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The Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike

Traveling the PA Turnpike eastbound or westbound, one would never know that not too far away lies an abandoned section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  Left to erode away in the 1960's, this road could no longer live up to todays PennDot expectations.  The abandoned section is about 10 miles long, and stretches between Breezewood, Pa and the current Sideling Hill service plaza along the turnpike.  The roadway is a classic four lane highway, containing two tunnels, in which the highway narrows to two lanes just outside and through each.  The westernmost tunnel passes through Breezewood mountain, and is approximately 3/4 mile long.  The current turnpike instead piggybacks this mountain and passes over it.  At about mile 8 of the highway is the Sideling Hill Tunnel, the longest of the two tunnels, at about 10,000 feet.  This tunnel passes through Sideling Hill mountain, in which the current route passes over.  In this picture, at the top of the tunnel, you can see the air vents.  You can actually go inside the tunnel walls and explore the dozens of rooms (bring a flashlight), and even walk in the plenum (between the top of the tunnel and the mountain).  Even after being unmaintained for 40 years, the tunnels and the road itself remain in remarkable shape.  Inside the tunnels the temperature drops dramatically.  It was 70 degrees outside the tunnels, but inside the tunnels was a stiff breeze of 40 degree air.  The round trip ride is 20 miles, so bring food and water.  Be sure to explore this truly amazing piece of history, before it's gone.

 

The Breezewood end of the abandoned roadway Entrance to the westernmost tunnel

A section of the road  Turbines inside the Breezewood tunnel

 Western entrance to the Sideling Hill tunnel Eastern entrance to the Sideling Hill Tunnel

PennDot still uses the road for line testing Sudeling Hill end of the Abandoned Turnpike

The old Sideling Hill service plaza

 This is what it looks like inside the Sideling Hill tunnel, approaching the exit

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