The Road to Nowhere

The Road to Nowhere. If you are older than 25 and a native of Berks County you have likely heard the phrase. It was used to refer to a stretch of road that literally went nowhere, until slowly over the course of a few decades was added onto and connected to other major roadways.

Left- original Right– Today (click to enlarge)

It was originally built in 1962 as a small drag strip piece of road, spanning maybe three quarters of a mile between the intersection of Van Reed Rd/Paper Mill Road and north over the Tulpehocken Creek to Blessing Lane. It appears there was a bridge on Paper Mill Road that crossed over the then newly constructed Road to Nowhere. (pictured above). This bridge no longer exists. If you look closely on Google Maps you can see old sections of Van Reed road in the wooded areas parallel to the current Van Reed Road. It appears from the comparison photos that the entire southern end of the original Road to nowhere is now the Paper Mill Road Off-ramp, Turkey Hill and surrounding wooded area.

In 1968 they expanded northward further toward Route 183 and on to Muhlenberg Township, making a connection to 222 north to Allentown.

Until later construction was started, the Road to Nowhere abruptly ended at this white fence. The entire stretch beyond the barrier is what stood virtually unused for many years and acquired the nickname, the Road to Nowhere – Eagle Photos by Edward G. Schneider – July 1968 Reading Eagle
The Road to Nowhere from Rt. 183 south toward where it dead ended around Van Reed Road in 1971
new stretch north in 1968, also an angled view of the mystery Paper Mill Road Bridge

Further work stalled until the 90s. It took until 1999 for the southern dead end of the Road to Nowhere pictured above to be connected eastward over to the Warren Street Bypass/422 interchange. It was around that time the neighboring land that became Broadcasting Square Shopping Center was sold and planned for redevelopment. Then it reached its final form in 2006 as 222 south between 422 and 724 was finished, making it possible to get all the way to Lancaster from Allentown on Route 222.

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WEEU Broadcasting Towers – Broadcast Road

Towers in 1958

Before the shopping center called Broadcasting Square occupied the space between Broadcasting Road and Van Reed Road on Paper Mill Road, there was sprawling farm land a tall radio towers. The towers and land belonged to WEEU and were used to broadcast the AM radio station far and wide.

WEEU had it’s first broadcast on New Years Day 1932. According to WEEU’s website, “That business, then, was the Reading Broadcasting Company. The station’s transmitter building was located between Paper Mill and Van Reed roads on what was then called Broadcast Road. Next to the building were two 200-foot towers that supported a 500-foot antenna that was strung between them.”
At some point between the 1930s and the above photo in 1958, two more towers were added.

Aerial from 1971. Middle is broadcasting towers. Top left Road to Nowhere can be seen after it extended north toward Muhlenberg. (Click to enlarge)

From the 1958 & 1971 aerial photographs it appears there were four towers and a small structure, all sitting approximately between the strip mall portion that currently houses a Chipotle and Panera all the way over to the stand-alone Wendy’s.

In 1999, WEEU started transmitting out of a new cluster of towers off Route 78 near Shartlesville. This allowed them to sell the land between Broadcasting, Paper Mill and Van Reed Roads. It was purchased, redeveloped and Broadcasting Square Shopping Center opened in 2001.

WEEU is currently a subsidiary of the Reading Eagle Company, which has recently declared bankruptcy and is in the process of being bought by a venture company. The future of the AM radio station is uncertain.

UPDATE: WEEU is set to go off the air sometime this summer as a result of MediaNews purchase of the Reading Eagle Company, unless someone buys it’s FCC license.

Earl Building – 523/525 Penn St

Earl Building in Reading, Pa., 1890, 2002251_2_076, Box 1, Folder 2, Warren-Ehret Company photograph albums (Accession 2002.251), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807

The M. J. Earl Building pictured around the turn of the 20th century at 523/525 Penn Street in Reading. It appears there were a few offices inside. One was home to an office of Prudential Insurance, ran by J.S. DeHart. It appears there was also a Cigar manufacturer and a Fur Hat store. The rest was a part of the M.J. Earl company. According to their website, the M.J. Earl INC,

“Founded in 1842, MJ Earl Inc. was in the paper business when toilets were outhouses and printers were presses.
First situated in downtown Reading, Pennsylvania, MJ Earl has since relocated to the Greater Reading region, and serves a multitude of businesses from Harrisburg to the Delaware Valley.” –
http://www.mjearl.com/

Apparently they are still a local company, now residing on Pottsville Pike.

The words on the facia of the building boasted;

RETAIL, MANUFACTURER, JOBBER
BAGS, ENVELOPES, ROPE
PAPER, WALL PAPER, PAPER

The Earl building in 2019

Is it me or can you still see the faint outline of the word “EARL” on the facia?

On this Day – May 1st, 1973

Above the fold in the May 1st, 1973 Reading Eagle (click to enlarge)
Pee Wee Wallace in the Alabamian Vega Gets a slight jump on the Hill Brothers car Sunday at Maple Grove Dragway where eight funny cars competed in the annual Spring All-Pro Series of drag racing. Pete Hill had to shut off on this final run and Wallace sped to victory, his first in three years at Maple Grove. -Reading Eagle
Joseph A. Leiendecker, state game protector, helps Thomas C. Laucer and Danielle J. Drewett, both kindergarten pupils at Whitfield Elementary School, plant a crimson king maple tree on the school grounds. Looking on are Mrs. Richard E. Woodward, left, committee chairman, and Mrs. Robert E. Frederick, comittee member, both of the Whitfield Woman’s club which sponsored the tree planting Monday in observance of Arbor Day. – Eagle Photo
The current furniture trend
What’s in the theatre’s?