Over an embankment at the intersection of Tannery Road and the Lincoln Highway in Breezewood, Pa. is a nearly nine mile stretch of abandon highway that served as the a part of the Pennsylvania Turnpike from 1940 though 1968.
The stretch contains two tunnels, Sideling Hill and Ray’s Hill, the 14th and 47th longest tunnels in the United States according to Lotsberg, The World’s Longest Tunnel List. It is also the only known abandoned superhighway in America as touted by the Pike 2 Bike organization that oversees the trail.
The roadway remains intact in places, but is crumbling badly in others. No identifying markings remain that would indicate that the roadway was once the Turnpike. The remote nature of the roadway provides a surreal experience, allowing a bike rider to experience a futuristic view of what the world may look like after superhighways are no longer useful. Photographically speaking there are two or three vistas that provide nice glimpses incorporating the abandon roadway and tunnels into the surrounding landscape.
Evidence remains that the highway had a use as a proving ground after it was closed in 1968. Rumble strips, paint and reflectors appear in random intervals near the Tannery Road trail head. Otherwise, plants, trees and the forest are slowly over taking the roadway, adding to the deterioration. The tunnel control rooms are open but otherwise are a royal mess filled with mud, water and litter.
The ride is very easy and can be done with children. My son was fascinated by the tunnels. There are no extreme grades or hills. The most challenging portion of the ride is ensuring that you have enough light to see through the darkened tunnels. At Ray’s Hill the opposite ends of the tunnel can be seen from either portal. At Sideling Hill you must enter the tunnel blind. The tunnel arcs from one end to the other and crowns in the middle meaning the opposite ends of the tunnel cannot be seen from the portals. You must ride a significant portion into the tunnel to see the opposing portal. A light is an absolute necessity.
A word of caution, vandals have left their mark near the western portal of the Ray’s Hill Tunnel. Normally, the content of graffiti does not bother me. I do find it childish to deface public structures, however, what I found is truly disappointing and cowardly. There is serious racist and anti-Semitic graffiti marring the walls and roadway near the western portal of the tunnel. On this particular day I had my three-year old son with me. I am thankful that he can’t read yet. I really didn’t want to have the conversation with him about what all of those words and symbols mean.