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The U.S. state of Pennsylvania is known as the state where the United States of America began with the drafting and the signing of the Declaration of Independence at the Pennsylvania State House in the city of Philadelphia. (It is Independence Hall today.) The state is also known for its coal mines and factories in small towns. In the central part of the state, the East Broad Top Railroad was a narrow gauge railroad constructed in the 1870’s to connect the mines and factories to the main line in the top of Mount Union, Pennsylvania. This continued until the 1950’s where the rail service began to decline. The line was abandoned.
In 1960, the East Broad Top Railroad began running excursions trains, and the excursions trains continued until 2011. The line was abandoned for good.
Or was it?
The Friends of the East Broad Top Railroad purchased the property, and railroad excursions returned in 2020. The trains are running again.
The East Broad Top Railroad is the only narrow gauge railroad in the eastern United States and one of only a few east of the Mississippi. Along with the train rides, you can also take a shop tour to see the old round house and the repair shops.
The East Broad Top Railroad is located at 421 East Meadow Street (Pennsylvania Route 994) in Rockhill Furnace, Pennsylvania just west of U.S. Route 552. Parking is on site. You can read more into the railroad at https://eastbroadtop.com/.
The East Broad Top has returned. Come and take a ride on America’s most authentic narrow gauge railroad.
The town of Point of Rocks in the U.S. state of Maryland is a small town on the Potomac River that gets its name from a rock formation. It is a place with a historic train station, and it is known as a great train watching spot as it is at a junction of two rail routes. (They were original lines of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, but they are owned by CSX today.) Once a passenger train station, it is a commuter train station for trains going to Union Station today. The train station, built by Ephraim Francis Baldwin in 1876, is on the National Register of Historic Places, but it is not open to the public as it serves as offices for CSX. As a railroad town, it has seen some railroad battles.
As the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was building the railroad toward the Ohio River Valley in Pennsylvania and Ohio, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was being built to connect barge traffic between the Chesapeake Bay and the Ohio River. Both the railroad and the canal converged at Point of Rocks. Both wanted the passage along the Potomac River. The result was that the passage was shared by both the railroad and the canal. Originally constructed as a single line, a second line was constructed by tunneling through the mountain with two tunnels with the original line still on its original route around the mountain. The tunnels are still in operation today and can be seen from the old Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Tow Path.
The second battle at Point of Rocks and the railroad took place during the American Civil War. This war was led by the famous Confederate General Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson who led the Confederate Army across the Potomac River to Point of Rocks attacking the railroad line and seizing 56 locomotives and 300 rail cars. During the war, the railroad line attacked numerous times. Henry A. Cole was put in charge of what was known as Cole’s Maryland Cavalry who was set in the town to protect the railroad from future attacks.
Today, the main action in the town of Point of Rocks, Maryland are the trains passing through the junction. The trains pass through safely today, and many train watchers flock here to watch them roll by.
Point of Rocks, Maryland is served by U.S. Route 15 which crosses the Potomac River. The old train station is on Maryland Route 28 east of U.S. Route 15 beside the Marc Commuter lot. It is wheelchair accessible.
The next time you are in Point of Rocks watching the trains, remember that it is a quiet place where the railroad brought much turmoil.
Flemington, New Jersey is a town that is situated about halfway between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New York City, New York. It is one of the places where you can board the Black River and Western Railroad, and one of the old train stations is now a bank. The town is not known to be a tourism town, but it is the home of a very great attraction.
Welcome to Northlandz, home of a large model train display.
Some of you are saying, “Not again. It is just another one of those model train displays. The trains go around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around. It is the same old thing.”
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Northlandz. As mentioned, it is the home of an exceptionally large model train display. You pay your admission. Then you enter to see the display. You see a model train yard. Train go through just like any other train display. It is structures just like any other model train display. It has scenery just like any other model train display.”
Some of you are saying, “Just like I said. It is just another model train display. The people who built this thing says that this is different from anything you have ever seen before. The problem is that it is just like the others. Go to a local train show. You will see what you see at this place.”
Why come to Northlandz? Why travel to this town in New Jersey? It has trains just like any other model train display. It has structures and scenery like any other train display. Therefore, it is a waste of time to travel to this place.
If that is what you are thinking, welcome to Northlandz.
As mentioned, you first see a train yard. You see cliffs but wait. You see train tracks. Trains go by. You continue to a lake. The lake becomes a stream. The stream flows between two high cliffs where the trains run alongside. You look up. You see bridges. You see more bridges. Then, you see tunnels and bridges. You see towering scenery with trains and trains and bridges. Then there is a huge valley with bridges and trains.
Do you still think that this is one of those model train displays?
This model train display is huge. How huge? The walking path that takes you to every section to see every part of this display… is about three miles long. It is on three levels. There is eight miles of track, four hundred tunnels, over one thousand buildings, over one hundred bridges and two hundred fifty thousand trees, and there are sixty trains running at one time. Yes, it is that big. Make sure that your camera is fully charged and that your card has plenty of space. You will be taking plenty of pictures. There are great shots at every turn.
