Skip to main content

An end of a simpler time - Steps to the Church on the PA Turnpike to be removed

The nearly 70-year old Pennsylvania Turnpike has many quirks that you can't find on a modern freeway today. Large motorist pulloffs, numerous tunnels, a service plaza with a tunnel underneath the highway are some of the unique features that add to the Turnpike's lure. However, one unique piece that has been a special spiritual gem for many motorists will soon be removed.

The two sets of steps that allow motorists to access St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in New Baltimore will be removed by 2009 in a Turnpike upgrading and widening project.

The steps to the church were part of what is now believed to be a verbal agreement between the Church and the Turnpike in the late 1930s. In exchange for church land, the Turnpike built two sets of stairs -- one on each side of the highway -- to allow motorists access to the Church. For over 65 years, countless travelers -- including myself -- have stopped for mass or just to look around out of curiosity.

For more: Johnstown (PA) Tribune Democrat, "Turnpike changes bring end to church steps."
Holy Turnpike! - A photo essay on St. John's the Baptist Catholic Church has photos I and others have taken from visits there.

Commentary:

This is a bittersweet loss for the Turnpike. As a result of making much needed upgraded and widening to the highway, one of the most unique and to many people extremely special features of the turnpike will be lost. Over the course of the six years that I have had a feature on St. John's Church, I have received numerous e-mails of people asking about when masses are or sharing stories of their experiences of the church. I was lead to this story from a visitor's e-mail.

Many are upset by the upcoming loss of access to the Church. Sadly, it is necessary for safety of motorists and those who have parked their cars there. Although, there have not been any - to my knowledge - accidents because of vehicles pulled over to visit the Church, a number of years ago a deadly accident at another motorist pull-off caused closure of nearly half of the pull off areas.

Are there any compromises? I doubt it. The only one that can be possible is that the Turnpike build an interchange at New Baltimore. New Baltimore sits nearly in the middle of a 36 mile stretch between the Bedford and Somerset exits. An interchange would break up the lengthy 36 mile distance between interchanges, allow the village of New Baltimore access to the Turnpike, and motorists access to the Church.

I'd like to thank the visitor's to my feature on the Church for scooping me onto this story. I plan to learn more about it and keep you all informed.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Old NY 10 and Goodman Mountain in the Adirondacks

  Old highway alignments come in all shapes and sizes, as well as taking some different forms after their lifespan of serving cars and trucks has ended. In the case of an old alignment of what was NY 10 south of Tupper Lake, New York, part of the old road was turned into part of a hiking trail to go up Goodman Mountain. At one time, the road passed by Goodman Mountain to the east, or Litchfield Mountain as it was known at the time. As the years passed, sometime around 1960, the part of NY 10 north of Speculator became part of NY 30, and remains that way today from Speculator, past Indian Lake and Tupper Lake and up to the Canadian Border. At one time, the highway was realigned to pass the Goodman Mountain to the west, leaving this stretch of road to be mostly forgotten and to be reclaimed by nature. During the summer of 2014, a 1.6 mile long hiking trail was approved the Adirondack Park Agency to be constructed to the summit of the 2,176 foot high Goodman Mountain. For the first 0.9 mi

Oregon State Highway 58

  Also known as the Willamette Highway No. 18, the route of Oregon State Highway 58 (OR 58) stretches some 86 miles between US 97 north of Chemult and I-5 just outside of Eugene, Oregon. A main route between the Willamette Valley region of Oregon with Central Oregon and Crater Lake National Park, the highway follows the Middle Fork Willamette River and Salt Creek for much of its route as it makes its way to and across the Cascades, cresting at 5,138 feet above sea level at Willamette Pass. That is a gain of over 4,500 in elevation from where the highway begins at I-5. The upper reaches of OR 58 are dominated by the principal pinnacle that can sometimes be seen from the highway, Diamond Peak, and three nearby lakes, Crescent, Odell and Waldo (Oregon's second largest lake). OR 58 is chock full of rivers, creeks, mountain views, hot springs and waterfalls within a short distance from the highway. OR 58 was numbered as such by the Oregon State Highway Department in 1940. OR 58 is a del

Siuslaw River Bridge - US 101 in Florence, Oregon

  As the Oregon Coast Highway (US 101) was being completed across the State of Oregon during the 1930s, a number of bridges needed to be built to cross some of the state's finest rivers. In Florence, Oregon , the Siuslaw River Bridge was designed and constructed to help fill in the gaps between different coastal communities. Built in 1936, the Siuslaw River Bridge is a bascule bridge flanked by two reinforced concrete arches that spans across the Siuslaw River. The bridge and the river get their names from the Siuslaw tribal people who make their home along the river valleys of this part of the Oregon Coast. Today, the bridge provides a vital link connecting US 101 and the Central Oregon Coast to points north and south. The total length of the Siuslaw River Bridge is 1,568 feet, stretching across the river. But more specifically, the bridge is made up of a north approach with eight spans of reinforced concrete deck girder totaling 478 feet in length. There is a main span in three