17 Abandoned Places in PA You Can Legally Explore

The western portal of Rays Hill Tunnel along the Abandoned PA Turnpike

Pennsylvania is home to a wide array of awesomely abandoned places you can legally explore!

Doorway to Alvira bunker number 2.
Doorway to abandoned Alvira Bunker Number 2 in Union County.

Some of these sites were abandoned due to technological shifts that left them obsolete.

Abandoned nuclear jet engine testing bunker entrance.
One of the abandoned nuclear jet engine testing bunkers in Cameron County.

Others were abandoned after natural disasters.

Freeman Run passing through the ruins of Austin Dam in Potter County PA.
Freeman Run passing through the ruins of Austin Dam in Potter County.

Some of them have been, in more recent times, repurposed for new uses.

The Salisbury Viaduct disappears into the Pennsylvania foothills near Meyersdale.
The Salisbury Viaduct disappears into the Pennsylvania foothills near Meyersdale.

But one thing all of them have in common is that the Earth is slowly reclaiming them, and one day they will all be but distant memories.

The muddy remains of Concrete City near Nanticoke.
The muddy remains of the abandoned Concrete City near Nanticoke.

But before they are gone, I’ll share with you a few of the more interesting abandoned places in Pennsylvania I have explored in recent years.

The ruins of Scotia are a popular destination for hikers and mountain bikers near State College.
The ghost town of Scotia is a popular destination for hikers and mountain bikers near State College.

All of these abandoned places in PA were legal to explore at the time I visited them – but that may not always be the case in the future, so please heed any “no trespassing” signs or the like should they pop up in the future.

For each destination below, be sure to click on the blue text link to view detailed directions and in-depth information about it.

The Rockland Tunnel along the Allegheny River Rail Trail in Venango County PA.
The Rockland Tunnel along the Allegheny River Rail Trail in Venango County PA.

Many of these properties are not maintained or monitored for safety conditions, and therefore these are all strictly VISIT AT YOUR OWN RISK DESTINATIONS!

By voluntarily exploring any of these locations, YOU assume the risk of any personal injury or damage to personal property, and shall not hold the author liable for any injuries, losses, or damages that may occur while visiting any of these locations.


1. The Abandoned PA Turnpike

Let’s start with the biggest, and some would say best, abandoned place in PA – the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike!

Approaching the western portal of the Sideling Hill Tunnel on the Abandoned PA Turnpike in September 2020.
Approaching the western portal of the Sideling Hill Tunnel on the Abandoned PA Turnpike in September 2020.

Thirteen miles of abandoned superhighway, last open to normal vehicle traffic in 1968.

A photographer illuminated by a spotlight inside the Sideling Hill Tunnel.
A photographer illuminated by a spotlight inside the Sideling Hill Tunnel.

The highlights of this abandoned superhighway are two tunnels, both roughly a mile long.

A group of hikers entering the Sideling Hill Tunnel.
A group of hikers entering the Sideling Hill Tunnel.

Today the Abandoned PA Turnpike is a non-maintained hiking/biking trail, but how long it remains a viable destination for those activities is anyone’s guess.

Bicycling the Sideling Hill Tunnel in September 2020.
Bicycling the Sideling Hill Tunnel in September 2020.

2. Concrete City

Concrete City lies tucked away in an overgrown, city-owned plot of land on the outskirts of Nanticoke, in Luzerne County.

4 of the 20 duplexes in Concrete City in Luzerne County.
4 of the 20 duplexes in Concrete City in Luzerne County.

At the time of its construction Concrete City was considered to be a “community of the future”, but it was abandoned a mere 11 years after the first residents moved in.

Living room of a duplex in Concrete City.
Living room of a duplex in Concrete City.

Despite occasional reports of efforts being made to preserve Concrete City for its historic merits, you’d be hard pressed to find any evidence of that when visiting today.

And due to the deteriorating condition of the buildings, it’s certainly possible that at some point Concrete City will simply become off-limits for liability reasons.

A burned-out truck resting on a road in Concrete City.
A burned-out truck resting on a road in Concrete City.

3. Abandoned Alvira Munitions Bunkers

The abandoned Alvira munitions bunkers are remnants of the American WWII war effort, as well as reminders of what lengths the federal government will go to to seize private property for “the greater good”.

Inside one of the abandoned Alvira bunkers.
One of the one hundred and forty-nine concrete bunkers at Alvira.

