If you've been wondering what Mr. T. has been up to lately, he's been right here having a stroll in the park in the inter-active Tiny Town Trains, along with Dolly, Willie, Urkel, Donnie and Marie, to name a few.
And speaking of celebs, there's Danny Thomas coming out of St. Jude's Children's Hospital. Danny, St. Jude's and Mr. T. are the handiwork of the late Frank and Louise Moshinskie, creators of Tiny Town in Hot Springs, touted as the world's largest animated miniature city, an assertion that I have no cause to doubt. The business is now operated by their two sons, Charles Moshinskie and his wife Barbara of Hot Springs and Dr. Jim Moshinskie of Waco, Texas. They are very proud to continue their parents' hobby-turned-business.
Frank Moshinskie started at age thirteen working on this miniature world. As a boy he would annually set up his toy trains on a plywood board around the family Christmas tree. After the Christmas of his thirteenth year, he decided not to take it down--ever. Rather, he started expanding his miniature town. It became a neighborhood attraction in Baton Rouge, LA, and he would charge his guests to see the sights. By gradual steps, his operation became commercial.
Early on, Moshinskie tended to favor western scenes (don't forget, this was the 1930's). Eventually, Tiny Town's subject matter went national, and finally global. That's the Materhorn rising above Mount Rushmore in the photos.
In 1962, after a tornado ripped the roof off his site in Baton Rouge, the insurance company settled his claim for $1,200. He had recently visited Hot Springs and was really taken with the town. When he added up the expense of moving Tiny Town to Hot Springs, the bill came to $1,194. He took this as a sign that God approved of his decision to move.
Don't come to Hot Springs without setting aside an hour to see Tiny Town and run the trains yourself. There is very little store-bought in the craftsmanship. For example, the guide will reach down and pick up a tree off the landscape and show you it's made of tin cans, sticks, wire and sawdust.
There're no kit buildings from "Plasticville, U.S.A." in Tiny Town. That's really the magic of the attraction, the fact that so much of it is made from scratch, and recall that some of this stuff was made out of matches and paperclips by a teenager in the 1930's.
Further, there is an interactive component to the attraction. Pushbuttons along the rails start trains, fire guns in the miniature shooting gallery, initiate a bear-dance and more. You get to run the trains! And the place is kid-friendly, they will love it! Ours did - our boys and our girls! It was the highlight of their vacation!
I could stare at this thing for hours, marveling at the richness of the detail and the resourcefulness of the workman. My favorite pieces are the in the old western section of the display. I keep imagining this teenager dragging materials out of the family garbage and using them to fashion animated figures, functioning windmills which pump water which flows down a chute, running a tiny sawmill.
You representationalists are likely to consider the artwork a little on the primitive side. Well, you've been spoiled by Hollywood-style miniatures. There's real spirit in this work. The Moshinskie family has a gift, and it costs only four bucks for adults and three bucks of children. Go and see it with the family. Tiny Town is at 374 Whittington Avenue in Hot Springs - Google it.
<- Miniature blacksmith shop is one of the hundreds of man-made animated scenes within Tiny Town. The horse's tail actually sways back and forth as he waits his turn, while the tiny blacksmith actually moves his hammer as he flattens the horseshoe.
Tiny Town is the creation of a man and woman who is no longer with us, Frank and Louise Moshinskie. Moshinskie began work on this miniature town at the age of 13. It is now run proudly by his son and his daughter-in-law, Charles and Barbara Moshinskie, and their other son, Dr. Jim Moshinskie, who have not added a thing to the town, but maintain the many motors that power it. Mr. Moshinskie created Tiny Town, mostly from scrap items or trash. There are people carved out of wooden spools. Dryer motors were refurbished to power the lights and run the trains of Tiny Town.
As a child, I adored this attraction. A whole little town on giant pieces of plywood. We'd go every year and see what new figures had been added, especially on the walk of fame. When I got older, I started to think going to Tiny Town was dumb. We'd pay money to hear the same thing and see the same things and then it seemed like we were basically making fun of the people. But I tell you what (now I'm talking like I'm FROM Arkansas for Pete's sake), Tiny Town is what it is. Hilarious. Absurd. Neat if you are a kid. And is the joke on the owners of Tiny Town, or is the joke on the thirty-five plus of us that pay 4 bucks to see it each year?
This past summer was the first summer my kids saw Tiny Town. Warren was in heaven. He was snapping pictures left and right. The adults giggled along, as did Mr. Moshinskie's son who led our tour and told us several times, "you know, y'all aren't all right". Amen Mr. Moshinskie. I wish there were new stars on the Tiny Town walk of fame, but there's some more right about it being people my kids have NEVER heard of.
In case you don't get a chance to go to Hot Springs, Arkansas in your lifetime, everyone should see Tiny Town for his/herself if at all possible. And if you want some of the best tour guides of Hot Springs, just go with my family. A core group of them goes every year, the same week. They'll show you around themselves.
We needed to do a separate post for an interesting attraction in Hot Springs, AR. It's called Tiny Town, and it's worth seeing.
Tiny Town is the work of Frank and Louise Moshinskie, now deceased. His sons and daughter-in-law operate the attraction. Wanting a hobby after he came home from WWII, Mr. Moshinskie set up his train sets and began building miniature villages and scenes around them. He also animated the scenes with recycled motors from washing machines and lawn mowers, etc. Children see-saw and swing in the park, the ferris wheel carries passengers, the gunfighters shoot it out in the Old West, dancers spin in a barn dance, a farmer on a tractor plows his field, and many more. Trains run everywhere - and you get to run them yourself! We loved every minute of it!
In addition, Mr. T, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and other stars promenade in the park. Most things were handcarved or made from cans, caps, just about anything you can think of. The more you look, the more you see!
We really enjoyed our tour, especially when Mrs. Moshinskie who made it nighttime! Lights from cabins glowed, and the lighthouse beacon shined brightly over the water! Along the way, there are buttons to push to run the trains and start the animations.