Turn Hole (Glen Onoko) Tunnel
Posted by: Grunriese
N 40° 52.940 W 075° 45.740
18T E 435772 N 4525974
Quick Description: Abandoned railroad tunnel leading to the Lehigh River Gorge near Jim Thorpe, PA.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 7/27/2011 8:50:01 PM
Waymark Code: WMC5EM
The Turn Hole Tunnel (also known as the Glen Onoko Tunnel) is an abandoned railroad tunnel near Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. Built by the Central Railroad of New Jersey, it carried part of that railroad's main line until 1912, and was used as part of a passing siding for several decades thereafter. It is now an attraction in Lehigh Gorge State Park.
The tunnel takes its name from the "Turn Hole" in the Lehigh River, a deep eddy where the river makes a turn at the base of a high cliff, known as Moyer's Rock. When the Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad (a subsidiary of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company) extended its line from White Haven to Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe) in 1866, it crossed the Lehigh River at the Turn Hole and tunneled 900 feet (270 m) through the face of the cliff, proceeding southward through the gorge. The parallel line of the Lehigh Valley Railroad crossed the river just to the west, but swung around the point of Moyer's Rock instead of tunneling. The Lehigh and Susquehanna was leased to the Central Railroad of New Jersey in 1871.
The tunnel carried two tracks of the CNJ main line until about 1910, when it was condemned. The railroad began contracting to bypass it in 1911, grading a new alignment parallel with the Lehigh Valley. The new alignment was opened in 1912, but the two tracks in the tunnel and over the old bridge were kept intact as a passing siding until the 1950s, when they were abandoned.
The CNJ main line through Lehigh Gorge was abandoned in late 1964. While most of it has become the Lehigh Gorge Trail, the new alignment around Turn Hole Tunnel was paved as an access road to the Glen Onoko trail head of Lehigh Gorge State Park. The tunnel remains largely intact, with ties from the double track remaining in situ, occasionally covered by rockfall. At the north portal, overlooking the river, a safety railing has been built across the tunnel. The piers of the old bridge still stand in the river.
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