Sunday, August 07, 2011

RoadTrip to Centralia

While the girls enjoyed Knoebels, I took a little roadtrip to the moonscape of Centralia. This small coal mining town's demise started in May 1962, when the story is the dump next to the cemetery caught fire, smoldered, and the fire contacted a coal vein and traveled underground. Every attempt to suppress the blaze failed, and the flames had consumed an underground area hundreds of acres in size - including right under the town.The fire caused fissures in a section of Highway 61 that runs right through Centralia. Smoke, fumes, toxic gases, and in some cases flames, rose up through the ground.  The fire has literally consumed Centralia. Residents moved or were force to move because of the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning, fires, and cave-ins.
Now this ghost town holds only a few residents, and hardly any buildings. The streets are mostly overgrown, but their eerie city grid still remain. I drove up from one of the streets to a dirt  road, which led to the dump where the fire started. I could see the fissures where steam or smoke escaped into the air, and the ground near them did feel warmer. Putting my hand by a fissure, I could feel the heat rising up and out. Quite a few other visitors were wandering - seeing for themselves the town that once was.
I'm glad I was able to see Centralia, but it was quite sad to think what these people needed to give up, and how quickly their lives had changed.

Visiting Centralia PA - Frequently Asked Questions about visiting Centralia

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