American Treasure Tour
Back in August, on the first day of our road trip, I parked in a large, mostly empty parking lot next to a former tire factory. My mom, who prefers not to know most of our road trip stops ahead of time, was confused. Even I was wondering if I had the right location, but just a few minutes later we found ourselves in the middle of one of the most eclectic, enormous collections I’ve ever seen. The American Treasure Tour, located in a 100,000 square foot facility in Oaks, Pennsylvania, is the work of one, anonymous collector.
The facility is open for tours Thursdays through Sunday, but we were the only ones there on a Friday afternoon. Visitors are allowed to wander through portions of the collection on their own, but the guided tram tour is where you see the majority of the mind-boggling amount of stuff.
It’s probably easier to say what isn’t in the collection (if there’s anything actually missing)—but on the tour you’ll see mannequins, wax figures, stuffed animals, miniatures, doll houses, pianos, classic cars, holiday decorations, dolls, radios, signs, wheelchairs, bicycles, movie posters, circus wagons, pipe organs and pretty much anything else you can possibly imagine.
The collection also includes an enormous shoe, the World’s Largest Slinky and the World’s Largest Popsicle Stick Castle, made from nearly 400,000 popsicle sticks. Perhaps the most whimsical thing about the tour is that so many things move or make sound—animated window display figures do flips and Wurlitzer organs play in harmony as you slowly make your way around the complex.
The American Treasure Tour is impressive not just for its scale, but for its organization and cleanliness—when the entire collection has been dusted, the process immediately starts over again at the beginning. I’m dying to know more about the owner, who has been collecting for more than 50 years with no end in sight—our tour guide said that new pieces appear frequently.
They say one man’s trash is another’s treasure and that’s true here to the extreme. I appreciate the equalizing nature of the collection, with no one thing appearing to hold more significance than another—priceless cars are parked right next to old Chuck E. Cheese figurines and cheap, creepy dolls are perched on one-of-a-kind antiques, proving that under the right circumstances, everything—even a lowly popsicle stick—can have value.