Looking back in time, about 25 years ...
These pictures were taken between 1981 and 1982. The one on the left is the eastern portal and the other is the western portal. Both portals still had their steel letters hanging overhead at the time of these photos. At the time, the P.T.C. was using the western portal for storing gravel and rock salt. The eastern portal, more than 4500 feet away, appears to be unused at the time. The presence or absence of the wooden doors on the eastern portal cannot be confirmed by these pictures. A visitor to the tunnel who did so with a guide from the Pennsylvania Turnpike, says that you can very faintly see light through the tunnel from one portal to the other.
Photographs by William Symons, circa 1981-1982. Used with permission of the photographer.
[I have lost the original e-mail that was sent to me to, but I recall some
of the key points.]
A reliable source wrote to tell me about a legal visit he was allowed make to Laurel Hill. I am unsure how long ago this trip occurred, though I believe it to be sometime in the early 1990s. I do not know the circumstances in which my source was allowed to make the visit. I am also not at liberty to describe how the visit was made. No pictures were taken: neither outside the tunnel portals, nor inside the tunnel or the adjoining buildings.
These are the key points my source observed:
|The floor of the tunnel was rather rough and bumpy because the P.T.C. had been using the tunnel to store rock salt|
|The portals of Laurel Hill Tunnel were indeed boarded up at one time, following it's closure to traffic|
|The boards were placed inside the portals where the tunnel changed from an arch to a flat concrete roof|
|These boards blocked direct tunnel access but did not stop vandals from doing their work|
|Concrete "jersey" barriers were not stored in the tunnel, probably due to the cranes needing a lot of height to move them|
|The P.T.C. would not reveal what the tunnel was being used for at the time of the tour|
|You can very faintly see light from one end of Laurel Hill Tunnel to the other|
Looking back in time, 2002-2003 ...
These photos were found on a geocache website. I have been unable to relocate the website and the page. Visitors to the eastern portal of the tunnel found the tunnel to be going through some cleaning out. Their quest was to find a hidden geocache treasure in the area around the portal. The website I found this information on had a lot of postings detailing the quest. According to these posts, no one entered the tunnel maintenance rooms, the fan housing, or the ventilation shafts -- thus, we know nothing about their interior conditions at the time.
What the geocachers have reported finding there and taken pictures of the area help to solve a mysteries and answer some questions.
Note the wooden pallets and other items sitting inside the eastern portal in these pictures from 2003.
It appears that the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission was cleaning house before it began to lease out the tunnel to a private entity.
The picture above is the only known photograph that anyone has taken inside of the abandoned Laurel Hill Tunnel.
According to a source who was once able to visit and ride through the tunnel with a turnpike official, you can very faintly see light from one portal to the other. The reflection of light that you see in this picture is probably from the flash on someone's camera or may be a vehicle, but it is not light from the other portal.
At the time of this photograph, the tunnel was still used solely by the P.T.C. There were no lights or electricity in the tunnel following the closure of the tunnel to turnpike traffic in 1964.
This photograph supports the theory that the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission had previously been using Laurel Hill Tunnel for storing core samples.
These core samples are believed to be from the Mon-Fayette Expressway, which is part of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
A geocache visitor to the tunnel took this photograph in 2003.
This page was created on:
December 27, 2005.
Last updated on: August 09, 2014.
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