Pennsylvania has no shortage of abandoned places. Ghost towns, coal breakers and other signs of progress come and gone still remain, empty and crumbling, and many find them fascinating. Most abandoned places in PA are private property and illegal to visit, but a few have become public parks, so anyone interested in modern ruins can satisfy their curiosity.
About the site: A few houses. A municipal building. A centennial vault. A 46-year-old coal mine fire. The world’s best-known mine fire, actually, which forced most of its citizens to relocate in the 1980s. Nowadays, Centralia’s streets are mostly empty, and the vacant lots are overgrown. Walk up the closed portion of Rt. 61, and see what a mine fire can do to asphalt. Stroll the crumbling brick sidewalks. It’s unreal.
What to bring: A camera. You probably won’t need much else.
Photos and info
About the site: Over a dozen double homes, entirely concrete, stand among culm piles and creeping weeds. It may be the saddest-looking historical site in Pennsylvania: Vandals have covered the buildings with tags, and paintballs and trash are scattered throughout. Still, it’s a fascinating look at a novel, if unwise, choice for building material, and for their age, the houses are in pretty good shape (except for the one that’s missing its second floor).
What to bring: Camera, bug spray, long sleeves, long pants, and a hat. Lots of weeds means lots of bugs.
Photos and info
The Abandoned PA Turnpike
About the site: Ten miles of crumbling turnpike and two tunnels that were rerouted in 1968. Forty years without maintenance (about normal for PennDOT) have eroded the pavement into rocks and kitty litter. The tunnels are especially interesting and make up about two miles of the abandoned turnpike.
What to bring: Bug spray, a camera, and a bike if you want to see the entire abandoned stretch of the turnpike.
About the site: There are dozens of concrete and stone buildings in varying states of decay. It’s largely unknown to PA urbexers, so bonus points for visiting this one. Whitehall township bought the land and incorporated it into the Ironton Rail Trail, so an otherwise imposing site is actually quite relaxing and satisfying to visit. Joggers and bikers are usually out in force — even in January — so it’s not a terribly lonely abandonment.
What to bring: A camera, bug spray, and a bike if you have one.
It’s not Amish buggies and Liberty Bells; this is the side of Pennsylvania that few will ever get to see. If you live in PA, or are just visiting, these sites shouldn’t be missed.