Northlandz

"Our problem is telling the world what the heck we got here", says Bruce Zaccagnino, who created the Flemington attraction nearly twenty years ago. It is indeed difficult to describe the jaw-dropping feeling you get when you take this effortless trip into the realm of unfettered imagination along the mile-long one way labyrinth that is Northlandz.

Somehow, along the way, most of us lose the fantastic power of childhood that entitles us to "live" inside a dollhouse, model airplane or a train set. We graduate from the realm of tree forts and clubhouses to the big make-believe ballroom of adulthood, where we choose our corners and our partners. There is nothing childish about Northlanz, although children will equal you in your amazement at this incredible endeavor. A dynamic moving sculpture of Americana, Northlanz is an environment where you can get lost in a universe of ideas.

"Ridiculous, isn't it?" says Zaccagnino gesturing this way and that as we walk the perimeter of canyons full of busy villages, shining cities, towns glued to the sides of mountains overlooking cavernous mines, all linked together by roads and rails built with attention to the most minute detail. Everywhere there are bridges crossing precariously from here to there, from past to future. We pass a golf course, a state fair with a huge roller coaster, a log mill, a monastery, Swiss pasture land, a plane crash, and the world's only toothpick farm poised over rivers that have cut through abysmal chasms. Ridiculously indescribable.

Then there are the trains- 135 miniature trains, starting, stopping, disappearing through tunnels, winding their way through 3,000 scale foot mountains, 38 foot long bridges, thousands of houses, millions of trees. The walk through Northlanz actually takes you up three levels so that you see villages at eye level; through little windows at people inside the houses; and again from far above to appreciate the grand synchronically of movement in the trains. Each time you look, on and on over the deep, deep ravines you will see something new.

Along the outer edge of the trek are 107 kiosks which combine to make a full-blown art gallery. And you will see the world's largest dollhouse. Each hour the Wurlitzer pipe organ plays from the Northlandz theater. Outside the main building you may also enjoy a 1/3 scale railway.

Sometime during the construction of Northlandz, one Swami Jagadishswaranandji from the Hindu Geeta Temple in Queens made his way through the nearly-complete world-class wonder. He was so astounded by the creativity of the breath-taking endeavor, he bestowed Bruce Zaccagnino with the highest honor given by the Hindu faith, the MAAN PATRA. The proclamation reads "... you have divine wisdom, artistic talent and humility which is a gift from God, granted from eternal nature to a very few people in the world."

What happens when artwork becomes life’s work? When creator becomes a caretaker? SOME KIND OF QUEST, from Sylvain Labs, Greencard Pictures and director, Andrew Wilcox, is a film that invites you into the singular world of Northlandz, and into the ornery mind of the man—and steadfast wife—who brought it all to life.

Northlandz occupies a large building on Route 202 S. at River Road just north of Flemington. The superstructure of the present exhibit required enough wood to complete over 40 mid-sized homes. The exhibit is the culmination of 25 years of planning and construction by Mr. Zaccagnino. Call 908/782-4022 or visit their website.

495 Route 202 S. at River Road, Flemington. 908/782-4022

Nearby accommodations and attractions

  • Lamington Lifestyles
  • A Bedminster destination for 31 years (formerly Lamington General Store) located in a restored 1890's general store, Lamington Lifestyles offers two floors brimming with home decor, unique gifts, women's apparel, baby gifts, jewelry and artwork... some designed by over 80 American artisans. Specializing in custom farm tables. Tues-Sat, 10AM-5PM; Sunday, Noon-5PM

    285 Lamington Rd., Bedminster 07921, (908) 439-2034

  • Decoys and Wildlife Gallery
  • This wildlife art gallery contains the area?s largest selection of hand carved decoys, representing carvers across the US, as well as an extensive collection of original paintings by some of the nation's most renowned artists.

