for various holidays - the biggest events being for Halloween and Christmas which each have specially tailored night pageants that run through their respective months. Pumpkin patches, corn stalks, trick-r-treaters, and spooky classic horror movie monsters fill the miniature village through the month of October. Come December, the spookiness of Halloween is replaced by the twinkling lights, snowmen, tree farms, and classic holiday movie characters of Christmas. For a full list of special events at Roadside America, click here.
Roadside America is in no way a depiction of modern America. Being primarily a preservation project since the exhibit's completion in 1963, Roadside America is an ode to the American dream - a depiction of what one man can create through a lifetime of dedication, passion, and hard work. Walking through the doors at Roadside America is like stepping back in time. Plan your visit today and experience this incredible interactive panorama of American history.
Are you permanently closed?
NO! Roadside America is open 5 days a week, every week. We are closed only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and major holidays (New Years Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas day).
When did Roadside America first open?
Roadside America has been open in its current location in Shartlesville, PA since 1953. However, smaller iterations of the village were displayed in various other locations dating back to 1935.
What are the dimensions of the village?
The main table is about 104 feet by 54 feet. Adding the mountain and two corner displays, the entire exhibit amounts to approximately 6,000 square feet.
How do you maintain the display?
The entire display was built to be walked on. To repair anything cosmetic, we can enter the display from the perimeter and walk out to the center. Electrical work can be accessed by crawling beneath the display. Additionally, the south hillside of the display includes trap doors to allow easier access to various train tunnels.
Are things still being added to the village?
While the village does get decorated for certain holidays, no new buildings or structures are being added. Roadside America was almost entirely created by one man, Laurence Gieringer. In 1963, Gieringer passed away and Roadside America was considered complete - although Gieringer was still building at the time of his passing.
What is the oldest building in the village?
The oldest miniature structure at Roadside America is a barn near the center of the display. It dates back to 1903 when the builder, Laurence Gieringer, was just 9 years old.
What kinds of model trains do you run?
All of the trains running at Roadside America are O gauge - O27 to scale O. We run all varieties of model trains including Lionel, MTH, Williams, and occasional classics dating from 1934.
Do your trains operate like a real railroad?
All of our railroad lines are simple, yet very large loops. The model trains at Roadside America have always been intended to simply add life and movement to the display. They are not intended as the focal point of the exhibit. However, plans for upgrading the railroads to operate more realistically are always being considered.