Skip to main content

Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike Tunnels in the early 1980s

During the Fall of 1981 and the Summer of 1982, Bill Symons explored the three former single tube tunnels of the Pennsylvania Turnpike System.  At that time, the tunnels - Laurel Hill, Ray's Hill, and Sideling Hill - had been abandoned for over 10 years.  Since then, these three once busy passageways have been explored by many Turnpike, road, adventure, and outdoor enthusiasts.  What is unique about these photos from 35 years ago is that many of the original artifacts (lettering and lane stripping) still existed at the entrances to the three tunnels.  With the widespread popularity of abandoned Turnpike exploration, these photos capture the exterior of the abandoned tunnels closer to their operable form than they are today.

I am pleased to share with you Bill's photos as part of the blog's Pennsylvania Turnpike Collection.  These photos show the abandoned tunnels and roadways of the PA Turnpike with 35 years less of decay and vandalism.  But at the same time, it is truly amazing that after nearly 50 years of quiet abandonment that these small forgotten ribbons of highway have kept a remarkable form that serves as a living history of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Laurel Hill Tunnel:
Bypassed in 1964, the Laurel Hill Tunnel, located in Westmoreland County, was the first tunnel to be bypassed on the turnpike system.  Of the three abandoned turnpike tunnels, the Laurel Hill Tunnel is the forgotten one.  Located in remote southeastern Westmoreland County, the tunnel stood proud among overgrowth and fill when Bill visited the location in the Fall of 1981 and in the Summer of 1982.

Laurel Hill's west portal in the fall of 1981.  Asphalt fill blocked the westbound lane and the entrance to the tunnel.  'Laurel Hill' still stands at the tunnel's entrance. (Bill Symons)

Entrance to the eastern portal of the Laurel Hill Tunnel, Summer 1982.  This is an excellent example of how narrow the roadway becomes upon entering the tunnel.  Also of note is the concrete retaining wall running to the entrance. (Bill Symons)
Ray's Hill Tunnel:
Ray's Hill Tunnel along with nearby Sideling Hill Tunnel was bypassed in 1968.  The turnpike opened 13 miles of new tunnel less roadway on October 30th of that year.  The tunnel's length was relatively short at 2,532 feet.  Because of its short length, Ray's Hill was the only tunnel built with one set of exhaust fans.  The eastern portal was erected of stone and concrete but minus the exhaust fans that existed on the western end. 

Looking west and exiting the tunnel, Fall 1981.  Thirteen years dormant, the abandoned roadway is cracked and full of overgrowth. (Bill Symons)

The narrowing lanes of the westbound Turnpike approaching the western portal of Ray's Hill Tunnel. (Bill Symons)

Entrance to the western portal of Ray's Hill Tunnel.  By 1999, the letters were gone. (Bill Symons)
Looking east from the eastern portal of Ray's Hill Tunnel.  Ray's Hill Tunnel was only 2,532 in length and the light at the end of this short tunnel can be seen. (Bill Symons)
A side perspective of the exhaust fan less eastern portal of the tunnel.  Some of the letters had fallen off their mounts. (Bill Symons)
The former PA Turnpike exiting the eastern portal of the tunnel as viewed from the top of Ray's Hill. (Bill Symons)

Sideling Hill Tunnel:
The Sideling Hill Tunnel is the longest of the three abandoned tunnels at 6,782 feet.  It was also bypassed in 1968. 

The very narrow entrance to the eastern Sideling Hill tunnel portal, Summer 1982. (Bill Symons)
Exiting east of the Sideling Hill Tunnel and curving towards a reunion with the modern-day Turnpike. (Bill Symons)

Site Navigation:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Interstate 40 and the H-Bomb

Interstate 40 within California is entirely contained to San Bernandio County over a course of 155 miles from Interstate 15 in Barstow east to the Arizona State Line at the Colorado River.  Interstate 40 is aligned entirely in the Mojave Desert over the same general corridor established by US Route 66 and the National Old Trails Road.   Interstate 40 is known as the Needles Freeway and has an interesting backstory which included the prospect of the Bristol Mountains being excavated by way of nuclear blasts as part of Operation Carryall.   Part 1; the history of Interstate 40 in California The focus on this blog will be primarily centered around the construction of Interstate 40 ("I-40") within California.  That being said the corridor of automotive travel east of Barstow to the Arizona State Line was largely pioneered by the National Old Trails Road ("NOTR")   In April of 1912 the NOTR was organized with the goal of signing a trans-continental highway between Baltim

California State Route 232

This past month I drove the entirety of California State Route 232 in Ventura County. CA 232 is an approximately 4 miles State Highway aligned on Vineland Avenye which begins near Saticoy at CA 118 and traverses southwest to US Route 101 in Oxnard.  The alignment of CA 232 was first adopted into the State Highway System in 1933 as Legislative Route Number 154 according to CAhighways.org. CAhighways.org on LRN 154 As originally defined LRN 154 was aligned from LRN 9 (future CA 118) southwest to LRN 2/US 101 in El Rio.  This configuration of LRN 154 between CA 118/LRN 9 and US 101/LRN 2 can be seen on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Ventura County. 1935 Ventura County Highway Map According to CAhighways.org the route of LRN 154 was extended west from US 101/LRN 2 to US 101A/LRN 60 in 1951.  Unfortunately State Highway Maps do not show this extension due to it being extremely small. During the 1964 State Highway Renumbering LRN 154 was assigned CA 232.  Of n

California State Route 128

California State Route 128 is a 121 mile State Highway which spans from California State Route 1 at the mouth Navarro River eastward to Interstate 505 near Winters.  California State Route 128 is one of California's most underrated scenic State Highways which traverses; Mendocino County, Solano County, Napa County and Yolo County.  Presently California State Route 128 has 11 unconstructed miles which would connect it from Interstate 505 east to California State Route 113 in Davis.   Part 1; the history of the original California State Route 28 and California State Route 128 What became California State Route 128 ("CA 128") was announced in the   August 1934 California Highways & Public Works  as the original CA 28.    CA 28 in it's original definition was aligned from CA 1 near Albion east to US 40 near Davis.   CA 28 as originally defined was comprised of numerous Legislative Route Numbers ("LRN") which were adopted as follows: -  LRN 1  between McDona