There’s more to Pennsylvania than meets the eye; it holds many weird and wonderful secrets that could easily evade you for an entire lifetime here. As a remarkably historic and varied place, the fascinating stories just don’t end. Here are some restricted areas within Pennsylvania that are important, interesting, and bizarre. Have you heard of all seven?
1. California University of Pennsylvania's Body Farm in Tyrone
A Body Farm is the name given to a research facility for forensic anthropology, where human decomposition is studied in open-air laboratories. In 2010, John O'Laughlin donated a large chunk of his 222-acre Grace Lair Farm to the University for this purpose. It is only the fifth body farm in the country and the first in the Northeast: a significant contribution, because climate has an effect on how bodies decompose. As you might imagine, the facility is closed to the public.
2. The Inside of the S.S. United States
The S.S. United States is the country's flagship, which broke the transatlantic speed record in 1952 using only two-thirds of its power. The largest and fastest passenger ship built in the USA, if you stood the S.S. United States on its end, it would be almost as tall as the Crysler Building in New York or the Comcast Building in Philadelphia. During the 1950s and 60s, a variety of celebrities and public figures travelled on the ship, including President Kennedy, President Clinton, Coco Chanel, Grace Kelly, Salvador Dali, Walt Disney, Marilyn Monroe, and more.
Currently, the S.S. United States is docked at Pier 82 in Philadelphia, on the Delaware River. The ship is under care of the
SS United States Conservancy
, a nonprofit organization that hopes to raise enough funds to preserve and restore the ship (otherwise they will be forced to sell it to a metals recycler, which would be a darned shame). Because the S.S. United States is docked at a working pier, access is restricted and only certain media members and financial supporters can visit the ship.
3. Raven Rock Mountain Complex
During the Cold War, the threat of nuclear war loomed on the world horizon, and President Truman thought it wise to construct a top secret underground facility that could house government operations in a worst-case scenario. Also known as Site R and the Underground Pentagon, the Raven Rock complex was built into the limestone near Blue Ridge Summit to serve as a replacement Pentagon, in case the original were compromised. In an emergency, the complex could accommodate 3,000 people; it includes not only government and military offices, but a medical and dental clinic, fire department, post office, chapel, and dormitories. For years, the location of Site R was shrouded in mystery. During the Cold War, a great deal of Soviet intelligence aimed to discover its location. Now, it is known to the public. No tours are available, but it does have its own
4. Restricted Areas within the State Capitol Building
The Pennsylvania State Capitol building is a truly distinctive building, standing as one of the best examples of its architectural style in the country. On a guided tour of the capitol, you will hear about its marvelous history and see much of its splendor; however, there are many rooms and areas that the
public doesn't ever get to witness firsthand
. Examples of these include the Treasury Vault, a hidden passage that circles the Rotunda, an underground complex of tunnels connecting all of the capitol buildings, the Senate dining room, and more.
5. Iron Mountain
Underneath a nondescript field in Boyers, Pennsylvania, lies a miles-long storage facility in an old limestone mine 220 feet below the Earth's surface. The facility has top-notch security, boasting a spotless record for security breaches. Its number one client is the United States government, which houses expansive bureaucratic offices here, as well as priceless artifacts. Some of the things in storage here are the remains of Flight 93, original records of Elvis, and iconic photographs of Marilyn Monroe, Albert Einstein, and more.
6. Chip Ganassi Racing's Laurel Hill Tunnel
What makes this location so strange is that it not only used to be public, but was once part of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. In 1964, the Turnpike was realigned and three tunnels were bypassed; two of them are now well-known abandoned places, while Laurel Hill Tunnel was dedicated to a much more intriguing use. Today, it is sealed up and used for straight-line testing of race cars. Construction of the facility was completed in 2003, and rumors about it began to surface in 2004, when it was used to develop the G-Force IndyCar. Today, its existence is still shrouded by plenty of rumors and speculation, though passers-by can often hear the roaring sound of race cars within the tunnel.
7. Rosicrucian Pyramids in Quakertown
The Rosicrucians are a mystical cult-like order that originally surfaced in Germany during the 1600s; they showed up in America first near Philadelphia, but vestiges of the order can be found throughout Pennsylvania. Linked with the Masonic order, today the organization wields little power, yet still remains a presence in the area. Many passers-by in Quakertown have noticed these mysterious pyramids, but few have ever been allowed onto the property to explore further, much less see inside the pyramids. Trespassers are turned away and sometimes prosecuted.
Anything you would add to this list? Have any cool stories from any of these places? Share your stories below.