Tranquility and post-apocalyptic blight manage to co-exist along this stretch of cracked road and vandalized tunnels hidden in the middle of the Pennsylvania forest.
This long-forgotten interstate in the middle of the woods was once part of America’s first “superhighway.” The 13-mile section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike was abandoned in November of 1968, when a bypass was built over the mountains and the road suddenly became obsolete. The area has been closed to vehicles ever since, as nature slowly takes back the land.
In the ensuing years, trees have sprouted up from the pavement, water has formed small streams running through the two vehicle tunnels, and the whole area has developed an eerie quietude, as though all of the other humans had died off and the broken road was all that remained of society. The area is so evocative that major scenes from the movie adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s end-of-the-world novel “The Road” were filmed along, well, the road. The cannibalistic survivors in the film seem to have been born from the abandoned surroundings.
The empty tunnels along the path can be ridden through, but the equipment rooms, garages, and offices within are locked off and not available to visit without a guided tour. You can bring your bike and enjoy the whole road from end to abandoned end. The entire property was sold to The Southern Alleghenies Conservancy in 2001 with the intent of opening the old roadway as a bike trail for relaxing and reflecting. It is now in the process of being transferred to a joint authority that will own and run the trail. When this happens it will allow the trail to apply for grants to build trail heads, bathrooms, signage, make one lane smooth, and light the tunnels. In Sept of 2016, the PA Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources held a press conference and toured the trail for the purpose of moving the trail forward.