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Susquehanna Life

A Little-Known Ghost Town: The Town of Lausanne

The town of Lausanne, a thriving coal and railroad town in the late 1700s to early 1800s, is now being reclaimed by nature, forgotten in the woods near Jim Thorpe, Pa. Even some natives of the area don’t know about it.

Before it was a forgotten ghost town there were plans for the expansion of Lausanne. But those plans were never set forth. The price set to sell the land was too high for the potential buyer, especially considering the town was already failing as the railroads started to boom elsewhere. The area was also plagued by floods, and was not the best place to rebuild or expand.

Ruins still exist today and can be seen on an adventurous hike. The trails in the area are nicely worn once you get here; it is said that the wide worn trail was once Stagecoach Road. There are at least five ruins in this area. Exploring the ruins can be venturesome. Some walls have crumbled inward and trees are growing what was once the inside of homes. Be careful.

It is bittersweet to witness this town’s decay, considering few people know it exists. There is very little vandalism but where there was once a progressing town where families tried to establish a living, is now letting nature reclaim peacefully.

If You Go

Park along Rt. 209. There is room for three cars. Coordinates for parking: N 40° 52.331 W 075° 45.628. There is a slightly worn entrance at the end of the parking area. Hike through dense vegetation—mostly ferns and trees—to get down to the railroad tracks. At the railroad tracks, go left; be sure to mark the area you came out of with a tie on a tree. 

As you hike along the railroad tracks, you will pass a small building on the left. Go past that building and keep following the railroad tracks. You will eventually find a worn trail on the right that will lead you to the pipe bridge. 

The trail before the bridge is surrounded by a thick stand of rhododendrons. Walk across the stream using the bridge-like structure—a large solid sturdy pipe about seven feet above the stream. 

You will eventually be led onto a wide worn trail, supposedly once Stagecoach Road. This trail will lead you to most of the ruins. This trail will curve left at one point, but if you keep walking on the less worn trail, you will find one more ruin at the foot of the mountain. If you keep walking on the worn trail along the base of the mountain, you can see the layout of the town. If you cross that stream, you will be led to two more ruins, one is more intact than the others, with all four walls still standing.

And An Abandoned Highway

The Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike is the common name of a 13-mile stretch of the Pennsylvania Turnpike that was bypassed in 1968 when a modern stretch opened to ease traffic congestion in the tunnels. The Sideling Hill Tunnel and Rays Hill Tunnel were bypassed, as was one of the Turnpike's travel plazas. The bypass is located just east of the heavily congested Breezewood interchange for Interstate 70 (I-70) eastbound at what is now I-76 exit 161. The section of the turnpike was at one time part of the South Pennsylvania Railroad.

If you go

The Abandoned Turnpike is a popular tourist attraction. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) sold most of the property to the Southern Alleghenies Conservancy (SAC) for $1 in 2001. The property is managed by Friends of the Pike 2 Bike, a coalition of non-profit groups (including the SAC) to eventually convert the stretch into a bike trail. The property is officially closed to the public, and no motor vehicles are allowed on the property, but bicycle riders are free to use it at their own risk. The trail requires helmets and lights. Because this stretch sits on parts of the former right-of-way of the South Pennsylvania Railroad that was never completed, but later formed the basis of the mainline turnpike, this makes the Pike2Bike unofficially a rail trail.

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