Saturday, January 16, 2016

Welcome To Centralia, Pennsylvania, America's Best Ghost Town

Centralia, Pennsylvania in all its glory….or what was at one time glory…maybe?

The model example of small town America, Centralia was settled in 1841, and incorporated in 1866. To be honest it looks a lot like my hometown of Bad Axe, Michigan, another example of small town America.

Everything changed for this town of little over a thousand people in 1962 however. The towns economy was driven by the mining industry. In 1962 however, a fire that started on the surface was able to make its way into the coal tunnels that ran underneath the town. It is now known as the Centralia Mine Fire.

Little is known about what actually caused the fire to start. Some have speculated it could have been a trash fire that got to close to one of the mine entrances. Either way, this sign highlights some of the dangers that now exist in the town.

Though you’d never be able to tell from the surface, the mine fire raged on for YEARS! It was fueled by veins of coal running through the earth. Can you imagine knowing that a giant inferno is raging just beneath your feet?

Not knowing the scope of the disaster yet, people went on living their lives. In 1979 however, people started noticing huge spikes in the ground temperature, and large sinkholes that would appear as if out of nowhere.

1981 was a wake up call for the town. A 12-year-old boy named Todd Domboski fell into a 150 foot sinkhole that had opened up in his backyard. When rescue crews arrived, they took readings of the steam geyser coming from the sinkhole. It was found to have near lethal doses of Carbon Monoxide in it. Luckily the boy was eventually rescued.

Spirited debate continued for two years on how serious the fire was and what danger it posed to residents of the town. In 1984 however, the government decided the town needed to be moved. They put $42 million towards the relocation project.

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