Waterbury is the fifth-largest city in Connecticut and is often called the “Brass City,” an homage to its centuries-old roots as a producer of the alloy. It is the birthplace of the founder of the Knights of Columbus, the original Mickey Mouse watch, and Timex. The city is also home to Holy Land USA, a defunct interactive Bible scene set across eighteen acres in the center of town. For the last sixty years its lighted “Peace Cross” on top of the mountain has stood as a beacon for Waterbury and I-84 motorists.
Construction of the attraction began in 1957, the work of a devout Catholic lawyer with help from an army of volunteers. During the 1960s and 70s the 200-piece Holy Land USA was a popular attraction, drawing 40,000 visitors per year at its peak. When its founder and chief caretaker became frail in the 1980s, so did the park. It was closed in 1984 and left in the hands of under-equipped nuns, who for the next thirty years watched over the site as its features became overgrown and vandals hastened its demise.