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Roadtrip! Pennsylvania Ghosts and Hauntings



Abandoned Sideling Tunnel

Pike 2 Bike Lot—
3300-3346 Pump Station Road
Waterfall, Pennsylvania 16689
(40.048771, -78.095859)

This story can be found in my book:

Haunted Hikes of the Appalachian Hills and Hollers II

There is an abandoned 13-mile section of turnpike in Pennsylvania. The wild is starting to take over; tall shoots of grass and saplings have grasped their way between cracks and fissures of the dappled gray-black pavement from the darkness below the buckled asphalt. Brush and tall trees once kept far from its path by an army of road crews have crept up to the solid white edge line like an advancing enemy easing forward, preparing to recapture the land it lost years earlier. Colorful chalk graffiti shows itself in greens and pinks and reds and blues.
The old turnpike is on many people’s bucket lists to visit, although few have the guts to take this forsaken post-apocalyptic-looking road and follow it through an abandoned tunnel that is 1.3 miles long, pitch-black in some places, and just plain creepy. However, it is not enough that it appears isolated and friendless. There are things of the supernatural, too, that lurk here.
This bit of road was part of the Pennsylvania Turnpike that got its roots from the vision of a mainline railroad in the late 1800s with nine tunnels running across Alleghenies and connecting Harrisburg to Pittsburgh. Workers began building the railway and its tunnels using an inactive charter of the South Pennsylvania Railroad, but owners only saw about forty percent of it finished. One of the backers sold his shares to a competing railroad company, and work was stopped cold.
Nearly a half-century later and during the Great Depression, the Motor Truck Association proposed building a toll highway across Pennsylvania on the abandoned railroad bed. This dream became a reality, and the turnpike, dubbed “America’s First Superhighway,” was created along with toll booths and plazas where drivers and passengers could purchase gas and other items. Workers even enlarged the railroad tunnels to fit two cars.
One problem from the start was the congestion caused by the bottlenecking of multilane and opposing traffic having to adjust from two lanes to one when driving through these east-west tunnels. On summer weekends, traffic could be backed up for 1-3 hours on the roads. But that wasn’t the only problem. With only one lane of travel and an increase in traffic over the years, there were many head-on collisions. To resolve these issues and modernize the turnpike in the 1960s, three tunnels (Sideling Hill, Rays Hill, and Laurel Mountain) were removed, and the roads were bypassed. In addition, Cove Valley Service Plaza near the Sideling Hill Tunnel was removed, and the highway was abandoned.
That nobody drives there anymore doesn’t stop people from visiting. And they can come with caution. Southern Alleghenies Conservancy purchased the abandoned turnpike and converted it to a bike trail. You can hike or bike a little over a mile and then traverse the 1.3 miles through the lone tunnel for those who dare. Partway, you will even pass the pad for the old plaza, although the building is gone. It is dark and 6782 feet long.
When I biked the turnpike and went through the tunnel, turned around, and went back the way I had come, my light was tiny, and my cell phone only lit up a small part of the passageway, so my ride most of the way was completely dark. Ug. It wasn’t bad on the way through. But I had time along that little over a mile to think about all the dark things that are supposed to creep around inside. Apparently, there is a ghostly girl who was killed in a car wreck there who lurks within the confines of the tunnel. Some who have tossed pebbles inside have them launched back at them! And some have seen mysterious car lights from vehicle wrecks from the past. But what would later grab my attention was that many people have witnessed a Wendigo-type creature who also uses it as its lair – it is described as over 6 feet tall, gray, thin, and hunched over.
I did not know these specific details when I toured the road and tunnel. But it was probably a good thing. Something big enough to cast a shadow shifted and moved with me while I was partway through on the ride back. My fist-size bike light only lit a teeny-weeny path before me, and I could not see much out of the range of its circle of dim light a foot before my front tire. I thought the shadowy figure was maybe a deer or my imagination. Still, it was one terrifying, heart-thumping, leg-pumping bike ride before I got back to the other side. I stopped and looked back, trying to catch my breath. I saw nothing but darkness inside.
Listen to it on my Podcast, Sometime Between Dusk and Dawn: https://anchor.fm/.../The-Abandoned-Pennsylvanias...
Or take a bike ride with me along the abandoned turnpike on my Youtube Channel: https://youtu.be/nexHE0bASpw



Sideling Tunnel: Pennsylvania haunted and abandoned tunnel.

Sideling Tunnel: Pennsylvania haunted and abandoned tunnel.

Sideling Tunnel: Pennsylvania haunted bike ride.