this has been on my almost-bucket list for months now, ever since i randomly stumbled across this gem while googling abandoned pennsylvania (since, you know, i usually have weekends free if i’m here for work and i’m a freak in heat, a dog without warning for abandoned things).
but yeah. ever wonder what happens when a freeway outgrows its usefulness? apparently sometimes they just build a whole new one, leaving the old one to rot. (luckily this one has a conservation effort behind it, so visit it now while it’s all abandoned and creepy!) the wikipedia article is excellent (and perfect to have your phone read to you while you’re driving there) in terms of history and present-day use.
about an hour southwest of harrisburg lies a stretch of abandoned turnpike, along with a couple of tunnels, ready to be conquered. there are several sites that describe the turnpike nowadays, but none better than floor9.com. i used the november 2009 entry as my reference for this trip.
the best part about all this is that the abandoned turnpike is pretty much legal to explore (the main stretch of it), which is why i’m not holding back any details. i’m not sure if i have the semantics right (officially it’s closed to the public, but you’re allowed access at your own risk?), but suffice it to say, you shouldn’t be bothered as long as you are on foot or biking (no motorized vehicles).
here is my cheat sheet with the coordinates i plugged into my GPS. after you pay the toll exiting the turnpike, continue until you get dumped out at route 30 (quite a ways). turn right, drive into the hills a bit, and keep and eye out for route 915 (aka valley hi road). note that “route 915” is indeed a gravel road on the left (paved on the right, but you want to turn left onto the unpaved part.) pass under a bridge and turn right at the intersection, oregon road (i believe it could be marked as oregon drive, but same thing). it’s quite a drive down to the parking area that i’ve chosen, but take it slow and the gravel shouldn’t cause too much damage to your car 😛
floor9 described the parking area as a clearing three years ago, but now it is the home (literally?) to a ranger or some sort of forest official. there is some parking in front to the side of a gate that gives you permission to cross as long as you are not in a motorized vehicle. (for the record, i did not see any other humans during the time i spent there.)
i estimate i made it maybe 200 feet(?) into the bore (there was an upside-down metal lampshade at the point where i turned back, twice). every time i wanted to go further i swear i heard a sound in the distance and i hightailed it out of there!
i will for sure be going back, next time armed with headphones (so i can’t psych myself out and to drown out any errant noises from the end of the tunnel) and a bright lantern! i didn’t want to leave, as a matter of fact. i just wanted to sit there in the cool air (from the tunnel and the impending thunderstorm) reveling in the abandonedness of it all. (and yes, that’s something i can revel in.)
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