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A modern day Ghost Town

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Author Topic: A modern day Ghost Town  (Read 2738 times)
Lisa Wolfe
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« Reply #30 on: June 21, 2009, 05:24:01 am »



Inside St. Ignatius Church before it was torn down.
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« Reply #31 on: June 21, 2009, 05:24:55 am »

How to Get to Centralia, PA

   1. Follow I-81 to the exit for Frackville.
   2. Follow Rt. 61 North through Frackville into Ashland.
   3. Rt. 61 will go up a long hill in Ashland. Make a right turn at the top of the hill and continue following Rt. 61.
   4. Follow Rt. 61 about 2 miles into Centralia. Just before you get into Centralia the road will make a sharp turn off to the right. That is the closed section of highway with the crack in it. It's easier to get to from the top of the hill.
   5. Continue following Rt. 61 up the hill. You will get to Locust Avenue, the main street that runs North-South through Centralia and goes through the center of town. You can park in the unpaved lot on the right side of the road at the top of the hill, then walk down the closed section of highway to the crack.
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« Reply #32 on: June 21, 2009, 05:25:23 am »

Things to See in Centralia, PA

On the south side of Centralia is a section of four-lane divided highway which was closed in the 1980s. The reason: A huge crack in the southbound lanes, with smoke billowing out of it from the mine fire below. From the center of town, head south up the hill to the big yellow arrow signs. Park and walk down the closed highway about five minutes. You can't miss it.

http://www.xydexx.com/modernruins/centralia_things.htm

(NOTE: Due to the presence of toxic gases from the mine fire, proceed at your own risk.)

In my experience the residents have been interesting to talk to, but I'm not sure how they feel about all the attention their town has been gotten. If you see any of them in the park in the center of town and want to talk to them, be polite and remember you're a visitor there.

In Ashland (the town just south of Centralia) is the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine. Your chance to tour an abandoned coal mine in the original mine carts and learn all about coal mining. A fun and educational tour; I highly recommend it.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2009, 05:27:14 am by Lisa Wolfe » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #33 on: June 21, 2009, 05:27:34 am »

Here is additional information about Centralia and the surrounding area.
Books

    * DeKok, David. Unseen Danger : A Tragedy of People, Government, and the Centralia Mine Fire.
    * Jacobs, Renee - Slow Burn: A Photodocument of Centralia, Pennsylvania.
    * Kroll-Smith, J. Stephen and Couch, Stephen Robert. The Real Disaster is Above Ground: A Mine Fire & Social Conflict.
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« Reply #34 on: June 21, 2009, 05:37:29 am »



Sunday, May 03, 2009
Silent Hill and Centralia, PA

I'm not the first to write about this, and there's no particular reason for me to do it now. But this is one of those real-life stories that's seeped into popular culture without most people even knowing there's truth behind it. And it's got all the elements to make for bona fide folklore.

This is also my excuse to show the trailer of one of my favorite video games of all time, Silent Hill 2. If you never played this game, it's a story about a guy who gets a letter from his dead wife telling him she's waiting for him in the town of Silent Hill. He loves her, so of course he goes, fighting his way through his own version of hell to find her. The game is one big emotional mindfuck, which is something this series has always had over every other horror video game series out there. Even if you don't like video games, if you're into art or film of any kind, you should be able to appreciate this.
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« Reply #35 on: June 21, 2009, 05:38:17 am »

You might remember the movie from 2006. Like most film adaptations of video games, it was somewhat dumbed down and a lot more straightforward in plot than any of the games. But it wasn't too bad. There's a full trailer on YouTube, but I actually think the first teaser they released was a lot more creative (and spooky):

One thing the movie did do, though, is attempt to explain a little bit of the town's backstory - which from what I remember is one of the first few games' central mysteries. (It was later explained in more detail in the PSP game Silent Hill Origins.) And that backstory was lifted by screenwriter Roger Avary right out of Centralia, Pennsylvania.
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« Reply #36 on: June 21, 2009, 05:38:42 am »

Centralia was a town in Pennsylvania coal country, with a series of mines running beneath the town. In 1962, one of these mines caught fire, and the coal began to burn. It hasn't stopped burning since.

The fire and smoke were never as thick from a visual standpoint as they are in Silent Hill, though there were and are pockets of thick smoke on the outskirts of town.

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« Reply #37 on: June 21, 2009, 05:39:46 am »

Centralia, for all intents and purposes, no longer exists (though about 15 die-hards still live within the old town limits). It can't even really be classified a ghost town, which it was through much of the 1980's. The fire and smoke drove most of the residents out, and the government no longer puts the town on official maps. It even lost its zip code a while back. One of the most amazing images of the town today is simply the Google map satellite view:

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« Reply #38 on: June 21, 2009, 05:40:13 am »

50 years ago, that would have been a bustling town filled with structures. Today, most have been torn down and the ground turned to dust. Nothing grows there but the hardiest of plants because of the heat. It's somewhere between a desert and a lava flow.

The old Route 61 - the main road running through the town - has buckled under the heat of the underground fire, and was closed years ago.

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« Reply #39 on: June 21, 2009, 05:41:01 am »

This is one of those places that really does have a series of "ROAD CLOSED" signs across it, like you see in the movies. The entire town is bypassed by Route 61 today.

