Exploring Centralia, Pennsylvania
by frankensinatra
When I found out I would be taking a trip up to Pennsylvania to shoot a few locations, one of them that immediately popped into my mind was Centralia. For those who don’t know of this place, Centralia is a borough in Columbia County, PA. who in 1962 had a population of around 1,100 and as of now has only 10 residents who refuse to leave. It has been stripped of a zip code, mail does not run, buildings and homes have been demolished and roads now lead off to nowhere, there are no stores, no schools… nothing. It is a ghost town with a few exceptions. So what happened here exactly? Centralia is a coal mining town, and back in 1962 a fire broke out in one of the underground mines. It was believed to have been started from a landfill, which they were burning, that was not fully extinguished and the fire entered into an unsealed opening which lead to the abandoned coal mine beneath.
There have been a few attempts to extinguish it but none even close to successful, there are no current plans to stop it either. The fire is estimated to have now spread over 400 acres to date and has enough fuel to continue burning for another 250 or so years in it’s 8 mile mine. It was the direct inspiration for the Silent Hill video game series, and later the movies. Around town you can see smoke coming up from cracks in the road from the underground fire, it did not come out in the photos but it’s easily seen in the area of the highway which is now closed off and condemned because of sinkholes where the ground is unstable from the fire in the mines below.
The fire has also extended to the town of Byrnesville, PA. and as of 1996 it has been completely abandoned as well.
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