Mountain Spring Campground Resort
Yesterday I told you about our tour to the oldest brewery in the US--Yuengling Brewery. Now I mentioned that there were two places on our bucket list that we were checking off. The second one was Roadside America.
I'm sure I've passed this at least ten times over the years but never stopped. I always thought of it as a tourist trap. A fellow wood carver told us that we'd enjoy the place so I added it to the wish list a few years ago.
It does look like a tourist trap, doesn't it? You wouldn't believe how large the building appears once inside.
Roadside America is touted as the World's Greatest Indoor Miniature Village. Just a suggestion, if you plan to visit it take the time to read the brochure about how this came about and all the history that encompasses the village.
After we paid our senior admission of $7.00 we entered the village. Our timing was perfect as they were ready to begin the night pageant. Everyone was directed to the rear of the display where there were bleachers for seating.
Now here is where Bill and I were upset. They began the night pageant with a photo of the American flag and the Statue of Liberty. They started the program with the Star Spangled Banner. Can you believe that Bill and I were the only ones standing? Here's families with kids and they are all sitting there talking. Don't you wonder what those parents are teaching their kids? What kind of education are our school children getting? No wonder their is no pride in America. This was yesterday and I still get riled writing this blog about it. All right, I'll get off my soapbox.
When Laurence Gieringer was around ten and his brother, Paul, who was two years younger used to play near Mt. Penn they thought it would be fun to make a miniature building the way it looked to them from faraway Reading.
When they told their parents about carving little houses their parents were so pleased that their dad made them a work bench and gave them some tools. When it was cold and damp in the cellar, Mom would allow them to use the kitchen table. Of course, they never worked until all their homework was completed.
The boys did odd jobs to earn money for supplies such as nails, glue, and paint. This was during the times when incomes were small, and parents rarely had money to survive on, much less give to their kids.
Sister Mary Concordia who was an artist gave Saturday drawing lessons to the boys for three cents a lesson. Most kids would have been outside playing on a Saturday.
Seven years later, Paul joined the priesthood but encouraged Larry to continue building his historic village.
Larry married Dora Seisler, the girl next door, and had two children. The children were responsible for some detailed work and painting.
During the depression, friends and family were helpful. One friend sent a three ton truck full of old furniture that did not sell at an auction for model making.
Christmas of 1935 Larry set up part of his miniatures for the local children. The local Reading newspaper featured the story and the Rainbow Fire Company donated the use of their building with the earnings going to the local charities. This was the first of the official public exhibit.
In 1938 at Carsonia Park, the exhibit was 1,500 square feet. In 1941 it was moved to nearby Hamburg, PA where it remained until it was moved to its permanent site in Shartlesville where the remaining family members operate the attraction today.
There is no way you can get the entire village in one photo.
This is right before the Night Pageant begins. Notice the flag and Statue of Liberty. The lights change from daylight to night. You'll see the lights in the homes come on, street lights working and lights on the trains and autos.
Each one of the 66 different scenes are from a different historical period. I was trying to remember what the time period was. I noted that the Old State House building was around 1765. I also saw a lot of cars that were in the late 50's. Laurence died in 1963.
All along the exterior of the exhibit were buttons to push which activated the movement, lights, sound and action.
You just can not believe the detail that goes into Laurence's story telling of the time period.
I wish I could have read the brochure better in the dim lights so I didn't miss anything.
I know this is a poor photo but remember me telling you a few days ago about our tour of the grist mill? Since a grist mill was America's first industry, naturally, Laurence made a couple of grist mills in his village. Was I ever surprised when I pushed "the button" and the movement was the noose lifting the 100 pound bags from the wagons.
It's one of those places that you could return to again and again.
Unfortunately, not all of the photos came out well.
This was such a pleasant surprise. I never expected to enjoy the miniature village as much as we did. Add it to your bucket list, if you haven't seen it.