For a blog centered on road trips, the United States presents an almost endless list of attractions of the unique, the strange, and the odd for future posts. For instance, there is the World’s Largest Ball of Twine in Kansas. The World’s Largest Cherry Pie in Michigan. The World’s Largest Grandfather Clock in Wisconsin. The World’s Largest Pistachio in New Mexico. The World’s Tallest Thermometer in California. The World’s Largest Ketchup Bottle in Illinois. I have visited the World’s Largest Elephant in Margate, New Jersey and the World’s Largest Indoor Miniature Village in Shartlesville, Pennsylvania. On a beautiful Saturday afternoon in early November, I added another to the list of roadside Americana… the World’s Largest Model Railroad!
Opening in 1997, Northlandz is the work of Bruce Williams Zaccagnino, a model railroad enthusiast whose basement train set kept expanding, and expanding, and expanding. Eventually outgrowing his home, Zaccagnino bought the property for Northlandz and took over four years to build the three-story tall model railroad set. The set is comprised of over 8 miles of model railroad track, over 400 bridges, the tallest model mountain is over 30 feet tall, and guests who tour through the entire set will walk over one mile. I had driven past Northlandz several times until this weekend, when my wife and I stopped by to see if it lived up to the hype. Spoiler alert: It most certainly did.
Perhaps this short video can help to capture the scale and detail of Northlandz:
Northlandz was a fascinating exhibit, and a testament to one man’s passion for his hobby (along with, as the museum continuously reminds you, the understanding of his patient wife). Northlandz is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday year round from 10:30 am until 5:00 pm. Admission is $15.75 per adult, seniors are $13.50, children are $10.75, and children under 2 years old can enter for free. While the prices might seem high, the proceeds go to keeping this literal “mom-and-pop” operation running and well maintained. If you’d like to learn more about Northlandz, I would recommend this excellent article from Atlas Obscura, which includes a link to the owner and creator of the museum. Would I recommend visiting Northlandz? Absolutely.
Thanks for coming long on another journey down the open road ahead!
4 thoughts on “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.”
That is so cute! I don’t know if I missed this detail, but what “scale” is the set? I used to model railroad in “N” scale which is smaller than “HO.” In fact, I still have a train set that’s permanently mounted to a board – complete with mountains, rivers, lakes, and homes that illuminate. I need to give it to my niece and nephews. Lol at the train wreck scene in this one. Good stuff! The miniature golf course was pretty clever too.
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Thanks Tyson! Most of the set is HO gauge, although there is a section of Lionel (O Gauge) that was inoperative because it was being restored (which was a shame, because I had a Lionel set as a kid). The sense of humor for a lot of the dioramas was terrific, and helped make it even more memorable. Thanks for reading!