I've never read that the original Team Silent used Centralia, PA as inspiration for the first Silent Hill, but I like to think they did. It was a Japanese-developed game about an American small town, so they clearly did some research. Regardless, though, the story of Centralia is one of those sad but unbelievable stories that seem somehow unique to this country.

http://www.alphabetcityblog.com/2009/05/silent-hill-and-centralia-pa.html
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« Reply #40 on: June 21, 2009, 05:42:54 am »

Centralia Pennsylvania
...truth is stranger than fiction.
A Pennsylvania community consumed by
an underground mine fire.

If you were driving north on route 61 in the heart of the Anthracite coal region in Pennsylvania in recent years, you may have come across a detour of 61 at the top of a hill in a community called Ashland.  Thinking nothing of it you would have followed the detour signs that took you around some possible road construction or a bridge being worked on.  You're then reconnected with Rt. 61 again.

Many have followed this path in recent years with little knowledge of the on going story of this little detour and the town that no longer is really a town.  If you had disregarded the detour signs and make the right that 61 north takes through Ashland your first clue that something isn't right would be the abrupt end to route 61 as it once was.
 

This road closure seems to be more than just a little construction up around the bend.  At closer inspection it would seem to be a more permanent close of the road.  If you were to look to your right and follow a small, slightly less engineered road down and around the closed route 61 it would re-emerge at the beginning of the story.   Centralia.

steam-rising-4.jpg (53708 bytes)The ruins of Centralia Pennsylvania no longer exists on some maps.  The story began sometime in 1962 along the outskirts of town when trash was burned in the pit of an abandoned strip mine, which connected to a coal vein running near the surface.  The burning trash caught the exposed vein of coal on fire.  The fire was thought to be extinguished but it apparently wasn't when it erupted in the pit a few days later.  Again the fire was doused with water for hours and thought to be out.  But it wasn't.   The coal then began to burn underground.  That was in 1962.   For the next two decades, workers battled the fire, flushing the mines with water and fly ash, excavated the burning material and dug trenches, backfilled, drilling again and again in an attempt to find the boundaries of the fire and  plan to put the fire out or at least contain it.

All efforts failed to do either as government officials delayed to take any real action to save the village.  By the early 1980s the fire had affected approximately 200 acres and homes had to be abandoned as carbon monoxide levels reached life threatening levels.   An engineering study concluded in 1983 that the fire could burn for another century or even more and "could conceivably spread over an area of approximately 3,700 acres."

As time passed, each feeble attempt to do anything to stop the fire or help the residents of Centralia would cost more and more due to the fires progression.  Over 47 years and 40 million dollars later the fire still burns through old coal mines and veins under the town and the surrounding hillsides on several fronts.  The fire, smoke, fumes and toxic gases that came up through the back yards, basements and streets of Centralia literally ripped the town apart.   Most of the homes were condemned and residents were relocated over the years with grants from the federal government although some die-hards refused to be bought out and some still remain in the town.  Today Centralia is a virtual ghost town with only a few remaining residents.  As they continue to live in their beloved homes now owned by the federal government, people pass every day along Route 61, most totally unaware of the history surrounding them and the sad story of Centralia.


Studies have shown that if the fire is not contained it will continue to spread following the rich coal deposits and eventually threaten the neighboring town of Ashland, less that two miles away.  Many people including former (and current) residents of Centralia insist that there is more to this story than meets the eye.  Some believe that the rich deposits of coal beneath the town itself is the reason for the forced relocation of the towns people and to force the town to go defunct, giving up its mineral rights.  The stories around what is happening here vary depending on who you talk to or what you read.   What is certain is what has happened to this small community and the fact that Centralia as it once was, will never be again.

http://www.offroaders.com/album/centralia/centralia.htm
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« Reply #41 on: June 21, 2009, 05:45:14 am »

Centralia Pennsylvania

The following photos were sent in by Ray Barnett
Pictures Taken June 17, 2005

Why do we go there?  Because it's just so damn interesting. I mean, who knew such a place existed, and especially in boring 'ol PA? It's much like your site says, you can quite easily pass right through it without even realizing it... but it really is an interesting place. One thing I would like to mention about it that you didn't mention on your site (maybe you weren't affected?) is that spending even a small amount of time there in proximity to the vent holes will have negative effects on your health, particularly breathing and throat problems. We spent about 30 minutes up in the area around the vents, on the hill (where the cemetery featured in the pics I sent is), and after we left everyone was complaining of sore/scratchy throats for the following hour or two.
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« Reply #42 on: June 21, 2009, 05:46:53 am »



I've been considering some method of avoiding this the next time we visit... perhaps something like wearing painters masks, but I'm not sure how much those would even help.
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« Reply #43 on: June 21, 2009, 05:47:29 am »



We plan to spend a lot more time there this coming trip. This trip, we just stopped by Centralia on our way between a wedding and the reception.

I'm glad someone put such time and dedication into giving Centralia a presence on the web, and I hope the pictures are something you can use.

-Ray Barnett
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« Reply #44 on: June 21, 2009, 05:48:08 am »



These supports of one of the few homes left in Centralia mask hidden I-beams that support the home that was once part of a series of row homes.
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