Having learned to drive on the turnpike, 70, and 40 and logging a lot of miles on those roads since getting my license in the mid-1970s, I had fun here. I learned that the turnpike was based on the roadbed surveyed and partially constructed for the South Penn Railroad which sat abandoned for 50 years when that project was cancelled in the 1880s. Some bridges and right of ways were constructed or graded then, and while some were reused by the Turnpike others were abandoned in farmers fields, making for some fascinating pictures and potential industrial archeology roadtrips.
It is interesting to read about some of the "new" features of the Turnpike, like the median barriers and tunnels that by the time I was driving had become nuisances and bottlenecks. But at the time of its construction in the 1930s and 40s this truly was "The World's Greatest Highway." The pictures in the book are worth the time just by themselves.
And the book solves the greatest mystery about the Turnpike for me: why are there a set of stairs down the embankment on the right side of the east bound lanes between Breezewood and Everett? Driving past you can just see the steeple of a church looming over the bank, but surely no one stops on the Turnpike and walks up the steps to church? Well, no but the church is why the steps are there--the church's cemetery was in the right of way for the Turnpike, and as part of the negotiations to acquire it the Turnpike agreed to allow the church to build the stairs down to the road! So now I wonder if anyone ever did take that route to church?
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