Pennsylvania State Senator David Argall for presenting a letter of congratulations of 80 years to Roadside America.
ROADSIDE AMERICA is an unforgettable panorama of life in rural United States. The exhibit spans more than two hundred years in time and lets you see, in exquisite miniature, how people lived and worked in pioneer days … through the years since then … right up to the present.
In newspapers and magazines, ROADSIDE AMERICA has been acclaimed as the greatest known miniature village—the most unique and detailed masterpiece of its kind in the world. Comprised of not one, but many villages, the display depicts the countryside as it might be seen by a giant so huge that he could see from coast to coast.
How It All Began
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.
In the 1930’s word of Mr. Gieringer’s amazing model railroad and miniature villages spread through the local neighborhoods.
By 1935, the local newspaper learned of this local marvel and did a feature story about the amazing creation in Mr. Gieringer’s home.
Once that word was out, Roadside America was born and the attraction was now drawing so much traffic, Mr. Gieringer had to expand. In 1939 he moved his display to a recently closed amusement park called Carsonia Park near Reading, PA. The new Roadside America Miniature Village was built in what was originally the carousel building for the amusement park and that is where he expanded on his miniature train and village display.
In 1936, Laurence Geiringer’s work was recognized by the Reading Eagle with First Prize in a local contest for Christmas decorating. This was one of the first of many accolades Mr. Geiringer received from local, regional and national media for his work.
Here are some of Mr. Gieringer’s relatives playing in and around the miniature structures.
Mr. Gieringer was known as a master of creating small detailed models. The picture to the left is a model he created for a famous trial involving a lawsuit where workers were killed in a steam engine factory. The model is of the scene of the accident and was used to re-enact the event.
By 1941 it was time to move again in order to accommodate the increasing interest. Mr. Gieringer purchased land in the village of Shartlesville, PA in late 1940 and began to build a warehouse size building for his new and expanded miniature villages and train displays. In 1953, the new Roadside America opened again at its current site along what was then US Route 22 and today is Interstate 78 in Shartlesville, PA. The current display is beautifully maintained; exactly the way Mr. Gieringer left it when he passed away in 1963. It is operated today by his grand-daughter and her family.