It was nicknamed America’s Greatest Highway. From the start it was considered the standard of highway innovation, and it has paved the way for American commerce ever since.

This past month marks the 85th birthday of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and it’s considered America’s First Super Highway.

“Nobody had experienced anything like it — an unbroken ribbon of concrete cutting through mountains and across valleys, bypassing towns. No stop signs, no intersections, no speed limits. The PA Turnpike received nationwide acclaim as an engineering marvel during its development in the late 1930’s as America’s first four-lane, limited-access highway,” according to Pennsylvania Turnpike News.

It is now considered the grandfather of all United States Interstates. It became the country’s supreme standard for future superhighways, with its completion a full sixteen years prior to the first U.S. interstate highway system’ completion.

Accomplishing the construction of PA Turnpike was a mountaintop moment for developers: Literally. It was designed to cut through the beautiful Pennsylvania mountainside, with early photos showing the superhuman efforts at blasting and paving the highway. 

The highway helped feed American families even from the very beginning: As part of the initiative, families that were struggling during the Great Depression were employed to help build the highway. 

Early construction toward a railroad system helped expedite the construction, with nine tunnels that were blasted through seven mountains. Part of the efforts in its construction were to support the state’s first all-weather highway. 

The gargantuan efforts involved were rewarded! At the time, there were almost no other highway systems to parallel it in the world– Germany’s famous Autobahn was one of the few in its class.

And its opening day brought visitors from across the nation, “A lot of folks all over the country came to see it. It was an attraction not only to get you from place-to-place, but it was just so new,” those in attendance at its groundbreaking recounted, according to WTIF.

The original founders could hardly have imagined the rapid growth that the PA turnpike would experience: It now spans more than 550 miles, which is triple its original length. 

It continues to facilitate innovative transportation: From last mile delivery to serving as the genesis of important sectors of the economy, “with a modern-day mission to operate a safe, reliable, customer-valued toll road system that supports national mobility and commerce,” PA Turnpike News continues.

Today, America’s superhighways are more than 40,000 miles of asphalt river that carry goods and essential services to the country, and it was Pennsylvania’s transportation system that led the way. At Blue Eagle we’re proud of our state’s history as a transportation innovation hub. We look forward to the next generation of progress that will further pave the way to facilitate our mission to: Helping Freight Forwarders move the freight important in people’s lives the final mile in Pennsylvania!