In the case of Alvira (originally founded as Wisetown in 1825), the federal government used the courts and eminent domain to force residents to accept buyouts of their homes, so that their entire town could be leveled and turned into a TNT manufacturing plant and storage facility known as the Pennsylvania Ordnance Works.

Doorway to Alvira bunker number 5.
Doorway to Alvira bunker number 5.

Today, the Alvira bunkers, as well as remnants of Wisetown, are located in the Union County portion of State Game Lands 252, approximately 7 miles south of Williamsport.

View from the back of one of the abandoned Alvira bunkers.
View from the back of one of the abandoned Alvira bunkers.

4. The Abandoned Bayless Paper Mill

The abandoned Bayless Paper Mill will be forever linked to Pennsylvania’s second-deadliest flood on record, the Austin Dam Flood of 1911.

Looking down on the ruins of the Bayless Paper Mill in Potter County.
Looking down on the ruins of the Bayless Paper Mill in Potter County.

Construction on the Bayless Paper Mill in Potter County began in 1900, and the dam which provided the large volumes of water the mill required (and which ultimately failed and caused the flood) was built not long after that.

View of the abandoned Bayless Paper Mill from Route 872.
View of the abandoned Bayless Paper Mill from Route 872.

The Bayless Paper Mill was rebuilt after the flood in 1911, but ultimately succumbed to a massive fire in 1944 and was abandoned after that.

Today the abandoned Bayless Paper Mill is part of the Austin Dam Memorial Park in Potter County.

Holes in the floor and ceiling at the Bayless Paper Mill ruins in Potter County.
Holes in the floor and ceiling at the Bayless Paper Mill ruins in Potter County.

5. Austin Dam Ruins

Austin Dam in Potter County was billed as “the dam that could not break” at the time of its construction in 1909.

Aerial view of Austin Dam ruins in Potter County Pennsylvania.
The ruins of Austin Dam in Potter County.

Yet two years later it broke, with catastrophic consequences.

Memorial to the victims of the Austin Dam Flood at Austin Dam Memorial Park.
Memorial to the victims of the Austin Dam Flood at Austin Dam Memorial Park.

Today the ruins of Austin Dam are part of a memorial park dedicated to the 78 people who lost their lives in the flood of 1911.

Looking towards the Bayless Paper Mill ruins and Austin from behind the Austin Dam
Looking towards the Bayless Paper Mill ruins and Austin from behind the Austin Dam.

6. Abandoned Nuclear Jet Engine Testing Bunkers

The abandoned nuclear jet engine testing bunkers in the Quehanna Wild Area are a fascinating Cold War-era remnant of Pennsylvania history, now slowly being reabsorbed by the surrounding forest of Cameron County.

Exterior view of the northern abandoned nuclear jet engine testing bunkers in the Quehanna Wild Area.
Exterior view of the northern abandoned nuclear jet engine testing bunkers in the Quehanna Wild Area.

The goal of the work done at this once-secretive site was to develop nuclear-powered jet engines for the United States Air Force, so that fighter planes and bombers could stay airborne indefinitely, without refueling.

Observation windows in the nuclear jet engine testing bunkers.
Observation windows in the nuclear jet engine testing bunkers.

By 1960 the project was scrapped, and all that remains today are the nuclear jet engine testing bunkers themselves – large boxes of concrete and steel with tiny slit windows once covered by thick layers of blast-resistant glass, where engineers and technicians would have monitored the engines undergoing testing.

The entrance to the northern nuclear jet engine bunker in the Quehanna Wild Area Cameron County Pennsylvania
The entrance to the northern nuclear jet engine bunker in the Quehanna Wild Area in Cameron County

7. The Abandoned Kunes Camp

When the previously mentioned nuclear jet engine testing bunkers were built in Cameron County, local hunting camp owners were forced to abandoned their properties, and the abandoned Kunes Camp is one such property.

Kunes Camp in the spring of 2020.
Ruins of the abandoned Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area.

This ingeniously constructed camp has survived in part because two of the four walls are actually massive boulders that were incorporated into the camp structure itself.

Top-down view of Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area
Top-down view of Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area

Today the abandoned Kunes Camp is part of the yellow-blazed Kunes Camp Trail in the Quehanna Wild Area.

Entrance to Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area.
Entrance to Kunes Camp in the Quehanna Wild Area.