Some of you are saying, “Is it really this big?”
So, you need evidence. Is there any evidence? If there is any evidence, where can you go to get it? Ladies and gentlemen, the evidence is easy to get. All you need is a copy of the Guinness Book of World Records. Yes, we are talking about that Guinness Book of World Records, the book that contains, of course, world records. This display holds the world record for the longest laid HO scale track in the world and the world’s largest miniature wonderland.
Some of you are saying, “Wow! That is incredible. I know that it took hundreds of people to build this thing.”
When you see this thing, you may think that… but you will be wrong. This whole display is the work of one man: Bruce William Zaccagnino. It took five years to build working sixteen-hour days. What began in his home was eventually moved into the current structure today. It appears as if you are looking at a theater or maybe a hotel, but when you go inside, you will see a great show, and you will find this place a great place to stay. Today, Bruce is less involved with the display and has put Northlandz under new management who is keeping this great attraction open for many generations to see.
Along with the model trains, there is also an organ which Bruce plays in a theater, named the Great American Theater, (as mentioned, it looks like a theater on the outside) with a large chandelier to give it the grand theater look. It is home to the Doll Museum that features his wife’s doll collection where dolls and doll houses are displayed, and art gallery, old model trains on display, a play area for the kids and a full-scale outdoor train. Be advised that you, friends, and family are going to enjoy your visit.
Northlandz is located northeast of Flemington, New Jersey on U.S. Route 202. The address is 495 U.S. Highway 202. Admission is required. Parking is on site. It is open from 10:00am to 6:00pm and closed on Tuesdays. You can get more information at www.northlandz.com, and you can also read more about Bruce Zaccagnino and how he built the display millions enjoy today.
Do you need to escape? Go to Northlandz in Flemington, New Jersey where you will find yourself in a whole new world… of trains.
What in the world is Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio? The village was an idea by a man named Erie Sauder. His vision was to create a village with old structures from the past so that when people visit, they are taken back in time to see life in the region of northwestern Ohio. Visitors would see people in period attire doing crafts like woodworking, sewing, weaving, tin making and so many other crafts. As the world around the region was changing, Erie Sauder wanted every visitor to never forget the ways and the values of life in the United States of America. When you visit the Sauder Village, you will have that experience. You will see 75 structures plus a museum telling the stories of yesteryear and farms where you can pet the animals. Even though Erie Sauder has passed on, his granddaughter continues to run the Sauder Village the same way her grandfather did. This includes the building of the brand new 1920’s Main Street Village that you can enjoy. If you are anywhere in the northwestern region of Ohio or in southern part of Michigan or in the northeastern region of Indiana, you will want to make your way to Sauder Village.
Some of you are saying, “This must be one great place. It is great that this man created this village to remind people of what America was like and to remind everyone of what having good values can do for us and for generations to come. There is one problem. You see, you have structures and crafts people, but no trains. Therefore, I do not see the value of visiting Sauder Village.”
So, you think that it is a waste of time to visit Sauder Village because there is no railroad here. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Sauder Village.
As mentioned, Sauder Village is a living history village that is a reminder of America’s past. It consists of many structures plus a frontier homestead, a Native American camp, and a few farms plus a museum. Another great feature is the Erie Express.
What is the Erie Express? Added to the village in 2006, the Erie Express is a miniature train pulled by a replica C. P. Huntington steam locomotive. You board the train, and you ride through swamp land and open fields. You arrive at the Elmira Depot which is part of the new 1920’s Main Street. You take a tour of the old depot and see the waiting room and the ticket office. Well, you get back on the train and ride again. Of everything you see at the Sauder Village, it may be the highlight of your visit.
Now, what was that about there being no railroads at Sauder Village? Now you have a reason to come here.
As mentioned, the Sauder Village is the creation of Erie Sauder, and the village remains in the family. The family continues to run the village the same way Erie would want to have it run. You will be taken back in time, and you will be disappointed when the village closes for the day because you will not want to leave. Along with the village, museum and train ride, the Sauder Village also has a restaurant, café, coffee shop, ice cream parlor, donut shoppe and a place where you can spend the night.
Sauder Village is located at 22611 Ohio Route 2 north of the town of Archbold. It is four miles south of the Ohio Turnpike (Interstates 80 and 90), eight miles north of U.S. Route 6 and ten miles south of U.S. Route 20. The living history village is open from May to December while the restaurants, the retails shops and the inn are open year-round. Parking is on site. You can get more information at https://saudervillage.org/. You can also read more into the life of Erie Sauder and into the creation of Sauder village, and if you have the time, are worth the time to read.
Make your way to the Sauder Village in Ohio. Come see Erie Sauder’s great creation. Come see a place where time stands still. Come ride the Erie Express and visit the Elmira Depot. The Sauder family would love to have you visit.