Monday, July 26, 2010

It's A Tiny World After All

I can't believe that a man has built a miniature village in his back yard and opened it up to the public, and it's only about 30 miles from my house and I only discovered a week ago! Such is the case with Tiny World, an elaborate backyard world of knee-high buildings hiding in the farmlands of Chambersburg, PA.

The story behind Tiny World begins with a man named Ernest Helm who started building miniature houses as a hobby. After he finished one house, he'd build another...and another...and another...until he had himself a whole village. There's about two dozen or so buildings on display in Tiny World, all laid out on a cozy tiny path that winds through Helm's picturesque backyard.

It's not really even a tourist attraction. There's no signs pointing you to Tiny World, there's no brochures at the local visitor centers. Tiny World actually sits out in the middle of nowhere along a winding, narrow road. There's not even a sign in front of Tiny World. While hunting this place down, at first I drove by it and only slowed down when I noticed a tiny church on the side of the road. There is a small parking pad and a castle entrance which invites guests to "Look" but "Please Don't Touch". If it wasn't for the entrance, you'd feel like you were trespassing.

Here's the Tiny World Courthouse, or course they only handle small cases. Tiny World is also home to a farm, a ski lodge, several churches, and a mill. It's a weird little roadside oddity because it literally sits in someones backyard. As you walk along the trail to visit the various pint-sized locations you stroll right next to the family's pool and along their covered patio.

However, it looks as if Tiny World hasn't had an active mayor in a year or two. The mini-attraction hasn't fallen into complete disrepair, but it's apparent that it has not been attended to in over a year or two. Debris from trees covers the pathways and several of the buildings are starting to show their age and a little bit of neglect.

I looks as if at one time Tiny World had an operating railroad. In fact, much of Tiny World looks like it was wired for electricity. There are a few miniature street lights that line the path through Tiny World, however there are more that appear to be missing. The paddle wheel of the mill looked like it one time turned, dumping tiny bits of water into the tiny pond. And there are Christmas lights on some of the buildings. Based on internet chatter, Tiny World used to be quite the holiday display come Christmas time.

That's not to say that Tiny World isn't still a cool thing to see. It's an amazing piece of work especially when you consider it wasn't built for profit - just to pass the time. The attention to detail is outstanding. Inside the Tiny World schoolhouse are rows and rows of desks, each with teeny-tiny books and papers and a students name on each desk. Some of the other buildings are filled with plenty of little details too..

the gas station

the firehouse

...and check out the crazy detail inside the Tiny World restaurant:

The real world would be a better place if there were more miniature villages built in dude's backyards...I'm just sayin'!

Tiny World is located at 6720 Rice Road in Shippensburg, PA. It's apparently only 2 miles away from The World's Largest Paint Can, which we didn't get a chance to see but that's another trip!

Read a more in-depth article and review at Roadside America or if you can't get enough of me talking about the place you can also read an addition review of Tiny World that I had published on Roadside America's Tip Page.

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