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Road Trip

Roadside America

Sunday, January 2, 2005; Page M08

Where: Shartlesville, Pa.

Why: Sizzling scrapple, a covered bridge and an abundance of Americana in one itty-bitty package.

How Far: About 110 miles, or two hours from Frederick.

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Printable Road Trip Maps
Road Trip Address Lists
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Before you plunge into 2005, consider starting the new year off with a trip back in time -- not just to 2004, but to 1904, 1804 and earlier. At Roadside America in the Pennsylvania hamlet of Shartlesville (you'll know you're there when you see the huge model Amish couple waving at you on I-78), 8,000 square feet of pint-size displays portray everything from pioneer villages to "Joe's Barber Shop," the original Henry Ford operation in Dearborn, Mich., and a 19th-century farm.

All is in motion at this indoor spectacle. Planes buzz; cable cars whirr; street and house lights click on and off; and tiny people work, dance and play (there's even a cameo appearance by a minuscule Benjamin Franklin). Watch as a tiny coal-mine elevator moves up and down, fountains gush real water, and a little blacksmith plies his trade. Every 25 minutes or so, the lights are dimmed and the "Night Pageant" unfolds: Hundreds of stars appear on the ceiling, planes hover over a brightly lit airport and patriotic American folk songs boom over the loudspeakers. And what's a mini-America without a place to engage in a little old-fashioned capitalism? The Pennsylvania Dutch Gift Haus on site sells rock candy, plastic toys and other souvenirs.

Start your trip with a brief detour to drive through a tiny, historic covered bridge. The Roddy Road bridge near Thurmont has spanned Owens Creek for more than 140 years. For the ultimate in time capsules, a visit to the Gettysburg country retreat of President Dwight D. Eisenhower plunks you squarely in the 1950s. Little has changed since Ike ate dinners on TV trays and watched "Gunsmoke" on the tube, from the green linoleum kitchen floors to the pink shag rugs in wife Mamie's bathroom.

Finally, extend your time travel a bit by having lunch at Esther's Restaurant in Fredericksburg, where you can sit on counter stools and savor comfort food such as grilled cheese or meatloaf. It's all served by friendly waitresses in white nylon uniforms. Patricia Weil Coates

Road Trip maps are available online at www.washingtonpost.com/roadtrip, as are addresses and hours of operation (be sure to check before you go). Have an idea for a trip? E-mail roadtrip@washpost.com.


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