Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pemberton seniors enjoy first trip to Northlandz Train Museum

From South Jersey Local News: Pemberton seniors enjoy first trip to Northlandz Train Museum

Wednesday morning the seniors gathered to head for Flemington for an exciting new adventure. Soon 45 seniors would be standing in the unique train museum called “Northlandz.”

This museum is the creation of Bruce Williams Zaccagnino. Located on Route 202 in Flemington, the dream of the Great American Railway at Northlandz began more than 35 years ago as the Williams’ first home was being built in 1972. Every evening he would build parts of his scenic railroad until he finally completed more than 6 miles of track.

Northlandz has become a 16-acre world class attraction developed by Bruce and his wife, Jean. Included in this complex is a doll museum, La Peep Doll House, a 2,000 pipe theater organ (which Bruce plays) and art galleries throughout. The building is reflective of the couples lifelong commitment to art, expression and creativity. This attraction would be of interest for anyone who ever was a child.

The entire complex is handicap accessible with ramps that lead you through the most creative exhibit one could imagine. There are about 100 model trains running on track which extends more than 6 miles total.

Each train runs through a scenic display that has been created by the owner. Thousands of miniature buildings are situated in small villages and reproductions of many famous locations. On a hillside, a large monastery hugs the terrain and has a touch of reality.

Most bridges are made from small “matchstick” type construction, one of which is more than 40 feet long.

Interspersed are many small displays including doll collections, stuffed animals, memorabilia of early inventions and extensive artwork. A 94-room doll house has a plexiglas front so the family living within can be seen enjoying their lives. There is a Beany-Baby collection housed on shelves which would delight any collector. This extensive display of trains, dolls and other collectibles has been entered in the Guiness Book of Records.

A highlight of the day was the organ concert given by Bruce. He is a graduate of Julliard and his major was concert pianist/organist. He played the beautiful Allen organ as few are able with many flourishes and arpeggios.

The seniors were delighted and clapped after each medley of tunes. This was unexpected my many since the multitude of organs and grand pianos just looked like another collection. Bruce included a two-story theatre within the train museum so he could delight visitors with his talents.

Unfortunately the 1890’s replica Narrow Guage Steam Train was broken and not available for rides for the first time in its 14-year history. Bruce assured the seniors it was in the process of being repaired and they would be able to ride it on a return visit. If you plan to take the children to Flemington to enjoy the museum, phone first to see if the train is operational.

Following this delightful and fun filled experience, Marty Gravenstein drove the seniors to the next stop, the Country Griddle. Very soon the seniors were engrossed in the menu offering many choices. Seniors could choose one of four appetizers, one of 20 entrees, one of seven desserts and choice of beverages. Advance copies of the menu had been circulated on the bus so seniors could make a more informed choice.

Once the meal was completed, most seniors left with large boxes of food as take homes.

Liberty Village was the next stop. Shopping included many national brand outlet stores such as Coach, Ann Taylor, J. Crew, and Izod. Seniors were soon looking for bargains and many had large shopping bags as they returned to the bus.

Because of Columbus Day there were many sales and sales upon sales, so bargains were plentiful.

Seniors will need to return next year for more shopping and the ride on the replica steam train.

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