8. The Abandoned Dinkey Shed at the 1000 Steps

The Dinkey Shed was built in 1938 as a maintenance facility for the “dinkey trains” that pulled rail cars of ganister (sandstone) from the nearby Ledge Quarry in Huntingdon County.

The Dinky Shed along the Standing Stone Trail in late October.
The Dinky Shed along the Standing Stone Trail in late October.

Abandoned when the quarry closed in 1952, the Dinkey Shed has since been incorporated into the 1000 Steps, part of the Standing Stone Trail and one of the most popular hikes in central Pennsylvania.

Inside the Dinky Shed along the Standing Stone Trail.
Inside the Dinky Shed along the Standing Stone Trail.

9. The Ghost Town of Scotia

Driving along Scotia Range Road through State Game Lands 176 near State College now, you’d never guess that you are passing right by the location of a once-thriving iron mining boomtown.

View from above of the ore washer remains at Scotia.
Remains of the ghost town of Scotia near State College.

But in the late 1800s, the company town of Scotia, built by one of the richest men in the world at the time, served as home to employees of Andrew Carnegie’s Scotia Mines and Iron Works.

The concrete base of the ore washer is one of the few reminders of the ghost town of Scotia near State College.
This concrete base of the ore washer is one of the few reminders of the ghost town of Scotia near State College.

Now, Scotia is but a ghost town (and some say still inhabited by ghosts!), and the few remaining structures are being slowly swallowed up by the Earth.

The concrete remains of the Scotia iron ore washer near State College.
One of the abandoned structures at the ghost town of Scotia in Centre County.

10. Turn Hole Tunnel at Lehigh Gorge State Park

Turn Hole Tunnel is an abandoned railroad tunnel built in 1866 and in use until 1956.

Abandoned railroad tunnel near Glen Onoko Falls Trail.
Abandoned Turn Hole Tunnel near Glen Onoko Falls Trail.

And while the tunnel is still open to park visitors, the popular and nearby Glen Onoko Falls Trail is no longer, closed by the PA Game Commission in 2019 after nearly 150 years of attracting tourists to the Jim Thorpe area.

Chameleon Falls along the Glen Onoko Waterfalls Trail in Pennsylvania
The author at Chameleon Falls along the Glen Onoko Falls Trail in 2018.

11. The Abandoned Blair Lime Kilns

The abandoned Blair Lime Kilns are remnants of a thriving limestone-processing facility that once operated around the clock in a now-tranquil corner of Blair County.

The abandoned Blair Limestone Company kilns at Canoe Creek State Park.
The abandoned Blair Limestone Company kilns at Canoe Creek State Park.

As with many similar operations, once the local limestone was exhausted, the kilns were abandoned, and their remnants are now part of Canoe Creek State Park.

Exploring the abandoned lime kilns at Canoe Creek State Park.
Exploring the abandoned lime kilns at Canoe Creek State Park.

12. The Kinzua Viaduct

The Kinzua Viaduct was once the longest and tallest railway bridge in the entire world!

The remains of the Kinzua Viaduct at Kinzua Bridge State Park in McKean County Pennsylvania.
The remains of the Kinzua Viaduct at Kinzua Bridge State Park in McKean County

On July 21, 2003 , a tornado struck the bridge, destroying 11 of the 20 support structures.

The debris field left by the tornado that struck the Kinzua Viaduct in 2003.
The debris field left by the tornado that struck the Kinzua Viaduct in 2003.

The remains of the Kinzua Viaduct have been resurrected as the Kinzua Skywalk and are part of Kinzua Bridge State Park.

Train tracks along the Kinzua Skywalk at Kinzua Bridge State Park.
Train tracks along the Kinzua Skywalk at Kinzua Bridge State Park.

13. The Salisbury Viaduct

Abandoned as a railroad bridge in the mid-Seventies, the Salisbury Viaduct has in more recent times been reborn as part of the Great Allegheny Passage rail trail in western PA.

The steel trestles supporting the Salisbury Viaduct in Somerset County PA
The steel trestles supporting the Salisbury Viaduct in Somerset County, PA.

Explorers can hike or bike across this 101 foot-high, 1,908 foot-long former railroad bridge and experience exceptional views of the surrounding countryside.

Rusty Glessner taking in the sunrise over the Salisbury Viaduct.
The abandoned Salisbury Viaduct, now part of the Great Allegheny Passage.

