Does the thought of taking an epic road trip to see the best abandoned places in PA intrigue you?
If so, you’re in the right place!
What follows is a 819 mile road trip that takes you to nine of Pennsylvania’s most intriguing abandoned places.
I’ve even created a downloadable version of the route map for you!
Best of all – every one of these abandoned places are LEGAL TO VISIT!
From an abandoned superhighway to a pair of abandoned prisons.
From an abandoned paper mill to an abandoned “concrete city”.
Simply click on the blue text links to view details about each of the nine abandoned places in PA mentioned in this article.
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. Eastern State Penitentiary
Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, Eastern State Penitentiary was the most famous and expensive prison in the world when it opened in 1829.
The prison closed in 1971, and slowly descended into ruin over the next 20 years.
Saved from the wrecking ball and now owned by a non-profit organization, Eastern State Penitentiary operates as a year-round museum and historic site.
The goal of the non-profit that now owns the prison is to preserve the prison as a “stabilized ruin”.
2. Concrete City
At the time of its construction in the early 1900s, Concrete City in Luzerne County was considered to be a “community of the future”, but it was abandoned a mere 11 years after the first residents moved in.
Today, the 20 concrete duplexes that make up Concrete City sits on a 60 acre parcel of land owned by the Nanticoke General Municipal Authority.
You’ll find a map and directions to Concrete City at this link.
3. Abandoned Alvira Bunkers
The abandoned Alvira bunkers in Union County were used to store explosives as part of the American WWII war effort.
Today, the 149 dome-shaped concrete bunkers are gradually being reclaimed by nature.
In addition to the bunkers, you’ll find the cemetery of the ghost town of Alvira near the bunker complex.
4. The Ghost Town of Scotia
Built 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.
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.
Scotia is also the burial spot of Bert Delige, convicted murderer who was publicly hanged at the Bellefonte jail courtyard on April 25, 1911, the last public hanging in Centre County.
To this day, rumors of a large, black, human-shaped figure wandering the Scotia Barrens persist, and sightings seem to peak around the date of Delige’s execution on April 25th.
5. Abandoned Bayless Paper Mill
The abandoned Bayless Paper Mill in Potter County is forever linked to the collapse of the Austin Dam and the second-deadliest flood in Pennsylvania history.
On September 30, 1911 the Austin Dam broke, unleashing 400 million gallons of water in a torrent that tore through the narrow freeman Run valley, destroying the paper mill before reaching and destroying most of the town of Austin as well.
The Bayless Paper Mill was rebuilt after the flood, and remained operational until a massive fire in 1944 caused it to close forever.
Today the Bayless Paper Mill is part of the Austin Dam Memorial Park in Potter County.
6. Yellow Dog Village
Yellow Dog Village is a former mining company town dating back to the early 1900s that now serves as a time capsule and tourist attraction in Armstrong County, PA.
Unlike many so-called “ghost towns” that amount to little more than a sign and the remnants of a few foundations, Yellow Dog Village is a collection of 26 buildings and a park where people lived and played for nearly 100 years.
Residents of the village started getting sick in the early 2000s, and in 2009 residents were forced to leave after it was determined that the village’s water supply was contaminated with E. Coli bacteria.
Because many of the last residents of Yellow Dog Village left in a hurry once it was discovered that the water was contaminated, you’ll find a variety of personal effects inside the homes.
7. The Abandoned Cresson State Prison
SCI-Cresson in Cambria County closed June 30, 2013, with the State citing the antiquity of the prison and rising costs of maintaining it as the primary reasons for the closure.
And now thanks to new, private ownership, you can LEGALLY explore this maze of buildings, some dating back more than 100 years.
Let me reiterate: THE PRISON GROUNDS ARE NOW PRIVATE PROPERTY – YOU MUST SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT TO VISIT!
However, the very modest entry fee is more than worth it for the size and scope of the property you get to explore at the abandoned Cresson State Prison.
Unfortunately, as of the summer of 2023, a legal battle is playing out in the courts between Big House Produce, the hydroponic farmers who also operate the tours of the grounds, and the landlord of the property.
Which means at least for now, all tours of the former Cresson Sanatorium are on hold (I’ll remove these paragraphs if the legal matters are sorted out and tours resume).
8. The Abandoned PA Turnpike
The largest and most famous of all the abandoned places in PA is the Abandoned PA Turnpike!
Thirteen miles of abandoned superhighway, last open to normal vehicle traffic in 1968.
This relic of the nation’s first superhighway is now a desolate hiking / biking trail in Bedford and Fulton counties.
You’ll find maps/directions to the trail heads at either end of the Abandoned PA Turnpike at this link.
9. The Abandoned POW Camp in Cumberland County
Exploring an Abandoned POW Camp in Cumberland County will show you how to find a secret POW camp set up during World War Two that housed German and Japanese prisoners in a remote section of the Michaux State Forest.
The Pine Grove Furnace POW Camp, as it was known at the time, was classified as “secret” and no civilians worked there or were allowed to have knowledge of the camp.
The ruins of the Pine Grove Furnace POW Camp are located a mile north of present-day Route 233, approximately 2 miles northwest of Pine Grove Furnace State Park.
So there you have it – one epic road trip to nine of PA’s best abandoned places that you can LEGALLY explore!
Explore one, or explore them all, but enjoy the ride no matter what!
33 Abandoned Places in PA You Can Legally Explore will give you nearly two dozen more spots to check out, if all things old and abandoned tickle your fancy!
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