The Abandoned Turnpike - Pennsylvania / by sam taylor

sideling hill tunnel - pennsylvania

Good Tuesday Morning!

We love traveling to historic and abandoned places.  We've done full write ups on lost ranches and civilizations (The Die Back), abandoned railroads (Adventure in the Gauley Canyon) and decaying factory towns (The Lost Town of Hammond).   Because of this, sometimes we have our readers send us ideas, and sometimes we find things on our own.  Today's post is a bit of both.  

After the Hammond piece, I received some comments about the "abandoned turnpike" in Pennsylvania.  I did enough homework to know, generally, where it was, but we didn't travel in that direction very often, and it got pushed back on the stack.  A few weeks ago, we had an event in the Eastern Panhandle of WV, and it seemed like the right time. 

The Pennsylvania Turnpike opened in 1940, and was meant to help connect the mountainous central part of Pennsylvania to the east and west, using a right of way and several tunnels that were originally bored for an uncompleted railroad in the 1880s.  The highway was successful - too successful.  By the late 1950s there would be traffic jams at the tunnels - where the road necked down from 4-lanes to just 2, and the state started working to widen the road.  After looking at the designs and costs, it became cheaper to bypass two tunnels, the Rays Hill Tunnel and Sideling Hill Tunnel.  Once this happened, a 13-mile section of turnpike became abandoned in the rural Pennsylvania mountains. 

I always feel a bit sad and confused when we find things like this - to think that there were people that devoted their lives to building and maintaining things like this, and now they are left to the elements. 

Regardless, it was a very cool - and surreal - detour into Pennsylvania.  For a bit of context, the photo in the advertisement below is of this same spot - the entrance to the Sideling Hill Tunnel, from 1959.


You can find a map for the parking area for the Sideling Hill Tunnel section here.

Talk to y'all on Friday.

The Abandoned Turnpike - Pennsylvania