Centralia, Pennsylvania: Centralia Mine FireCoal veins burning since 1961, almost all the buildings and the last of the people are gone. Unsafe ground, noxious gases -- be careful.
Visitor Tips and News About Centralia Mine Fire
My husband recalled memories of passing through the town and seeing the smoke coming from the ground. I was up for a road trip already that day and sought to find it for myself. It took a while to find because only a handful of houses remain. You blink, you miss it. Once we found it it was not as thrilling as I expected.
Centralia is mainly overgrown brush and trees. Three points I must bring up are the wonderful things I noticed. One a lone house is very noticeable from Rt. 61 heading North. On the sidewalk near it is a green bench with the name of the town and the year it was officially founded. Behind that is a well manicured lawn and a Veterans Memorial. The second thing to note (a bit funny) is up on the hill, which is actually Rt. 42, is the town borough building, housing a fire truck and a police car. A final note is the beautiful cemetery further back on Rt. 61. A small patch is paved in front of a well-maintained iron fence.
I recommend giving the town a look see, but take the warnings seriously. We only drove as far as our car could go on the vacant over grown streets. We passed two cars without occupants in the middle of nowhere. Don't now if they were abandoned or what. I never got out of the car. Too creepy.
While Centralia holds a bit of excitement to it, at the same time I was a bit saddened by how the town once was and no longer is.[Amanda, 07/23/2008]
This place was one of the destinations in our trip around PA. We were expecting all these warning signs posted and "Road Closed" barriers blocking off the abandoned Rt. 61 and all that smoke coming out of the ground.
For the most part, we were disappointed. No warning signs, no "road closed" barriers - but the smoking ground didn't disappoint! The fire is now past the St. Ignatus Cemetery and continues to puff out massive clouds of smoke. We followed a family over a hump to the right of the roadblock (in the direction of Ashville, right after the cemetery), and found more smoke in a rocky terrain along with various moldering furniture and rusted junk. There was a toliet ripped off of its base and abandoned here.
If you walk over the hump behind the big arrow sign and go down probably half a mile down the abandoned Rt 61, you can see a massive fissure in the road with lots of smoke coming out. It's easy to find, actually - with all the graffiti written around it.[Nat Balsley, 02/23/2008]
Driving through Pennsylvania, my friend Brian managed to drop his cell phone on the Interstate, where it was picked up by a State Trooper. He said "We all got a big laugh out of it down at the station" when they heard that we were going to Centralia. "You're going to be disappointed - It's just a town with some smoke coming out of the ground."
We were anything but disappointed.[Maeve Sullivan, 01/30/2008]
This perpetually burning town, this human hell on surface earth is no longer really "burning" and far from anything hellish. There are no chimneys arising from streets to let off primordial fire and brimstone, no eery warning signs- there is nothing to draw anyone there, for any reason, any longer....
Went far out of our way in the pouring rain too see a garbage dump (literally) letting off some steam.[Stan Banos, 09/24/2007]
We took a trip to Ashland, Pa. to visit the Pioneer Mine Tunnel and Train, which was a very neat trip. After the tour we took a short 5-10 minute ride, just north of Ashland to this "Ghost Town" as some call it. Tourists and passersby still get out to take a look at the buckled Rt. 61. ENTER AND PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK DUE TO FUMES AND GASES FROM THE FIRE! signs are posted -- use caution. Rt.61 is now smoking at the one crack in the road.
We proceeded to the town. After going down the hill on your left a shrine sits marking Brynsville, Pa., which was abandoned -- only a few buildings stand.
According to the guide in Ashland, only 20 Centralia residents are left and will not move. We took a few dead end roads, which have steps that once lead to once homes, and driveways overgrown with brush. A few street benches still stand with house numbers on them. We took our time, since sinkholes and smoke still come out of the ground in some places. The fire department still has a engine and ambulance in Borough Hall, which still stands but not in good condition.[Steve Bower, Jr., 09/03/2006]