The 2001 "Tunnel Hunt" was tough to beat.  My curiosity with the Pennsylvania Turnpike has not abated since; it has only gotten stronger.  So, on a Thanksgiving trip back to the east coast, I decided that it would be fun to look for evidence of the long-abandoned Carlisle ticket office on the original mainline turnpike.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike was opened to traffic in the fall of 1940.  It began east of Pittsburgh, at Irwin, and ended west of Harrisburg, at Middlesex.  There were eleven interchanges with integral toll booths (then called "ticket offices") at all of them except the Middlesex terminus.  With the exception of the New Stanton and Carlisle, all were of the "trumpet" design, and looked like this:

This is the Willow Hill interchange diagram.  It represents the typical "trumpet" design, allowing easy and efficient access to and egress from "America's First Superhighway".

The original interchange at Carlisle sported a radically-modified trumpet design that intrigued me.  Here's what it looked like:

I could never really understand why it was designed this way, with the odd-sized loops on the north side of the turnpike and the traffic "rectangle" built into the south side.  Why not just build another trumpet?  It was such a big deviation from the standard design.  Maybe they had to make do with the property available, or there were other engineering considerations that are not intuitively obvious (at least not to me).  The north-south road on the right side of the diagram is State Highway 34.  The road leading off to the left, or west, from Route 34 to the traffic rectangle is "K" Street.  The site of the interchange is about a mile north of downtown Carlisle.  After consulting Google Maps, it was clear that at least the ramps were still pretty much in place, as was the rectangle and "K" Street.  When I determined that, I knew I had to go visit the site the next time I was back east.

The location of the ticket office was strategic.  You can see that its placement allowed:

Carlisle was a partial interchange - it did not allow eastbound turnpike access.  The eastern terminus at Middlesex was only 2 miles away, and the highway it dumped into (US 11) intersects PA 34 less than a mile to the south of this site.

On November 22, 2005, Sara and I took a drive to Carlisle to see what we could see.  I was pleased to have been able to find all the ramps.  Any evidence of the ticket office, however, was long since gone - at least as far as I could see.  When the Philadelphia extension opened in the mid-1950's, the Carlisle ticket office and this unique interchange were dismantled, and the eastern terminus interchange at Middlesex was improved to a full-blown trumpet.  I didn't really expect to find any forensic evidence of the building after 50 years - and that's how it turned out.

So, let's begin!

We started at the end of the large loop on the north side of the turnpike.  This loop provided egress from the westbound carriageway of the turnpike.

This photo was taken approx. 100 ft. north of the westbound carriageway, looking south to where the exit ramp departed from the turnpike.

To take this photo, I basically turned around in place.  The exit ramp proceeds off to the right.  To the left, a road was constructed which leads off to some houses.  As such, this former exit ramp has become a 2-way road.

Standing at the confluence of the exit ramp and "the road leading off to some houses", looking at where the latter heads off to.....

We then proceeded to the site of the westbound on-ramp, the smaller of the two loops on the north side of the turnpike.  Unlike the large loop, this one has not been well-preserved, however, it was clearly visible and walkable - to a point.

I parked the car at the "beginning" of the entrance ramp curvature. 

As you can see, nature has pretty much taken over here.  Most of the pavement was gone and there are no actions being taken to preserve the ramp.

Whereas I could have walked all the way up to the barrier gate on the exit ramp, I really didn't want to go much past this ganglia of brush and tree limbs.

This picture was taken just north of where the entrance and exit ramps go underneath the turnpike.  The right-hand lane is the original exit ramp, the one on the left is the entrance ramp, serving the westbound carriageway.

Then we followed the above road underneath the turnpike and over to the site of the eastbound exit ramp.

This is where the exit ramp departed the eastbound carriageway.  The ticket office would have been just to the right of the picture.  I walked up to the fence but couldn't see any evidence of the toll barrier having been there.

Again, I turned around and looked the other way down the exit ramp, toward where it dumped into the traffic "rectangle".


This picture was taken on the south side of the "rectangle", looking northward to where the two ramps dump into it.

This picture was taken at a point near the eastern edge of the rectangle, looking eastbound on "K" Street and its intersection with Highway 34.

Did a "180" here from the middle photo, looking back at the traffic "rectangle".

There you have it.  I need to start thinking about my next adventure.  In the meantime - enjoy this one!