The Midway Service Plazas
Another Interesting Feature of the Pennsylvania Turnpike....

The list can get quite lengthy.  The list of unique features the grandfather of modern highways in the United States has.   Numerous tunnels, abandoned tunnels and roadways in Bedford, Fulton and Westmoreland Counties, St. John's Church in New Baltimore, the stone faced service plazas and breathtaking scenery.  One set of service plazas located near the Bedford Interchange may be one of the most fascinating.  It is the Midway (North and South) Service Plazas.  The plazas are named "Midway" as they are located at what once was the halfway point of the original 160 mile toll road.  Midway South features a two-story stone faced building.  Midway North is a small one-story facility.

What makes these service plazas more unique is that a tunnel connects the two buildings.  This tunnel, closed to travelers and the general public, runs underneath the turnpike and is used for storage space.  The tunnel is no longer accessible to the original tunnel entrance at North Midway as the current restroom facilities are now above it.  The tunnels were in fact at one time open to the traveling public.  As late as the mid-sixties (1), Tom Hoffman crossed underneath the turnpike via the tunnel.  Below, John Bibber has included some photos of the tunnel.

(Editor's Note: It is strongly urged to NOT ask employees or management of either facility to see the tunnels or second floor of the South Midway Plaza.  These are restricted areas.)


The Interior of the Midway Service Tunnel.  (John Bibber)


Underneath the former entrance to the North Midway Plaza.  You can see the location of the original stairway.  (John Bibber)


 This appears to be a current meeting facility or break room on the second floor of the South Midway Plaza.  (John Bibber)

The Plazas, former homes of Esso Gas and Howard Johnson Restaurants, have undergone numerous modernizations.  However, when pulling into either location, the feel of the 1940's Turnpike still exists.  Both are quaint intimate facilities that combine history and the convenience and speed necessary for the modern day traveler.  In fact, not much in the outside cosmetics of the two-story South Plaza has changed when this photo of a young Mike Austing and his family was taken in the Summer of 1951.


Site Navigation:

  • The PA Turnpike at PA Road Pics Index
  • Breezewood in The Fall, The Abandoned PA Turnpike as seen by Bernie Newman
  • Holy Turnpike! St. John's Church in New Baltimore
  • The Abandoned Tunnels circa 1981/82
  • Quemahoning Tunnel
  • Original New Stanton Interchange Ramps
  • Lehigh Tunnel Construction 1989-1991
  • Vintage PA Turnpike Photo Collection
  • Sources & Links:

  • Mike Austing
  • John Bibber
  • (1) Hoffman, Tom. 'Re: Midway Service Plazas Page Online.' Personal e-mail, July 20, 2002.
  • PA Turnpike History @ PAHighways.com ---Jeff Kitsko
  • Pennsylvania Turnpike ---Joseph Topinka
  • Official PA Turnpike Webpage

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    Background Image: Entrance to North Midway Service Plaza, July 2002 taken by Adam Prince.

    Page Created: July 20, 2002
    Last Updated: September 28, 2003

    (C) 2002-03 Adam Prince