    55 Bridge St., Frenchtown 08825, 908/996-6501

  • Ship Inn Restaurant and Brewery
  • New Jersey''s first brewpub where, in addition to14 British ales and hard cider on tap, you can enjoy selections brewed on-site. The menu is derived exclusively from cuisine from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Lively weekend entertainment, on and off premise catering.

    61 Bridge St., Milford 08848, 908/995-7007

  • Historic Hunterdon Taverns
  • Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse
  • Artisanal cheeses, wood fired breads, 100% grass-fed beef, whey fed pork, and suckled veal, 100% grass-fed ice cream, pasta made with Emmer wheat and our own free-range eggs, and pesto made with our own basil! Bread and cheesemaking workshops are held on the working farm as well as weekend tours and occasional concerts.

    369 Stamets Road, Milford 08848, 908/86GRASS

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Comments

Anonymous
26 Mar 2017, 18:56
Just visited in March of 2017. This place is AWESOME. It is so magical. I can't stop thinking about it. In this day and age of box stores where everything looks the same, I can't describe how refreshing it was to see the product of such a unique mind. I will continue to support this place for the rest of my life. The haters are just too stupid to know a good thing when they see it. Thank you to the creator for the wonderful trip, my family loved it!
Karen Heyer
29 Nov 2013, 14:30
I would like to bring my granddaughter for a visit. What are the fees and operating hours, please?
Jim Daili
07 Mar 2012, 17:35
Not good, dusty, dirty, needs to close for a few months and clean up it's act. Why can't the owner see the burnt out lights? and cob webs? Time for new glasses! and windex......
joe Nielsen
17 Jul 2010, 16:41
Everyone is allowed his opinion -- that is why they have horse races isn't it. I rode trains in many parts of the US and in foreign lands; one thing I have always been aware of is the lack of trains I encountered on along the way. That has never disappointed me, in fact it was always more pleasing to enjoy the backdrop of scenery as my trains clattered along the rails across deserts and through snow covered mountains; allowing my imagination to run wild at the wonder and magic of the passing scenery. Strolling through Northlandz I am able to recapture the thrill and wonder of the real thing -- the enchantment of the landscape, the long and lonely railbed interspersed with a few small towns and people wtaching and waving as they stand to watch the train pass by. Northlandz adds one othet thing, the glory of what a man with a vision can create with his mind and then with his hands having no other reason than to share his joy and love to those who visit this magnificent location. I have been to Northlandz twice and I know I will be there again, and again and again. There are many place you can go if all you want to see are trains, trains and trains. I am also an enthusiast but for pure spectacle and beauty Northlandz is the place for me.
Eric Kamander
07 Feb 2010, 20:45
I just went there with my family and there were hundreds of trains running.
JennyO
20 Dec 2009, 10:30
We were just there, place is huge! They must not read the internet posts? More trains is an EZ fix for a train show! No real Christmas Stuff either, what a shame for the kid in all of us.
Barbara Rottner
18 Oct 2009, 09:40
I concur with Ron Scott. If you are going to a train show you want to see trains running. That would make it worthwhile for adult enthusiasts and young boys and young adults.
Ron Scott
17 Jan 2009, 14:21
I took my Wife and Mother today to visit Northlanz after a friend memtioned how nice it was. Being a "Train Buff" I was excited to see this attraction and display. After spending $38.00 for the three of us to get in, we were very impressed with the displays and work that went into the scenery and buildings. Our main dissapointment was the lack of "Trains" running. There were a few running but when I go to a "Train Display" I expect to see TRAINS! There were many "Trains" sitting idle and miles of unused track just yearning to have a train running around and showing off! Because of this, I will inform anyone who is thinking of going, to be prepared to see great scenery and houses and buildings but not "Trains" For this reason, this will be the last time I visit! Another visitor asked the ticket seller why so few trains were running? He was told the people complained of "too many trains running". WHY go to a "TRAIN" display if you don't want to see "TRAINS"???
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