One more of the “bucket list” items on my list (for at least 15 years), is Northlandz, “the largest model railroad layout in the world.”
Now, granted, after seeing the “Corn Palace” and a few of the other “only in the world” types of attractions, you learn to temper your expectations. On top of this, I have seen tons of layouts, including a few at some National Model Railroad conventions.
It is multileveled (three floors) and immense in size and scope. It has a legitimate “Guinness Book of World Records” certificate, and I strongly doubt that anyone will ever beat this achievement in size, scope or detail. Once again…I spent the entire 1.5 hours (moving at a solid, steady rate) with an “idiot grin” on my face.
It is the kind of place that makes you feel 12 again, and is even better when you go with kids…which we did.
First of all, I realize that as a former marketing weasel, I am prone to hyperbole. But, there just aren’t enough words in the “Advertiser’s Bible” (which begins with the words, “For One Day Only…”), to describe this place. It is simply amazing.
It also goes along with our trip’s theme of seeing places that came into being as one man’s obsession gone wild. According to the History of Northlandz, “As developer, creator and artist behind Northlandz, Bruce Williams Zaccagnino has added several new skills to a long list of accomplishments. A concert musician, successful entrepreneur, multi-award winning computer software game developer and publisher (Perfect General, Solitaire’s Journey), Mr. Williams has spent a lifetime working at what he loves.”
And boy…do he and his wife love model railroads. I’m still trying to figure out of this was his house first…because if it was/is, I have no idea where the hell they live, as every space is loaded to the gills with trains, dollhouse stuff…and a huge theater dedicated to his amazing concerts on multi-media organs, pipe organs, and electronic keyboards.
Rather than keep trying to explain the place…know that it is on three levels, that loop for what seems forever. At one point, Brandon ran ahead and screamed, “It’s Still Not Finished!!!” (after more than an hour and a half, and 25% more to go).
We then finished the afternoon with a ride on Bruce’s Personal Train…in his “backyard.”
This is a MUST SEE…for anyone who simply wants to marvel at the labors and results of a guy who just wants to bring joy to the world. As he said, “If you can create your own enthusiasm, you can do anything, and if you maintain that enthusiasm you can do it well.”
This was his house??? OK then…
What follows is about 1/4 of the pics I took. It is but a sampling of what we saw…
One trademark of the traditional Model Railroad enthusiast, is a quirky sense of humor.
This place (according to the storyboard), is the result of a “hold out” for property owners who were being bought out by the quarry owner. So…they just did the quarry around her.
One of the most distinctive features of this huge, never-ending layout, are countless bridges, culverts, trestles, and suspension walkways…all laid in by hand, piece by piece.
Attention to little details are what make a good layout, great… I could have spent an entire day, discovering all of the little details that made every scene realistic and charming…like a parade celebration on main street of this small town (one of about 100).
This is the one and only Faux Pas in the entire layout… A huge, cool, city…with nobody on the streets. Looks great from a distance…but makes you wonder what happened to the people.
Looking down at the detail of the layout, three stories below…
A little more humor with this entertainment deck… watch that last step, it’s a doozy!
Another “view from above” that shows the size, planning, and scope of this place.
Just part of the 92 “rooms” of Doll House displays…
The kids from “Our Gang”…complete with Alfalfa’s cowlick.
A DEEEEEEEEEEP Loop of track…that loops forever.
A rescue goes well…even if the plane defies gravity…
A recreation of the driving of the Golden Spike
And then…BOOM! We are on the REAL train…and taking the loop around the expansive property, along the river.
Austin, Ryan, Katie and Brandon…kids and kids at heart!
Again…if you are every anywhere near NorthLandz, in Flemmington, NJ…GO!!!!
Tomorrow…the 4th, and what it means to me…in an election year like no other.