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Nestled away deep in the heart of Hunterdon County is a spectacular place called Northlandz.
This place of adventure includes a 1-mile indoor tour through a magnificent miniature world. With up to 100 trains running daily on 8 miles of track you simply won’t believe your eyes; it is easy to see how 25 years went into sculpting the 35-foot mountains and building the 40-foot bridges. Your kids will marvel at the thousands of handcrafted buildings and over 10,000 freight cars.
Northlandz is a 16-acre world-class attraction developed by Bruce Williams and his wife Jean. The complex includes: the La Peep Doll House, a doll museum, a theater pipe organ, and various art galleries. The building is reflective of the couple’s lifelong commitment to art, expression, and creativity.
Mr. Williams’ dream began more than 25 years ago as the Williams’ first home was being built in 1972. The story goes that as the builders would leave for the day, Mr. Williams would escape to the basement and begin creating scenes for his new passion. Mountain passes were erected, complete with bridges and buildings. The workers would return the next day and remove the new additions so they could continue their work, but Bruce kept building the exhibits nightly. Thus, a 24-year labor of love began, which has resulted in the world’s largest model railroad.
Scenes on the railway line include a desert that comes complete with a Native American village, a fort, and an adobe village. Tourists enter and tour the fort while trains loop through the entire display. In addition, every bridge in Northlandz is handcrafted by Bruce and each is gingerly placed in its appropriate position. Believe it or not, they even have simulated plane crashes and train derailments at Northlandz; but fear not – not a single person has been injured during landings at the Northlandz Airport. The attention to detail of the derailment is astounding and, with up to 100 trains running daily, there is always at least one derailment.
When you visit, be sure to walk along the “canyons” filled with busy villages and notice the shining cities and towns glued to the sides of mountains overlooking cavernous m ines that all linked together by intricately designed roads and rails. There are bridges crossing everywhere, a golf course, a state fair with a huge roller coaster, a log mill, and a monastery. Another truly amazing section is the world’s only toothpick farm.
Then there are the trains – 135 miniature trains, starting, stopping, and disappearing through tunnels, winding their way through mountains, 38-foot long bridges, and thousands of houses and trees. The walk through Northlandz actually takes you up three levels so you can see villages at eye level, and through little windows, people are visible inside the houses. From far above you can appreciate the precise movement in the trains, and each time you look over the deep ravines you are guaranteed to see something new. Also a must-see is the Raritan River Railway. You can ride this steam replica (2/3 scale) through tunnels and over bridges through nature-rich woodlands.
Another exhibit at Northlandz is the La Peep Dollhouse, which is a 94-room “mini” mansion and is probably every dollhouse lover’s dream. It comes complete with an indoor swimming pool, a ballroom with a doggie band, and a two-story library. After visiting the dollhouse check out the Doll Museum where there are more than 200 collectible dolls from around the world.
Inside the Music Hall there is a 2,000 pipe organ, which is the centerpiece of this 500 seat theater, and it truly creates an inspiring atmosphere. It is played several times daily and is literally music to your ears. In addition, an art gallery offers a cultural array of more than 250 paintings and other works of art.
Over the years, Mr. Williams has added several new skills to his long list of accomplishments. A concert musician, successful entrepreneur, multi-award-winning computer software game developer and publisher, he has spent his lifetime working at what he loves. In 1977, he was persuaded by friends to host an annual train show for a local charity. The weekend show soon attracted 1,500 visitors daily. Several national television broadcasts and television coverage by German, Swedish, and Japanese stations contributed to its growing popularity, leading to the idea for a year-round attraction.
“This is what we do,” says Mr. Williams, who along with his wife’s steadfast support works 365 days a year. He adds, “If you can create your own enthusiasm, you can do anything.”
Cool facts about Northlandz
Tour Length: 1 Mile
Highest Mountain: 30 feet (6,000 scale feet)
Longest Bridge: 40 feet
Number of Bridges: 300 — 400
Number ofTrains: 100+
Feet ofTrack: 50,000 (8 miles) - Atlas Super-Flex track
Wood: Enough wood to build 42 large houses (52,000 square feet)
Lichen Trees: 500,000+
495 Highway 202 South
Flemington, NJ 08822
Children 2 - 12 years: $9.75
Children under 2 years: FREE
Sunday: 10:30 am – 5:30 pm
Monday: 10:30 am – 4:00 pm
Wednesday: 10:30 am – 4:00 pm
Thursday: 10:30 am – 4:00 pm
Friday: 10:30 am – 4:00 pm
Saturday: 10:30 am – 5:30 pm
*Closed Tuesdays year round, except for Christmas week.
Grand opening of “Club Car Cafe”
Featuring Nathan’s Famous Hot dogs, popcorn, Otis Spunkmeyer’s muffins and cookies, a variety of hot and cold beverages, and much more.
DIRECTIONSFrom the Flemington Circle
Follow Route 202 North to the Three Bridges; make a U turn. Follow 202 South for about 1 mile. Northlandz will be on your right.
Follow either Route 80 West or 78 West to Route 287 South.Take 287 South to the 202 South Somerville exit. Once on 202 South, go approximately 10 miles to Northlandz, which is on the southbound side, 1 mile before the Flemington Circle.
For all other information regarding exhibitions, special events, or programs visit their website at www.northlandz.com
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