Video: The Highway of Tomorrow: The Pennsylvania Turnpike

Yesteryear Travel: The Pennsylvania Turnpike

The "Roads to Romance" travelogue series had a languid theme song and lots of beauty shots of new Chevrolet cars. General Motors paid for these films, which were produced in the late 1940s and early 1950s. They were used as between-show filler on early TV stations, and as shorts in movie theaters.

Most of the roads in these featurettes were just waypoints to romantic destinations, but in this segment the star is the road itself: the newly completed Pennsylvania Turnpike. Did it really add "new zest to your driving pleasure" as this short suggests? In 1951 it probably did.

Among the "vacation thrills" visited by the on-screen family along the Turnpike is a mysterious bubbling lake (Tipster "Wednesday Addams" points out that this is probably Boiling Springs near Carlisle), a statue of Revolutionary War heroine Molly Pitcher, and the obscure Fort Necessity. No mention of the Giant Coffee Pot in Bedford, or any other Roadside-y attraction that superhighways like the Turnpike were built to bypass.

We agree with the narrator that the Turnpike will remain, "one of America's spectacular road building feats," although most of its current drivers probably don't think of it as romantic.

Complete film at

Old Films: Fascinating!

Yesteryear Travel.

The Team has a special appreciation for archival films -- from family home movies to sponsored travel shorts. Senior editor Ken Smith is author of "Mental Hygiene," the definitive book-form history of America's classroom educational and industrial films. He was an archivist and cataloger for Rick Prelinger in the early days of the Prelinger Archives. This film is made available through the Prelinger Archives.

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