Thursday, April 23, 2009

If you have ever traveled the PA Turnpike towards Pittsburgh, you should be familiar with the Breezewood exit. I was recently reading about the Greyhound Post House that was there for many years.

In 1964 nearly 100 Greyhound trips a day pulled off the turnpike at Breezewood. By 1968, after schedule consolidation, 14 of the 16 westbound trips from NY City–most bound for Pittsburgh and points west–stopped at Breezewood, as did all seven daily westbounds from Baltimore and Washington (plus two extras on weekends). Eastbound, 14 of 15 Pittsburgh-NY City trips and all seven Pittsburgh-Baltimore/Washington runs (one additional on Sundays) pulled into Breezewood. For some trips, Breezewood was the last stop before NY City (a 4-1/2 hour run) and in the opposite direction it was the first scheduled stop after departing Manhattan. In addition there were three Pittsburgh local trips in each direction travelling via Johnstown of which one pair originated and terminated at Breezewood. Altogether 48 daily trips departed from this small PA community. By 1992, the count was down to 15 a day, all but three enroute to or from Baltimore and Washington.

The big attraction at Breezewood was, of course, the Greyhound Post House, the company-owned chain of cafeteries where passengers could grab a snack or eat a hearty meal, all chosen from a Greyhoud menu and consumed on Post House crockery. The Greyhound Post House opened in 1964 replacing three other meal stop locations along the Turnpike, at Brandywine, Midway (Bedford) and Butler. The end came at 11 pm on Sunday June 27, 2004, when the doors closed and were actually locked–possibly for the first time in 41 years. Aramark, a national restaurant operator, took a lease on the Post House in December 1998 and it was expiring on June 30. The property owners wanted to sell the land and buildings and Aramark wasn’t interested. Within days of its closing, movable metal gates barricaded the driveway into the darkened Post House and signs bore a start and unprecedented message: “Keep Out.”


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