Monday, December 7, 2009

Thanksgiving in Centralia

Over the holiday weekend, we took a day to drive into Pennsylvania to see the infamous town of Centralia. In the heart of anthracite coal country, Centralia was once a busy little mining town. Then one day in 1962 the town dump was set fire to clean it out, the blaze spread into a coal mine shaft, and caused a subterranean inferno that still burns today. It has been on our list of day trips for years and we finally got around to it.

Welcome to Centralia!

Josh and I began our day in this part of town. The roads remain but all but a few houses have been removed. We were happy to see that the ground is still smoking, steaming, and looking creepy.

Josh inspected the vents.

It was a very windy day so we weren't too worried about noxious fumes. The information we referenced before traveling warned against idling in low lying areas.


Stinky Steam

Possibly the location of the dump.

We took the car down a dirt road as far as we could before we risked bottoming out on some deep puddles. After meeting some other travelers, we headed down a path to an area with a lot of vapor activity. It could have been the original location of the dump that started the whole mess. It also seemed like fresh dumping was happening in the woods here.

A steaming storm drain just yards from one of the few remaining homes.

A road to nowhere, of course!
The old highway into town was eventually diverted after what appeared to be numerous patch jobs and efforts to keep the road surface above ground. At one point, a huge crater developed and I guess they finally gave up. I can only imagine how long they held off the reroute. I can picture lots of "Rough Road Ahead" and "Dip" signs cautioning drivers of the conditions before they actually made the decision to build a new road.

Here's that dip I was talking about.

The crater that broke the camel's back.
In 1981 a child in town almost fell into a 4' wide by 150' deep crater that opened up in his backyard. The government began buying houses at that point and many residents relocated to neighboring towns. In 2002 the USPS revoked Centralia's zipcode, 17927.

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