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

Establishing the numbering conventions of California's chargeable Interstates

The Federal Highway Aid Act of 1956 brought the Interstate Highway System into existence which would largely be constructed by Federal Highway Administration fund matching.  The Interstate Highway System was deliberately numbered to run opposite the established conventions of the US Route System.  While the Interstate Highway numbering conventions are now well established there was a period during the late 1950s where they were still being finalized.  This blog examines the history of the establishing of the chargeable Interstate Highway route numbers in California.  The above blog cover depicts the Interstate Highway route numbers requested by the Division of Highways in the Los Angeles area during November 1957.  The establishment of the numbering conventions of California's chargeable Interstates The Interstate Highway System was not created in a vacuum by way of the passage of the 1956 Federal Highway Aid Act.  The beginning of the Interstate Highway System can be found in the

Legend of the Ridge Route; a history of crossing the mountains between the Los Angeles Basin and San Joaquin Valley from wagon trails to Interstates

Over the past two decades I've crossed the Interstate 5 corridor from Los Angeles north over the Sierra Pelona Mountains and Tehachapi Range to San Joaquin Valley what seems to be an immeasurable number of times.  While Interstate 5 from Castaic Junction to Grapevine via Tejon Pass today is known to most as "The Grapevine" it occupies a corridor which has been traversed by numerous historic highways.  The most notable of these highways is known as the "Ridge Route."  This article is dedicated to the Ridge Route and the various highways that preceded it.  This blog is part of the larger Gribblenation US Route 99 Page.  For more information pertaining to the other various segments of US Route 99 and it's three-digit child routes check out the link the below. Gribblenation US Route 99 Page Ridge Route corridor introdution The Ridge Route as originally envisioned was a segment of highway which was completed in 1915 between the northern Los Angeles city limit

The western end of US Route 6 and Laws Depot on the Carson & Colorado Railway

Back in June of 2016 I visited the western terminus of US Route 6 at US Route 395 located in Bishop, California of Inyo County on my way to Laws Depot. US 6 is one of the longest US Routes at 3,205 miles between Bishop, CA east to Provincetown, MA.  Historically US 6 was the longest US Route ever when it ended in Long Beach at 3,652 miles.  US 6 is known as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway and is mostly known for traveling through some of the most rural corners of the Continental United States. The endpoint of US 6 expanded wildly westward during the early US Route era.  Below is a summary of endpoints for US 6 that are listed on USends.com: 1927-1931 -  Provincetown, MA west to Erie, PA 1932-1937 -  Provincetown, MA west to Greeley, CO 1937-1964 -  Provincetown, MA west to Long Beach, CA 1964-Present -  Provincetown, MA west to Bishop, CA US 6 was one of the routes heavily truncated during the 1964 California Highway Renumbering.  US 6 had a large mul