Skip to main content

Breezewood in the Fall....The Abandoned PA Turnpike

Editor's Note: Bernie Newman's Breezewood in the Fall was the first real feature that I had on my fledgling website in late 1999.  It was also one of the first online features about the abandoned turnpike and its tunnels.  From November 1999 to about 2003-04, I would receive numerous e-mails about the tunnels and accessing the old roadway as a result of Mr. Newman's work.  Today, there are numerous webpages and social media groups devoted to this abandoned stretch of highway.  

In 1968, The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission successfully completed a bypass of two tunnels - Sideling and Ray's Hill - one service plaza - Cove Valley - and nearly 13 miles of roadway.  Since then this forgotten section of road has been a destination point for turnpike enthusiasts, hikers and bicyclists, curiosity seekers, and the Turnpike Commission itself.  The abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike serves as a living history of the nearly 80 year old highway.  

The Breezewood Interchange incorporates a small segment of the old Turnpike alignment - serving as a connector route for Interstate 70 from the Turnpike to the Town of Motels.  It is just prior to the connector's interchange with US 30 that the abandoned section of the turnpike begins.

This where the former alignment of the PA Turnpike begins - just prior the ramps at the Breezewood Interchange (Bernie Newman)
The former ramps of the Breezewood Interchange.  Like nearly all turnpike interchanges, the original Breezewood interchange was of a trumpet design. (Bernie Newman)

What would have been the Breezewood interchange ramps going underneath the turnpike. (Bernie Newman) 

What was most likely the last of the original turnpike guardrail. (Bernie Newman)
Another view of the original interchange ramps and cement median from the former Turnpike overpass. (Bernie Newman)
Beyond the former Breezewood Interchange is 13 miles of the old turnpike.  In 2001, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission sold nearly all of the former alignment to the Southern Alleghenies Conservancy for $1.  THe Conservancy's goal was to convert the abandoned Turnpike into a bike trail.  However, in the over 15 years since that transaction there has been minimal progress towards that goal.  The Pike 2 Bike Trail is "unofficially" open and all users travel at their own risk.

Old turnpike bridge over US 30. The PTC actually painted the bridge in the 1980s, the bridge would be demolished in 2005. (Bernie Newman)
The bridge in the photo above once carried the abandoned turnpike over US 30.  The Turnpike Commission dismantled this bridge - along with a similar overpass at Pump Station Road - to eliminate the liability and expense in maintaining the two structures and also to restrict access to parts of the abandoned Turnpike still owned by the PTC.  As a result, an ad hoc parking lot off of nearby Tannery Rd. was built for trail access.

Looking East on the abandoned Turnpike towards Ray's Hill. (Bernie Newman)
The western portal of Ray's Hill Tunnel. When compared to Bill Symon's photo of this same entrance in 1981 - the 'RAYS HILL' lettering above the entrance is gone and graffiti is much more prevalent.  (Bernie Newman)
The short distance allows for you to see the "Light at the end of the tunnel".  I am guessing that the double yellow line in this photo was from a PTC paint test. (Bernie Newman)
Most likely an original streetlight near the western entrance of Ray's Hill Tunnel. (Bernie Newman)
Site Navigation:


Popular posts from this blog

Old US 101; the San Juan Grade

While researching maps for California State Route 183 I noticed something interesting on the 1935 County Highway maps for San Benito and Monterey County.  From what it appeared it seems that there used to be a state highway running from US 101 south on San Juan Highway, through San Juan Bautista, south over the San Juan Grade to Salinas.  It turns out what I discovered was an a very old alignment of US 101 which was replaced by 1932.

The information relevant to the history of US 101 over the San Juan Grade is as follows:

-  The San Juan Grade was built in 1915 which presumably replaced Old Stage Road from Salinas to San Juan Bautista.  Presumably this was part of alignment adopted as Legislative Route 2 from San Francisco south to San Diego in 1909.  This history can be seen on 1931 edition of the California Highways and Public Works Journal and on

1931 Highways and Public Works Journal

CAhighways on LRN 2

-  By 1926 the San Juan Grade became part of US 101.  The San Jua…

The Tioga Pass Road

Last Summer the Tioga Pass Road over the Sierras in Yosemite National Park opened late due to the heavy snow pack during the previous winter.  Approaching the start of July the Park Service finally had cleared Tioga Pass, I headed up shortly after the 4th of July holiday during a lull in the tourist season.

The Tioga Pass Road runs from the Big Oak Flat Road east to US Route 395.  The Tioga Pass road is largely within the boundary of Yosemite National Park but is also partially on California State Route 120 east of the Tioga Pass entry station to US 395.  The Park Service maintained portion of the Tioga Pass Road serve as a implied connection between the two segments of CA 120.  The Tioga Pass Road is the highest road mountain pass in California with Tioga Pass which lies at 9,945 feet above sea level.

The Tioga Pass Road is very old with the eastern section up Lee Vining Canyon to the Tioga Mine being built in 1883.  The connecting section of the Tioga Pass Road from Big Oak Flat R…

California State Route 49, The Golden Chain Highway (CA 16 north over Yuba Pass to CA 89)

After completing California State Route 124 I took CA 16 to the eastern terminus to start my first Trans-Sierra route; California State Route 49/Golden Chain Highway over Yuba Pass.

As stated I joined CA 49 from the eastern terminus of CA 16 in Amador County.  CA 49 actually begins in Madera County to the south in Oakhurst at CA 41.  CA 49 is about 295 miles long and travels most of the traditional 1849 Gold Rush Country north from Oakhurst to CA 70.  If you want history and old towns then CA 49 is one of the best routes on the West Coast to see both.

To the north of CA 16 the next major junction is Signed County Route E16 in Plymouth which is on Shenandoah Road.  E16 is a 33.2 mile route which travels northeast to US 50. 

Plymouth dates back to the 1850s and is mostly known for a winery that dates back to 1856.  These photos are from Main Street looking west.

CA 49 generally is very rural and doesn't deviate much from when it was first signed back in 1934.  While CA 49 isn'…