Exploring the Abandoned Alvira Bunkers in Union County

Inside one of the abandoned Alvira bunkers.

The abandoned Alvira 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”.

Brief History of 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.

Sign at the site of Alvira and the abandoned munitions bunkers in Union County PA
Sign at the site of Alvira and the abandoned munitions bunkers in Union County

But just 11 months after the Pennsylvania Ordnance Works started manufacturing TNT, it was closed down due to a lack of need for the TNT being made and stored there.

And while the residents had been promised that they could buy back their land after the war, that promise was broken.

The federal government instead kept the land and gradually divvied it up, giving 4,000 acres to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to construct Allenwood Prison, and giving 3,000 acres to the state of Pennsylvania (including the land where the bunkers sit) which became State Game Lands 252.


The Alvira Bunkers Today

Today, the 149 dome-shaped concrete bunkers that once housed explosives for the US military are gradually being reclaimed by nature.

Partially hidden entrance to one of the abandoned Alvira bunkers in Union County.
Partially hidden entrance to one of the abandoned Alvira bunkers in Union County.

Designed to explode upwards in case of accidental detonation, and spaced far enough apart to prevent a chain-reaction spreading to other bunkers, these concrete igloos, nearly 80 years old now, have fared remarkably well on the inside.

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

The official PA Game Commission map of SGL 252 shows the location of all the bunkers – all that is required of modern explorers is to do the bushwhacking!

Locations of the Alvira Bunkers on State Game Lands 252 in Union County Pennsylvania
Locations of the Alvira bunkers on State Game Lands 252 in Union County.

Follow along as I show you exactly how to get to the abandoned Alvira bunkers, as well as answer some FAQs and show you a few of the sights you’ll encounter there.


This property is not maintained or monitored for safety conditions, and therefore this is strictly a VISIT AT YOUR OWN RISK DESTINATION!

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


Abandoned Alvira Bunkers FAQs

Where exactly are the abandoned Alvira bunkers located?

They Alvira bunkers are located in the Union County portion of State Game Lands 252, approximately 7 miles south of Williamsport.
The Union County line approaching the Alvira bunkers on Alvira Road.

Can I navigate to the Alvira bunkers by GPS?

Yes – use GPS coordinates 41.13618, -76.95924 to navigate to the first of several parking lots along Alvira Road.
How to find the Alvira bunkers in Union County Pennsylvania

Are any of the Alvira bunkers roadside and easy to reach?

Yes – in fact you can literally park right next to several of the bunkers along Alvira Road.

Parking spot next to one of the roadside abandoned Alvira Bunkers.

Are there any trails leading to the bunkers further back from Alvira Road?

Yes – the remnants of the access roads (now gated and covered with vegetation) serve as trails between the bunkers.
Remnants of a road through the Alvira bunkers on State Game Lands 252.

How many of the bunkers are you able to enter?

On a recent visit (Summer 2020) I was able to find and enter several dozen within a 2 hour time period.
Please note – I have never tried to find all the bunkers, or get an exact count of how many are still accessible.
Inside one of the concrete igloo-like bunkers on State Game Lands 252

Are any of the bunkers still locked?

Yes, but again I have not attempted to determine an exact count of how many are locked/unlocked.
Locked door to one of the abandoned Alvira bunkers in Union County.

Are you able to see inside the bunkers without a flashlight?

The interiors of most of the unlocked bunkers are dimly lit by a small hole in the center of the roofs, but I would strongly recommend taking a flashlight along.
Looking straight up inside one of the abandoned Alvira munitions bunkers in Union County.

Are most of the bunkers full of trash and graffiti?

No – although none of the bunkers I’ve personally entered are in pristine condition, the further away you get from Alvira Road, the less vandalized the bunkers generally become.

An empty munitions bunker at Alvira.

What else is there to see at Alvira?

Several cemeteries still stand on Game Lands 252 (see map above), including many Civil War-era graves.
Memorial in one of the cemeteries on State Game Lands 252.


Tips for Exploring the Alvira Bunkers

The Alvira bunkers are a fascinating and relatively easy ruins to explore, but keep in mind this is State Game Lands.

Entrance to one of the bunkers on State Game Lands 252 along Alvira Road.
Entrance to one of the bunkers on State Game Lands 252 along Alvira Road.

So my first recommendation is to wear a blaze orange hat/vest when hiking here, regardless of the time of year, even if you don’t “think” it’s hunting season.

Be smart and be seen!


Secondwear long pants and sturdy boots if you want to do more than the very basic roadside explorations.

Abandoned materials inside one of the Alvira bunkers on State Game Lands 252.
Abandoned materials inside one of the Alvira bunkers on State Game Lands 252.

Some of the vegetation around the bunkers is quite thick (and prickly), and there are plenty of sharp objects strewn about in and around some of the bunkers.


