Ruins and Abandoned Sites in Pennsylvania You Can Legally Visit

Spread the love

More Info

Across Pennsylvania, numerous old ruins and abandoned locations remind us of our history. While many of them are on private property and therefore prohibited from visiting, others are available to explore on their own or join a guided tour around.
Here are some of my favorite ruins and abandoned spots in Pennsylvania you may legally visit.

Eastern State Prison

Built as a state-of-the-art prison in 1829, Eastern State Prison in Philadelphia provided the basis for many future correctional institutions. The prison remained operating until 1970, when it was decommissioned in favor of more modern institutions. Over the following two decades, the jail was abandoned until it was opened for limited tourists in 1988.
Since then, while areas of Eastern State Prison have been cleaned up, the complex is managed as a preserved ruin and is a beautiful destination to visit.

Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike

The Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike is a 13-mile length of highway that was part of the original routing of the PA Turnpike. But, as demand forced modifications to the roadway, this segment of the road and its two tunnels were bypassed.
Now, tourists may walk or bike this part of the route, traveling through the two-mile-long tunnels and experiencing this post-apocalyptic scene, one of my favorite abandoned locations in Pennsylvania. The turnpike has two entrance locations: one in Breezewood and one in Fulton County.

Carrie Furnace

Carrie Furnace in Pittsburgh is about all that remains of the once-massive Homestead Steel Works on the banks of the Monongahela River. Built-in 1907, the two blast furnaces continued service until 1978.
In 2010, the furnaces were opened for visits, giving a gritty view into how steel was created. This is an excellent site for both history enthusiasts and photographers to visit.

Austin Dam

Austin Dam is located in rural Potter County, Pennsylvania. In 1911, the dam fell, and the subsequent deluge of water killed 78 persons. The dam was later repaired but failed again in 1942. Thankfully this time, no one was murdered. After this second failure, Austin Dam was abandoned and left to disintegrate.
Now, tourists may wander around the surrounding park, marvel at the enormity of Austin Dam and its crumbling remains, and pay their respects to those who died here.

Jet Bunkers in the Quehanna Wild Area

One of the least recognized sites on this list is the jet bunkers in the Quehanna Wild Area. In the 1950s, the Curtiss-Wright Corporation bought 51,000 acres of land in this rural part of Pennsylvania. They soon walled it off and erected a nuclear reactor and many bunkers. These bunkers were used to test nuclear-powered aircraft engines as part of the government’s Atoms for Peace program.
While the nuclear reactor was deactivated decades ago, the bunkers remain hidden beneath. While entry is not authorized, it’s still feasible to examine the ruins of the bunkers from above ground and peep into a few holes to catch a glimpse of these historic fortifications.
Nearby, you may also visit the remnants of Kunes Camp.


Centralia is the most renowned abandoned town in Pennsylvania. The seam below this coal area town went on fire in the early 1960s, which signaled the beginning of the end for the settlement.
Now, this once-bustling town is reduced to less than ten people. While most of the buildings have been knocked down, driving through the ancient streets and observing the curbs, gutters, and stone stairs surrounded by acres of wooded land is still intriguing.
The most popular place in Centralia was Graffiti Highway. However, this spot was regrettably demolished lately by the property owner. Despite this, driving on the public roads around town, however, is still exciting.

Redbank Coaling Tower

Situated along the Armstrong Trail, a 35-mile rail route in Armstrong County, PA, you’ll discover the Redbank Coaling Tower.
This colossal tower looms, towering over the route immediately below it. From 1930 to 1957, this tower was used to refill railway engines with coal as they made their way down the banks of the Allegheny River.
Today, both bike riders and hikers may check out the base of this tower to learn more about the railroading sector in the region. When there, the short bike ride or stroll to the Brady Tunnel and the Philipston Turntable is well worth it.

