States traversed: New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee
Interstate 81 runs from the Canadian border near the northeast corner of Lake Ontario, south through upstate New York to Scranton, Pennsylvania, where the highway turns southwesterly along the east flank of the Appalachians until northeastern Tennessee. Ontario Highway 137 descends southerly from Ontario Highway 401, the foremost freeway of the province, to a border crossing just a few miles to the south, on the Thousand Islands of Lake Ontario. That border crossing is the northern end of Interstate 81. From there, Interstate 81 heads south through Watertown, Syracuse, and Binghamton in Upstate New York. It heads south to the vicinity of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre in Pennsylvania, where Interstate 81 bends toward the southwest. Interstate 81 passes through Harrisburg before exiting Pennsylvania. Next, it spends eleven miles in the chewed-up shred of western Maryland, and twenty-five miles in the eastern arm of West Virginia. Then, it's onward to Winchester, Virginia. In Virginia, Interstate 81 generally flanks the eastern edge of the Appalachians, passing through Staunton, Roanoke, and Wytheville to Bristol, a city with parts in both southwestern Virginia and northeastern Tennessee. Interstate 81 continues through the Tri-Cities area of northeastern Tennessee, ending at Interstate 40 near Dandridge, east of Knoxville, Tennessee. The entire Interstate 81 corridor runs alongside the previously-established route of US Route 11, up until the end of that Interstate. The US Route 11 continues southwest, with Interstate 59 and portions of Interstate 75 hanging on to the remainder of US Route 11's length.
My photo of an Interstate 81 marker comes from Wytheville, Virginia, along a north-south section of US Route 52. The sign assembly shown, as massive and disorganized as it is, faces south down US Route 52, on the south side of the interchange. The freeway at said interchange runs east-west, carrying a wrong-way concurrency between Interstate 81 and Interstate 77. Eastbound travel on the freeway leads to Interstate 77 south and Interstate 81 north; westbound travel on the freeway leads to Interstate 77 north and Interstate 81 south. The sign assembly tells northbound traffic on US Route 52 where to find the upcoming eastbound onramp. This photo was taken along part of the Virginia trip of April, 2021. Back to the nationwide main page. Back to the home page.