14. The Big Savage Tunnel

The Big Savage Tunnel, also located in Somerset County, is a formerly abandoned railroad tunnel that has been incorporated into the Great Allegheny Passage rail trail.

Trains from the Western Maryland Railroad once passed through the Big Savage Tunnel, now part of the Great Allegheny Passage.
Trains from the Western Maryland Railroad once passed through the Big Savage Tunnel, now part of the Great Allegheny Passage.

Today you can hike or bike through this 3,294 foot long tunnel which was a critical link in the Western Maryland Railway, until the entire line was abandoned in 1975.

The southeastern entrance to the Big Savage Tunnel along the Great Allegheny Passage.
The southeastern entrance to the Big Savage Tunnel along the Great Allegheny Passage.

15. Rockland Tunnel

Completed in 1916, the Rockland Tunnel in Venango County was constructed by the Pennsylvania Railroad to expedite the transportation of oil out of the region.

Entrance to the Rockland Tunnel along the Allegheny River Rail Trail.
Entrance to the Rockland Tunnel along the Allegheny River Rail Trail.

Now part of the Allegheny River Rail Trail, explorers can hike or bike through this unlit, 2,868 foot-long tunnel.

The Rockland Tunnel in Venango County, PA.
The Rockland Tunnel in Venango County, PA.

16. Rockland Furnace

Rockland Furnace, located just minutes from the Rockland Tunnel, was used to produce iron ore starting in 1832, before being abandoned in 1854.

Rockland Furnace near Kennerdell in Venango County PA
The abandoned Rockland Furnace near Kennerdell in Venango County, PA

Rockland Furnace was powered by a dam and water wheel on Shull Run, where today you’ll find the beautiful Freedom Falls.

Freedom Falls on Shull Run in Venango County.
Freedom Falls on Shull Run in Venango County.

17. Greenwood Furnace

From 1834 to 1904, the furnaces of Greenwood in Huntingdon County produced charcoal-fired iron in great abundance, and a thriving company town that included nearly 130 buildings evolved around that industry.

History of the furnace and iron making operation at Greenwood Furnace State Park.
History of the furnace and iron making operation at Greenwood Furnace State Park.

Today, the ghost town of Greenwood and the abandoned remains of the furnaces are part of the larger Greenwood Furnace State Park.

Exploring the inside of the Greenwood Furnace.
Exploring the inside of the Greenwood Furnace.

So there you have it – 17 awesomely abandoned places in Pennsylvania you can LEGALLY visit!

The Abandoned PA Turnpike rail trail in Bedford County.
The Abandoned PA Turnpike rail trail in Bedford County.

Honorable Mention

Although it is a privately-operated attraction and open by invitation only, the Windber Trolley Graveyard deserves an honorable mention on any list of amazing abandoned places in Pennsylvania.

The parallel train tracks where many of the vintage trolley cars sit rusting away in Windber, Pennsylvania.
The parallel train tracks where many of the vintage trolley cars sit rusting away in Windber, Pennsylvania.

This sprawling collection of trolleys, trains, and buses is tucked away on a dead-end street (fittingly) in the PA Laurel Highlands.

Touring the streetcars at the WIndber Trolley Graveyard is trip back through time.
Touring the streetcars at the Windber Trolley Graveyard is a trip back through time.

The Vintage Electric Streetcar Company, as it is officially known, is located in the formerly abandoned Berwind Coal Company Railroad Shop in Windber, PA.

Nature is slowly reclaiming the tracks and streetcars at the Windber Trolley Graveyard.
Nature is slowly reclaiming the tracks and streetcars at the Windber Trolley Graveyard.

Occasionally open for tours operated by photographers specializing in abandoned places (and no I am NOT one of them!), the Windber Trolley Graveyard is a fascinating destination, should you be lucky enough to score a visit.

This trolley once carried passengers to Boston College, but now sits inside the repair shop at the Windber Trolley Graveyard.
This trolley once carried passengers to Boston College, but now sits inside the repair shop at the Windber Trolley Graveyard.

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A unique firetower-style vacation rental cabin in the Poconos.
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Rusty Glessner is an award-winning photographer, lifelong Pennsylvanian, and creator of the PA Bucket List travel blog.

3 COMMENTS

    • Plus they buried it the summer of 2019. Maybe 2020 I don’t remember but anyhow Too many people were being stupid and the owners didn’t want to get sued.

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