Hidden in the quiet eastern Iowa town of Gladbrook, Iowa sits 'Matchstick Marvels'. It's an amazing display of very detailed models made entire with matchsticks. It's definitely worth the drive.

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The mastermind behind it all is artist Pat Acton. His work is simply amazing. It even caught the eye of 'Ripley's... Believe it or Not'. Acton now is contracted out by Ripley's, and he is able to work full time as an artist.

"I tell people, of all things, matchsticks would take you on a journey," artist Pat Acton shared. "But it's allowed me to travel worldwide."

The massive size of some of the models will certainly catch your eye, but it's his attention to detail that has makes his work so popular. You can get lost looking at the sheer beauty fairly easy, and you will have to constantly remind yourself that they are made entirely of matchsticks and glue.

The largest display at Matchstick Marvels, and my favorite from my visit, was the United States Capitol Building. It's comprised of 478,000 matchsticks, 10 gallons of carpenter's glue, and well over 2,000 hours to construct. The massive model measures 12 feet in length and 5.5 feet tall.

"In 1993, they bought about 10 of my models," Acton remembered about his agreement with Ripley's. "They've done a major expending in the last few years, and they were looking for more product. It allowed me to do what I love. The only bad part about it is I have to give them up (laugh)."

Acton said he plans to continue his agreement with Ripley's for a few more years. Then he hopes to make some new models for the museum in Gladbrook.

This Fall he will begin working for Ripley's on a model with a Star Wars theme, the Millennium Falcon.

"If you come to Matchstick Marvels, you will see a lot of buildings and machines," Acton said proudly. "I've always been very interested in architecture and machines of almost any type.

"I very much an American history nut, so through the years, I've made a lot of ships, planes, and things that have to do with our armed forces."

I spent two hours there, but I could have spent a few more just admiring the detail and the passion behind Acton's craft.

Matchstick Marvels (web) is located at 319 2nd Street; Gladbrook, Iowa (50635). The museum is open April 1 through November 30  1:00 PM to 5:00 PM 7 days a week, and they are handicap accessible. Adult admission is only $5.00, $3.00 for kids 5-12, and 5 & under free.