Mount Moriah Cemetery

Philadelphia’s Mount Moriah Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries in the country and the last resting place of up to 300,000 individuals. Regrettably, years of neglect left this cemetery, which was initially built in 1855 and was previously the location of Betsy Ross’ tomb, overgrown and practically unvisitable.
Luckily, owing to a handful of determined volunteers, Mount Moriah Cemetery is recovering to its former beauty. Mount Moriah Cemetery still has overgrown corners for those interested in abandoned areas in Pennsylvania.

Kinzua Bridge

When finished in 1882, the Kinzua Bridge was the most significant and highest globally. For nearly 100 years, trains utilized this overpass to traverse the valley more than 300 feet below. Nevertheless, during renovations in 2003, a tornado blasted over the valley. After it departed, 60% of the bridge lay twisted on the valley level.
Now, the bridge is the central feature of Kinzua Bridge State Park. Visitors may stroll out onto the remnants of the bridge or go to the valley floor for a close-up look at the bridge’s remains, which still lie where they collapsed.

Lackawanna Coal Mine

Northeastern Pennsylvania has a long anthracite coal mining heritage and nowhere is that better displayed than visiting the Lackawanna Coal Mine near Scranton. This mine started in 1860 and was actively exploited until 1966.
After being shuttered, the mine was abandoned for two decades before it was offered for visits in 1985. Now, tourists may walk deep beneath to observe this once-active mine and learn more about coal mining.

SCI Cresson and the Cresson Sanatorium

Situated near Cresson, PA, only a few miles from Altoona, you’ll discover the abandoned SCI Cresson.
This location has a 100-year history as a TB sanatorium, a mental hospital, and a current jail. You can visit anything from an ancient psychiatric ward to modern cell blocks. Without a doubt, this location is certainly one of the largest abandoned places in Pennsylvania and one of the most diversified.

Camp Michaux

Situated in Michaux State Forest, Camp Michaux is a former prison-of-war camp during World War II. Known as Pine Grove Furnace Prisoner of War Interrogation Camp, German and Japanese officials were sent here after being captured and interrogated. Following the war, it became a religious camp until the early 1970s.
Since then, it’s been tucked away in the trees of this state forest. While nothing remains of the structures, it’s an exciting destination for history buffs seeking excellent abandoned sites in Pennsylvania.

Oil Creek State Park

Oil Creek State Park is recognized as the “Valley that Changed the World” and was the location of the world’s first commercial oil well. In the late 1800s, the region around Oil Creek was home to thousands of prospectors seeking to strike it rich. While the industry is (mostly) long gone and natural, beauty has once again returned to the park; there are still areas of interest for individuals that appreciate abandoned locations.
Near the park office originally existed the community of Petroleum Centre; now, all that remains are a pair of steps that once led to the bank. Other places of interest are sprinkled throughout the park, and it’s practically impossible to stroll a track without encountering ancient, rusty oil equipment resting in the forest.


Situated in the Scotia Barrens, just a few miles from State College, you’ll find the remains of Scotia.
This former mining hamlet has been abandoned for many decades, and while much of it has been lost to the woods, fragments remain, including many concrete structures and an old rail line.
In addition to the abandoned mining infrastructure, this location is also remarkable for its micro-climate, which is claimed to be several degrees cooler than the surrounding area and supports peculiar plant species.

Concrete City

Concrete City is located in Luzerne County near Nanticoke and was previously corporate housing for chosen personnel that worked at the neighboring Truesdale Colliery. It opened in 1911 with 20 duplex residences.
By all accounts, this was a nice and attractive neighborhood to live in, albeit it was short-lived owing to plumping and other concerns. By 1924, the village was abandoned.
It would have been taken down then, but the concrete used to create the dwellings was too harsh for even dynamite to damage.
Currently, the homes lay concealed in the woods on land owned by the city. It’s fantastic to visit the homes and think about what it would have been like to have lived in this neighborhood.
When visiting, please be polite as this is a historical place, and attempts are being made to preserve it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *