9 abandoned places in Pa. that you can legally visit

Jim Cheney | Special to PennLive

Abandoned places in Pa. that you can visit

Compiled by Jim Cheney | Special to PennLive

Thanks to Pennsylvania’s long history and industrial past, the state is littered with many fantastic abandoned sites just waiting to be discovered. While many of these are off-limits, some are open to the public to either explore on their own or to go on an official tour.

Here are a few of my favorite abandoned places to explore in Pennsylvania.

Jim Cheney | Special to PennLive


When the coal seam beneath Centralia caught fire in the early 1960s, it began the process of destroying the community above. Today, only a handful of people and buildings remain in Centralia, but there is still evidence of the town that was once here. While there’s a debate about whether or not you can legally visit Centralia’s most famous site, Graffiti Highway, visitors can still drive through the streets that once made up the borough. Here, curbs, gutters, and even stone steps lead to now-wooded lots, giving a small glimpse into the town’s past.

Jim Cheney | Special to PennLive


Pittsburgh’s Carrie Furnace is nearly all that remains of the Homestead Steel Works just east of downtown Pittsburgh. Carrie Furnace operated from 1907 until 1978. While the site set completely abandoned for years, it is open today for tours. The site, which has only marginally been cleaned up from its days of operation, is now a fantastic place to learn how steel was made and, somewhat surprisingly, home to some amazing art.

Jim Cheney | Special to PennLive

Abandoned Pa. Turnpike

Located near Breezewood, the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike is a 13-mile stretch of roadway that was bypassed in the 1960s when the road was expanded. Today, visitors can walk or take bicycles along this roadway to watch as nature reclaims this once busy thoroughfare. There are also two tunnels that visitors can still travel through, though lights are highly recommended as the center of the tunnels have no sunlight.

  • WATCH: The abandoned turnpike tunnel in Somerset

    Jim Cheney | Special to PennLive

    Eastern State Penitentiary

    When Eastern State Penitentiary opened in Philadelphia in 1829, it was the world’s first penitentiary and revolutionized how the world imprisoned inmates. The prison operated until 1971 after which it was abandoned. The prison was nearly torn down before it was opened as a tourist attraction in 1994. Today, visitors can walk through this former prison, parts of which have been left to crumble, and learn about what life was like for those that lived and worked inside these walls.

    Jim Cheney | Special to PennLive

    Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour

    Take a trip underground into the Lackawanna Coal Mine in Scranton. Opened in 1860, this mine was in operation until 1966. After sitting abandoned for nearly two decades, the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour opened in 1985. Visitors travel 300 feet underground to learn about how anthracite coal was mined and what life was like for the miners that worked in the coal fields around the cit

Photo from Wikipedia and used under the follow license: CC BY-SA 3.0

Alvira Bunkers

During World War II, the government used eminent domain to secure land in Pennsylvania to create a factory for explosives. In addition to the factory, over 100 concrete bunkers were built to house the explosives. The factory here was short-lived however, and it was completely demolished in the 1950s. However, many of the concrete bunkers, known today as the Alvira Bunkers, can still be seen on State Game Lands 252 in both Union and Lycoming Counties.

Jim Cheney | Special to PennLive

W.A. Young and Sons Machine Shop

The W.A. Young and Sons Machine Shop was built in 1900 along the banks of the Monongahela River south of Pittsburgh to repair riverboats. Over time, the shop was upgraded to handle repairs for a variety of types of machinery. When the workers left for the final time in the 1960s, they left their machines in place. When the shop was opened to the public 20 years later, it was still amazingly preserved. Today, the shop offers an amazing glimpse into what a mid-century machine shop was like.

Jim Cheney | Special to PennLive

Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine

The Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine is located in Ashland, just a few miles from Centralia. This coal mine was open from 1911 through 1931. When it closed due to the lack of demand during the Depression, mine owners thought it would reopen in a few years and took pains to preserve their investment. However, the next time the mine would be open would be for curious visitors in 1962. Today, visitors can ride a converted coal car into the mine to see what life was like underground.

Jim Cheney | Special to PennLive

Mount Moriah Cemetery

Mount Morah Cemetery opened on the outskirts of Philadelphia in 1855. Over its history, this nearly 400-acre cemetery became the final resting place for between 80,000 and 300,000 people, including the re-interned Betsy Ross. However, money and management issues caused maintenance to fail and the cemetery to fall into disrepair. While a dedicated group of volunteers has worked tirelessly over the last few years to maintain the cemetery, much of the cemetery is still overgrown and makes for a fascinating place to explore.

Jim Cheney | Special to PennLive.com

Want more cool places in Pennsylvania?

Jim Cheney is the writer behind UncoveringPA, Pennsylvania’s most read travel blog. He has traveled to every county in Pennsylvania, and to many countries in North America, Europe, and Asia. He lives in Harrisburg, Pa.