Abandoned roads seem like something a lot of people don't give a second thought about. But infrastructure is always changing, updating, increasing, becoming more efficient. New highways are being built every day, replacing old highways, old roads, old bridges, routes that just aren't as efficient as the modern standard for locomotion. What's left behind are abandoned ribbons of asphalt carved through the landscape, where nature and disrepair can start to overtake the pavement. Cracks show, plants grow and the forest returns. It makes for a surprisingly breathtaking scene, almost dystopian, post-apocalyptic, yet still idyllic, especially when the beauty of nature is showcased, effortlessly and relentlessly returning and dissolving what was once dominated by mankind.
In the US, there are a large number of abandoned roads and highways scattered across the nation, from the East Coast to the West Coast. Sometimes it's an entire section of the freeway, sometimes it's an old two-lane highway that just didn't cut it anymore, replaced by a bigger, newer road that follows a more efficient route. There's a lot of stunningly beautiful places in the US, where wilderness still rules as king, and these roads no longer traveled don't stand a chance against mother nature. The end result is roads across the country that have long been forgotten and are quickly being overtaken and erased by the inevitability of time.
It makes for a great picture, honestly, so let's take a look at some of the best pictures documenting this phenomenon. Here's 20 pictures of US roads that were completely left behind.
20 Six Lanes And A Dead Stop
This highway was abandoned even before it was finished, off in the distance it's easy to see that the pavement just abruptly stops, mid curve of what would have been a very big highway.
This particular abandoned US road is in fact the Schuylkill-Parkway, found near Bridgeport, Pennsylvania.
It was clearly never finished, and left to be abandoned and taken over by weather, nature and time. Entropy teaches us that this highway will soon be broken and decayed, yet we can't ignore that life will have taken its place. So then, is it entropy?
19 Brand New Earth
I think it's pretty clear that this road is closed. In fact, there isn't even a road anywhere in the picture, not in sight. The only evidence that there was even a road is the "Road Closed" sign buried in fresh lava.
This road is found, or rather, not found, in Hawaii, where lava flows fairly often cover over paved roads, making them impassable, and hence are left to be abandoned. If there's any reason to close a road, this is definitely one of the coolest. It goes to show you can't get in the way of progress, no matter how hard you try.
18 Cracking And Coated In Art
This is a pretty old abandoned road, the state of the asphalt is pretty clear that it's getting up there in age, soon plants will be able to grow in between these cracks, and then a forest, and then there will be scant remains of a road ever having been paved here.
This abandoned US highway is actually forgotten Route 61, here heading through Centralia, Pennsylvania.
This destination has seen quite a large amount of graffiti since it's abandonment, and it actually looks pretty cool. It reminds me of making sidewalk art outside the house as a child. How fun would it be to do that on an abandoned highway.
17 Taken Over By Water And The Weather
If there's anything to know about Michigan, it's that the weather is pretty extreme. The summers are nice, but the winters are extremely cold, humid, and extremely snowy. The extreme climate leads to the decay of abandoned things at a faster rate than a lot of other places in the world.
The evidence is clear with this abandoned road. This is the Bayshore Road Bridge, found in Newport, Michigan, and it has most assuredly seen better days. The cement bones still stand, but everything else has gone to waste, the bridge no longer even connects back to land.
16 Dilapidated Fissures
This striking photo of an abandoned US highway in disrepair once again comes to us from Centralia, Pennsylvania. It's the same fatefully abandoned Route 61, here in a place where nature has taken a more active role in the reclamation of the highway.
The land has shifted, causing huge fissures, and further along the route vegetation has started to take root in the cracks. It's really beautiful, in a sort of melancholic yet fatefully exuberant way. I personally find a lot of fascination with abandoned things, especially out in nature. Ghosts of a forgotten era, yet nature thrives in the absence.
15 California Forgotten
This is the Carquinez scenic drive in California, and since this US road is completely abandoned, it's not really a drive a lot of people take, more of a scenic walk, if anything else.
The road has had a hard time staying in acceptable shape. This cracks have been sealed before, and it hasn't worked. It might be in part why this route became abandoned. Since its abandonment, though, that disrepair has only greatly increased, becoming more rapid without upkeep. This is the kind of highway that would be really fun to ride a road bike on for the length of it. Nobody else on the roads. Nice.
14 Vegetative Takeover
There aren't a lot of roads in the US that would get as overtaken as quickly as this highway did. This is the Old US 50, found west of Washington, Indiana, where the weather and the moisture means that foliage can quickly take root and start taking over the concrete, in a really lush and spectacular way.
This is a stunning example of how nature reclaims everything it can, and how when humans leave places alone, they can actually heal and thrive once more.
If this highway was constantly used, the foliage would be held at bay, and the forest would suffer at least to a certain extent.
13 Reforested Bridge
Found out in the forests of Milford, Pennsylvania, this bridge is no longer in use, abandoned and forgotten, perhaps because a bigger, better bridge was built, or perhaps because it has become unsafe due to neglect, a lack of traffic and use, perhaps. Slowly it lies, rusting and waiting for the day it collapses completely.
The trees have already enshrouded it, foliage and branches reaching in between crossbeams and lattices in the ever continuous search for the real estate with the most sunshine. This would be a pretty fun place to explore, even to just go down to the river underneath.
12 Edge Of The Sea
This is a very abrupt end to an abandoned road. Whether the road was abandoned first, and the neglect and lack of maintenance made it collapse, or if it was abandoned and forgotten because of the collapse of the road, the end result is the same; a jagged edge of a road that brushes up right against the waves, only a few hundred feet below.
