If you ever visited me in Reading, I probably took you here, to one of my very favorite places in Reading (besides the Pagoda): Roadside America! Located in Shartlesville, PA, this truly amazing roadside attraction right off I-78 is a national treasure and a labor of love created by one man, Laurence Gieringer. As a kid, he and his brother ran up to Mt. Penn (where the Pagoda is) one day and looked down on the city of Reading below and thought how neat it would be to build their own tiny world. Mr. Gieringer made his first little house in the early 1900s, and he kept expanding this miniature world and its train tracks until his passing in 1963.
Virtually nothing has changed in Roadside America since then (although I do miss his little signs that said things like, "Note: Tree Blown Over by Storm" – those don't seem to be up right now). This is the sort of place that you have wonderful memories of visiting as a child, and then when you return as an adult, it is just as magical and special, maybe more so. The entire miniature world is about 7,450 sq. feet, and there is always more to see! There are also lots of buttons to push to, say, make a donkey bray or a blacksmith strike his tiny anvil. You can see a lovely profile of it on last weekend's CBS Sunday Morning.
Mr. Gieringer's granddaughter and her family run it now, and she has recently announced that Roadside America is for sale. I sure hope that a local person (or the Reading Museum or the Berks History Center) can purchase it, or failing that, the Smithsonian can! (Anyone know anybody at these places?) It is a very special place, and I hope everyone has an opportunity to visit it this summer!