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Floyd B. Wilson - OutdoorPlaces.Com

Floyd B. Wilson On Driving In Pennsylvania


Well after a long vacation Floyd is back and brimming with his view of the world.  This week, Floyd goes on a rant about driving in Pennsylvania.  Don't get us wrong, we think Pennsylvania is a great state, it's just that when your driving on roads that have been around 400 years, and the original architects were cows or horses on old carriage paths, well I think you get the idea.

Driving In Pennsylvania

Our great country has an interesting history.  When you get around the major cities of the east coast, you start traveling in some strange areas.  Boston, New York, Philadelphia have all been around for hundreds of years and the tangle of old cow paths and carriage roads have gone through little change.  Sure, sure, if George Washington wanted to get to New York today he would take Interstate 95 and would probably shudder at some of the things he saw on the way, but that is not what I am here to rant about.

What is with Pennsylvania (and New Jersey for that matter) on two issues that just really chaps my hide.  One, there are no signs for anything anywhere, and two, how can a town have three streets, all in unique locations and in no way connected, yet have the same name.  Navigating these roads is in a word a nightmare.  Sure 350 years ago these twisting turning carriage roads were the links between towns, but it's the 21st century, we need some signs!

Case in point, drive along the Pennsylvania Turnpike heading west toward Harrisburg.  When you come to the exit you get off to access French Creek State Park you think there would be some brown sign, nooooooooo.  Nothing, nada, zip, if I hadn't been paying attention, we would be in Ohio still looking for the place.  Now sure, you can build a case on it's too far from the Turnpike, but what about when you get closer to the park, they don't even have a, "welcome to the park," sign.

As we twisted and turned through these old carriage roads, not ideally setup for modern vehicles (but wonderfully beautiful) we found that they not only bend in mysterious ways, but crisscross each other.  Just when you think your going the right way, BAM the road becomes something else, and is moving into another direction, which brings me to my second rant.

How can it be possible that a town can have three streets, not connected in anyway, and they are all named the same thing.  No, no, no, I'm not talking about North Jones Street, Jones Street, and South Jones Street, I mean they are all Jones Street and they don't even connect.  Pull up to 353 Jones Street and knock on the door, "who the heck are you."

"I'm Floyd B. Wilson ma'am."


"Isn't this 353 Jones Street."

"Well yes, who are you looking for."

"My third cousin Mark B. Wilson."

"Ooooohhh, you need the other Jones Street."

The other Jones Street?  What do you do with a 911 phone call?  Does the dispatcher look out the window to see which Jones Street has the house on fire?  I understand how this started, once upon a time Jones Street was all one street and it was a vital carriage road leading to Philadelphia.  Over time sections got cut out and we just never got around renaming the separate bits, or maybe we were afraid that Elias Wentworth Jones will roll around in his grave because the street after his namesake suddenly becomes no more.

I understand that we need to preserve history, and I also understand that a bunch of signs can mar the landscape.  But the Pennsylvania Turnpike is covered with billboards for so called Gentlemen Clubs all outside of Philadelphia, does a little brown sign that says State Park this way cause so much trouble?  I was actually wondering if this was a strange test.  French Creek State Park is considered the orienteering capital of North America, if in some strange twisted sense of humor if you can't find the park, you can't hike there simply because your not qualified.  Isn't that like running an ad that says, "psychic class at 7:00 PM," but not putting an address or day.  If they show up they qualify!

This problem seems to be unique to the mid-Atlantic region that was part of the Union during the revolutionary war (how is that for specific).  Boston, Hartford and Providence have their quirks but all have undergone major restoration projects.  Richmond and Atlanta as well as other southern cities were burned to the ground less than 150 years ago and completely redone.  The west has only been developed over the last 150 years and Washington D.C. was a master planned city.  Our forefathers must have been tired of getting lost on the winding carriage roads outside of Philadelphia, and probably thought the street design was so poor outside of the city, they would just move somewhere else and start over.  Don't get me wrong, downtown Philadelphia is brilliantly laid out, and Ben Franklin would be proud, but I think old Ben would have beat me to this rant if he were alive today to see outside the city. 

I guess that is just part of the challenge of getting to the great outdoors.  Finding that unnamed road, or the named road without the sign, or just figuring out which Jones Road to get on.  If you see my cousin Mark out in central Pennsylvania, please let them know that Floyd did try to find the house, and Ms. Marcia Hartwell-Crusky on the "other" Jones Road has three UPS packages, a certified letter, and your IRS refund check from 1994 over at her house.  You should give her a call, but be careful, her street doesn't have a sign.



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