Thirdtake some type of compass or GPS device to keep track of your location, if you plan on exploring the bunkers away from Alvira Road.

Roadway remnants now covered with vegetation at Alvira bunkers site in Union County..
Roadway remnants now covered with vegetation at Alvira bunkers site in Union County.

Many of the old roads / trails look nearly identical, and none are marked, so it would be quite easy to get turned around out amongst the bunkers.


Fourthbe respectful of the cemeteries and gravesites you encounter.

Old Alvira cemetery on State Game Lands 252.
Old Alvira cemetery on State Game Lands 252.

This is the final resting place for generations of Americans, some who fought and died for the freedoms you now enjoy, and all of whom were loved by someone in their time.


Final Thoughts on the Alvira Bunkers

The abandoned Alvira munitions bunkers are an interesting architectural relic of WWII-era America.

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

They are also a cautionary tale for what can happen to private individuals when the government decides it wants your property.

Inside one of the abandoned Alvira munitions bunkers on State Game Lands 252.
Inside one of the abandoned Alvira munitions bunkers on State Game Lands 252.

Or in the case of Alvira, wants your ENTIRE TOWN.

And what was once a thriving little hamlet in Union County, followed by a TNT factory and munitions depot, is now slowly being reabsorbed by nature and the elements.

Doorway to Alvira bunker number 2.
Doorway to Alvira bunker number 2.

The abandoned Alvira bunkers – go see them while you can!


Nearby Attractions

The Millmont Covered Bridge is the longest covered bridge in Union County.

A side view of Millmont Covered Bridge over Penns Creek.
A side view of Millmont Covered Bridge over Penns Creek in Union County.

The Hassenplug Covered Bridge in Union County is the oldest existing covered bridge in Pennsylvania, and believed to be the second oldest covered bridge in the United States!

Downstream View of the Hassenplug Covered Bridge in Union County Pennsylvania.
Downstream view of the Hassenplug Covered Bridge in Union County.

Factory Covered Bridge is located along Gray Hill Road in Union County, just 2 miles west of the Interstate 80 / Route 15 interchange.

Factory Covered Bridge over White Deer Creek.
factory Covered Bridge in Union County, Pennsylvania.

Hayes Covered Bridge spans Buffalo Creek in Union County, and is still open to vehicular traffic.

Winter at Hayes Covered Bridge near Mifflinburg PA
Winter at Hayes Covered Bridge near Mifflinburg, PA.

Exploring an Abandoned POW Camp in Cumberland County introduces you to a secret POW camp set up during World War Two to house German and Japanese prisoners in a remote section of the Michaux State Forest.

Ruins of the secret POW interrogation camp in the MIchaux State Forest.
Ruins of the secret POW interrogation camp in the Michaux State Forest.

The Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike is the largest abandoned site in Pennsylvania that you can legally visit.

The Abandoned PA Turnpike Pike 2 Bike Trail
The Rays Hill Tunnel along the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike.

At 13 miles long and home to 2 lengthy tunnels, the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike is one of the most unique hiking / biking trails in PA!

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

Concrete City in Luzerne County is an abandoned early-1900s industrial housing complex.

The row of homes that make up the western edge of Concrete City.
The row of homes that make up the western edge of Concrete City.

Now owned by the city of Nanticoke, the 20 duplexes that make up Concrete City are equally fascinating and forlorn.

Houses along the eastern side of Concrete City.
Houses along the eastern side of Concrete City.

Exploring the Ghost Town of Scotia Near State College takes you inside the remains of a iron-mining boomtown gone bust.

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

The abandoned nuclear jet engine bunkers in the Quehanna Wild Area are yet another set of ruins with a link to America’s military-industrial complex.

Abandoned nuclear jet engine testing bunker entrance.
One of the abandoned jet engine testing bunkers in the Quehanna Wild Area.

This secretive base was developed in the 1950’s Cold War-era to test the possibility of creating nuclear-powered jet engines that in turn could be used to construct fighter jets and bombers that would never need to land for refueling.

Abandoned by 1960, the testing bunkers are situated on a remote piece of land that is once again public property, in the form of the Quehanna Wild Area.

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

The Windber Trolley Graveyard in Somerset County is perhaps the most famous privately-owned collection of rusted vehicles in Pennsylvania!

Scenes like this are why finding the Windber Trolley Graveyard are on the bucket list of so many urban explorers.
Scenes like this are why finding the Windber Trolley Graveyard are on the bucket list of so many urban explorers.

With admission by invitation-only, the Windber Trolley Graveyard is a fascinating trip back in time for those lucky enough to secure legal access to this site.

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

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Rusty Glessner is an award-winning photographer, lifelong Pennsylvanian, and creator of the PA Bucket List travel blog.

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