US Route 6 Roadside rest

August 22, 2022

I grew up in a simpler time when phones stayed at home, families were large, tv was black & white and fast food was a luxury to be had once or twice a year (usually to placate the restless mass of children during the annual Christmas shopping expedition). Whether it was a cross country trek or a day trip to visit grandparents, lunches while traveling were in the form of picnics.

All of these memories came flooding back recently when I stopped to check out a sign along Route 6 near Mt Jewett, PA (GPS: 41.718412, -78.610800). I'd passed the site various times over the years but today I was running ahead of schedule and decided to check it out instead of having lunch somewhere.

I could see from the road that there was a pavilion & a picnic table but I wasn't prepared for what I found once I got out of the car.

Route 6 is a historic highway and, as one of the first interstates, it opened during an era when roadside rest areas were less oriented to bathroom breaks and more toward "stretch your legs and have a picnic".

It was also an era when prepared lunchmeats on picnics were less common than leftovers or having a barbeque right there along the road.

As I walked around the site, I found 4 stone barbeque pits complete with picnic tables that were rapidly returning to the soil. One of the fireplaces was filled with kindling so it might be that someone still uses them (and you certainly could) but It's more likely that it was just a good place to pile the fallen branches when the maintenance crew last cleaned up.

I also found it interesting that there was a child seat built into the end of one of the tables. I don't recall seeing these as a child but I do recall kneeling on a bench so I could easily reach the table. That's something I'll have to ask my parents about as I did have 3 younger siblings so perhaps they were loaded on the end if there was a child-friendly seat available there.

This particular roadside rest area was pretty well maintained and I am glad that they did not remove the old tables as they rotted beyond usefulness. I'm quite sure nobody would attempt to use them today and the combination of the silent, dilapidated tables and the unused, mossy fireplaces made the discovery of each special in a way that made me want to shout "hey, here's another one!" and have the kids running over to check it out.

As it was, there were no kids on this trip so telling you will have to suffice. If you get past Mt Jewett someday, stop and check it out. In the meantime, I'll have to watch more closely when I'm travelling the old interstates. I'm quite sure there are more of these to discover.