Explore the past: 10 abandoned places in Pennsylvania you can legally visit

Great Allegheny Passage, Savage Tunnel

Great Allegheny Passage, Savage Tunnel (Photo: Shutterstock)

By Ashley Adams

May 10, 2023

Pennsylvania is home to abandoned bunkers, paper mills, and roadways that represent the state’s rich history and can be explored by all.

Hidden throughout Pennsylvania are numerous abandoned places that serve as testaments to a bygone time. While some of these locations are on private property and illegal to visit, there are others that are just waiting for you to come and explore.

These sites were abandoned for one reason or another—natural disaster, changing of the times, or too expensive—and are now becoming a part of the landscape of the state.

Abandoned PA Turnpike, Bedford and Fulton counties

The Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike is the name used for a 13-mile stretch of roadway that was bypassed in 1968 when a more modern stretch opened to ease traffic congestion in the turnpike tunnels.

Technically, the abandoned turnpike is officially closed to visitors. However, the language on the signs at the entrance lets you know that it’s not a no trespassing area, simply an area where you proceed at your own risk.

There are two tunnels to walk through, but be sure to bring a good flashlight. And make sure to give a shout once in the tunnels. The echoes alone are worth the trip.

Concrete City, Nanticoke

Concrete City is located in an overgrown, city-owned plot of land on the outskirts of Nanticoke. It features 20, two-story duplexes that were made entirely out of concrete in the early 1900s as company housing for the Truesdale Colliery. At the time, it was considered to be a “community of the future.”

But a mere 11 years after the first resident moved in it was abandoned because the cost to put in a septic system was too much.

Now the city stands abandoned, covered in graffiti and crumbling away, no longer the community of the future, just a reminder of the past.

Alvira Munitions Bunkers, Allenwood

The abandoned Alvira Munitions Bunkers are remnants of the World War II era. Originally founded as Wisetown in 1825, the federal government used eminent domain to force out the residents and level the entire town to turn the area into a TNT manufacturing plant and storage facility known as the Pennsylvania Ordnance Works. It closed due to lack of need only 11 months later.

Today, the 149 dome-shaped concrete bunkers that once housed explosives for the US military are abandoned and are part of state game lands.

10 abandoned places in Pennsylvania you can legally visit
(Photo: Shutterstock)

Bayless Paper Mill, Austin

The abandoned Bayless Paper Mill will forever be synonymous with the state’s second deadliest flood. The Austin Dam flood in 1911 destroyed the paper mill and most of the nearby town of Austin.

Today, this site is part of a planned 329-acre park and visitor center dedicated to telling the story of the paper mill, the dam, and the flood that killed 78 people.

Nuclear Jet Engine Testing Bunkers, Cameron County

Constructed and used between 1955-1960, the abandoned nuclear jet engine testing bunkers are a Cold War-era remnant of the state’s history. Once used to conduct tests to develop nuclear-powered jet engines for the US Air Force, the site was abandoned when the federal program was canceled.

All that remains today are the bunkers themselves—large boxes of concrete and steel with tiny slit windows once covered by thick layers of blast-resistant glass.

Dinkey Shed, Mill Creek

The Dinkey Shed was built in 1938 as a maintenance facility for the dinkey trains that pulled rail cars of sandstone from the nearby quarry. It was in use until the quarry closed in 1952.

Now, the abandoned shed has been incorporated into the 1000 Steps, which is part of the Standing Stone Trail, a popular hike in Huntingdon County.

Blair Lime Kilns, Hollidaysburg

Once a thriving limestone-processing facility that operated around the clock in Blair County, today the abandoned Blair Lime Kilns are part of Canoe Creek State Park.

Built to supply lime to the steel mills in Pittsburgh, the site was abandoned once the limestone was exhausted.

The remnants of the once prosperous facility can still be explored today.

Kinzua Viaduct, McKean County

The Kinzua Viaduct was once the longest and tallest railway bridge in the entire world until a tornado destroyed much of it in 2003. It stood 301 feet tall and was 2,053 feet long when initially completed in 1882.

Owned by the state, the cost to rebuild the viaduct was deemed too expensive, so the 600 feet of bridge that still stood was repurposed into the Kinzua Skywalk.

Get there soon though. The skywalk and Kinzua Creek Trail will be closed starting Nov. 19 for a maintenance project that is expected to last until fall 2027.

Big Savage Tunnel, Meyersdale

The Big Savage Tunnel is an abandoned railroad tunnel that is currently part of the Great Allegheny Passage Rail Trail. Once a critical link in a rail line connecting Pennsylvania to Maryland, the more than 3,200-foot-long tunnel was abandoned in 1975.

The tunnel was restored in the late 1990s, and today you can enjoy a safe and interesting hike through the entire length of the tunnel.

Rockland Tunnel, Kennerdell

Opened in 1916, the Rockland Tunnel was constructed by the Pennsylvania Railroad to transport oil out of the region.

The nearly 3,000-foot-long tunnel is now part of the Allegheny River Rail Trail. You can hike or bike through the unlit expanse, but it’s very dark so make sure to take a flashlight with you.

NOTE: While at the time of publication, and to the best of our knowledge, these abandoned places were legal to visit, access can always change. Obey all signs present at the sites.

Many of these sites are not maintained and continue to deteriorate over time. Be careful and visit at your own risk.

Author

  • Ashley Adams

    In her 16 years in the communications industry, Ashley Adams has worn many hats, including news reporter, public relations writer, marketing specialist, copy editor and technical writer. Ashley grew up in Berks County and has since returned to her roots to raise her three children.

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