Roadside America and the Engine(s) of Progress


Along the rolling, bucolic stretch of I-78 between Allentown and Harrisburg, billboards entice travelers to exit at Shartlesville for “Roadside America: The World’s Greatest Indoor Miniature Village.” A local institution since 1953, this attraction features remarkably detailed, handcrafted, miniature scenes of American history, industry, and progress, arranged in a sweeping, eight-thousand-square-foot tabletop tableau. The life’s work of creator Laurence T. Gieringer, Roadside America, with its emphasis on models of regional landmarks and locales, serves as a multifaceted material-culture “text” through which to explore key relationships between energy sources and Pennsylvania’s lived history.