Urban exploration seems to be a pretty big thing these days.
You probably know the drill – break into some abandoned factory, hospital, etc. and see what types of archaic technology have been left behind from olden times. Or maybe just look for copper. Of course, I can’t condone this hobby. Meandering through dilapidated structures isn’t particularly safe, it’s generally considered trespassing, and endorsing flagrant disregard for the law and personal safety is just not how I roll.
Fortunately, the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike is quite safe and legal, though not the easiest place to get to. Abandoned turnpike – sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? Well it’s exactly what it sounds like. In southern Pennsylvania, there is a section of unused highway that’s gone unmaintained for the past fifty years, just begging to be explored. Oh, and did I mention that there are tunnels?
Ok, so a little background here: The Pennsylvania Turnpike was originally opened to vehicular traffic in 1940 as a means to significantly decrease travel time between the populous metropolitan areas of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Per the original plan, seven tunnels were built (or repurposed) to guide traffic through the rugged Appalachian Mountains running through the middle of the state. However, as automobile usage continued to increase, the turnpike soon began to see more traffic than was ever expected, and by the late 50’s was a congested mess – especially around those tunnels, which only accommodated one lane in each direction.
Something had to be done, but with three of the tunnels deemed too impractical to widen, the powers that be in Harrisburg decided to simply construct a new route through the trouble spot. So, in 1968, 13 miles of the original highway were bypassed and left to decay.
Nowadays, you can walk, bike, roller skate or Segway along the majority of that section, though cars are prohibited. It’s not easy to get to though, and cars are absolutely prohibited. Still, if you’re ever near the popular stopover / mini-Gatlinburg of Breezewood, PA, and know where to look, there is an unmarked point of access with very limited parking. A few words of caution from the No Shit Sherlock Files: The surface is bad. It’s overgrown and full of as many potholes as you can imagine fifty Pennsylvania winters might make. Also, those tunnels are dark. One is over a mile in length, so you’ll want to bring a very good flashlight.
Oh, and there’s no copper to be harvested, so if that’s your game, stick to the old auto plant. But you didn’t hear that from me.