This dilapidated abandoned highway can be found near Costal, Daly City, California. Like the scenic drive featured at number fifteen, this would be another spectacular bike ride, with all the ease of the asphalt and none of the worry of traffic.
11 Autumn Takeover
The dense forests of New York state no doubt cover over a lot of man-made infrastructure and evidence every time they dump their leaves in the fall. That is definitely the case with this wide forest road abandoned near Pomona, New York.
The rocks were no doubt placed in front of the road to block cars from continuing to use it, but the foliage has had a solid start in on the tarmac, and the majority of it is covered over completely by leaves. Those leaves don't have to sit there for very many seasons before they start to compost and decay, turning into new soil.
10 Abandoned, Endless Bridge
This abandoned bridge is no longer in use, despite its massive size. It became outmoded, no longer needed for use because a new highway has replaced it.
This is the Old US 62 Pony Truss Bridge, found near Jackson, Oklahoma.
With the lack of use, the bridge has become somewhat forgotten, abandoned, and left to rust and age in silence, undisturbed. The magnitude and sheer size of the bridge means that it will be a long time before this bridge begins to actually fall apart, and even longer until it disappears completely. It hasn't shown many signs of decay so far.
9 Old Route 66
This picture of the old Route 66 was taken near the ghost town of Phelps, Missouri, an unincorporated community still lives there, but the road is abandoned, no longer maintained or used.
It's fascinating to think that roads are a lot like rivers. Communities set up their homes near roads and highways because they know that the travelers of those roads will provide them with constant revenue. Constant, of course, being the idea in question. We know all too well at this point in the article that roads are often forgotten, outmoded, replaced, and abandoned. Which leaves these towns high and dry.
8 Barely Any Evidence Left
Sometimes roads are built in the most unforgiving of places, often times where they're needed the most. The hard part about that is it takes an extraordinary amount of maintenance and care to keep those roads in operable and drivable condition. As soon as maintenance stops, the road is as good as abandoned.
That is exactly what happened to this highway, the lost Old US 9 Timber Stringer Bridge, somewhere in Orange County, California. All that remains of this bridge is a few rotting timbers. Soon those will be gone, too. So are the ways of the inevitability of time.
7 Single Track Fading Out
This road has submitted itself to the inevitable hand of time, decay, and reclamation. Slowly, this road will fade, more and more each season, until it's completely taken over and virtually all evidence of it's existence is lost. The path it takes may always remain, yet the road itself will no longer exist.
Found somewhere near Lawrence, Indiana, this abandoned US road is pretty and picturesque, especially with all the green foliage beginning it's transformation into senescence and beautiful fall colors. This road very well might just become a scenic hiking trail, which isn't unheard of.
6 Thick Painted Lines
This wide banked highway curve coated in an assortment of painted lines is really cool looking. Found near Lehigh Acres in Florida, this relatively recently abandoned road is most distinctly characterized by the random assortment of painted lines across it.
It was likely used as practice for line painting on roads in use but the end result is a very artistic looking road. I like it a lot, actually, and I think it would be really cool if more roads looked like this. Why not, right? Let's get creative with our highways! Double yellows are so boring.
5 Expansive Bridge Left Behind
Above the natural levels of vegetation, the abandoned bridge itself has its remaining asphalt still remarkably in tact. Yet, in the foreground, we see that the road has debated much more, with vegetation, dirt, and grass growing thick. It doesn't really seem like there's much of a road there at all anymore, just natural landscape. Yet the bridge remains preserved, with a center-line still visible and a relatively unobstructed run.
This abandoned road and bridge can be found in Sims Bayou, near Houston, Texas. If I needed some space to think, I think this would be a pretty great place.
4 Abandoned Mid-Construction
This abandoned US highway can be found in Shainline, near Upper Marion, Pennsylvania, and it's clear that even before it's completion, the project was abandoned. What was left behind is a half finished highway standing, bare, covered with concrete construction barriers, facing the elements, neglect, and the ceaseless movement of time and progress.
Made of highway concrete, it will be a significant amount of time before this road is completely taken over by nature, but it's already on it's way there. Slowly but surely. This would be a pretty sick place for a music video.
3 Road Like A Canyon
Found in the vast and dense forests of New York State, this severely neglected and abandoned highway has very quickly started to be overtaken by nature. It's always a beautiful thing to witness, the persistence of nature against man-made things. Closest to Bridgeville, Thompson, New York, this road is clearly still drivable, though it's no longer in a good enough state for highway speeds, like it was no doubt originally intended for.
It'll still be quite a while yet before the forest takes back over, but in the meantime, there will stand a strangely long, straight meadow.
2 An Implied Road
This US road was abandoned long ago, many years before there used to be an actual road through the forest, and into the mountainside, where long before a tunnel was either carved or blasted, and the road ran right through it. No more is there a road, only a grassy area in line through the forest, leading to a mysterious concrete cave.
This old road once ran near Morgan, West Virginia, now all that remains of it is a hiking trail at best.
Nature has successfully reclaimed the road, and if that tunnel always remains, at the very least the creatures of the forest will use it well.
1 Lost In Desert Scrublands
This old dirt road has been closed for restoration. The fact that it's dirt and not asphalt means that restoration will probably happen rather quickly, even though it is the desert. Without maintenance, one summer storm could wash out entire sections of the road, and winds will cause dirt to begin to erode and become uneven.
Soon, scrubby plants and wildlife will make the road all their own again, erasing the small track completely. This abandoned US road is found near Clark, Nevada.
As an omen of the restoration to come, a small tumbleweed has taken root right below the sign.
Sources: messynessychic.com, flickr.com