For my final project in Illustration Class, I decided to jam together two of my great loves: weird roadside attractions and diners. Having been on many a roadtrip, I am quite familiar with the diner placemat – made of paper and covered with advertisements from dubious establishments. I always mean to save them for nostalgia purposes, but by the time breakfast is over, they are invariably covered with coffee and syrup. Here are some that inspired my own placemat:

Placemat Advertising | Miracle Mats Official Site
Vintage Placemats | Diner menu, Growing up, Blue ball
1950's Paxton Diner Restaurant Placemat Harrisburg Pennsylvania PA | eBay

I also love weird roadside attractions and being from Pennsylvania, there is a plethora of sites across the state. So I decided to found an attraction on one of the scenic spots near where I grew up: Wopsy Mountain. Wopsononock Mountain is a vista that overlooks the city of Altoona. My family and I used to visit it when I was a kid and I thought it was just a broken mountain but I discovered so much more when I started to research.

Discovery PA: The White Lady of Wopsy
The view of Altoona from Wopsy Mountain

I discovered that there was a hotel, an overlook ‘tower’, and a train that conveyed passengers up the mountain from Juniata, a suburb of Altoona. Funnily enough, my dad worked for the railroad out of the Juniata Shops.

Exploring Wopsy: Trains to the top of the mountain ran for three decades |  News, Sports, Jobs - Altoona Mirror
Wopsy Lookout | Railroad pictures, Altoona, Old pictures
May 31, 1913 Locomotive #5 | Locomotive, Altoona, Hotels and resorts

Here is the final product. It was interesting to design not only the Wopsy Mystery Spot, but also the rest of the ads that decorate a diner placemat, especially ones that reference actual (but no longer there) localities.