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Centralia PA History
Mine Fire History
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Centralia Then & Now
An in-depth View
Film and Song
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Mine Fire History
Visiting Centralia
Mine Fire Chronology
Satellite, Aerial Photos
360 Virtual Tours
Downtown Panoramic
Centralia Multimedia
Scientific Study
Memories of Centralia

Panoramic Virtual Tours:

Mine Fire Hot Spot
Downtown Centralia Mainstreet Centralia Damaged Hillside

Knoebels Amusement Park (only 15 miles from Centralia!) 
Ghost Towns
Area 51 - Groom Lake
Abandoned PA Turnpike
Defunct Amusement Parks
Abandoned Places


Photo Updates:

Centralia in HDR

July 2006 360? Virtual Tour of Downtown Centralia PA

Centralia's Neighbor:
Byrnesville, Pa

Zeisloft's Mobil
Gas Station

July 5th 2008
Centralia PA

Centralia PA 2008
January Photos and 
commentary by
Donald Davis

2006 Photos

2005 Photos
of Centralia


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2004 Photos
of Centralia

2003 photos

of Centralia

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2002 photos

of Centralia

360 Degree Virtual Tours of Centralia PA

Fire In The Hole
by Kristie Betts
A fictional story based on Centralia

The Little
Town That Was

by Donald Hollinger


RESIDENTS TO SAVE THE BOROUGH OF CENTRALIA - FACT SHEET #6 - MARCH 1984 - This "Fact Sheet" was transcribed from a photocopied, original March 1984 newsletter from a Centralia organization called "Residents To Save The Borough Of Centralia".  Read the News Letter here

130th Anniversary
of the 1877 Shamokin Uprising and the Great Railroad Strike .. Read More


Centralia Today
A Photo Documentary
of Centralia today.


Mine Emergency Response Program
Details from the
Mine Rescue Manual


Centralia Pennsylvania

Centralia - Columbia County, Pennsylvania

cent62b-s.jpg (11800 bytes)The borough of Centralia is located in Columbia County, Pennsylvania.  Centralia was founded in 1860, but it was initially known as Bull's Head, named after a tavern in the borough.  Johnathan Faust opened Bull's Head Tavern in 1841 in what was then Roaring Creek Township. In 1854, Alexander W. Rea, a civil and mining engineer for the Locust Mountain Coal and Iron Company, moved to the site and laid out streets and lots for development. The town was known as Centreville until 1865, when the post office was established and the name was changed to Centralia. Centralia was incorporated as a borough in 1866. The anthracite coal industry was the principal employer in the community. Coal mining continued in Centralia until the 1960s, when most of the companies went out of business. Bootleg mining continued until 1982. Strip and open-pit mining is still active in the area, and there is an underground mine employing about 40 employees three miles to the west.

The borough was also a hotbed of Molly Maguires activity during the 1860s and 1870s. The borough's founder, Alexander Rea, was one of the victims of the secret order when he was murdered just outside of the borough on October 17, 1868. Three individuals were convicted of the crime and hanged in the county seat of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania on March 25, 1878. Several other murders and arsons also occurred during this period.

locust-north-s.jpg (11738 bytes)The borough was served by two railroads, the Philadelphia and Reading and the Lehigh Valley, with the Lehigh Valley being the principal carrier. Rail service ended in 1966. The borough operated its own school district with elementary schools and a high school within its precincts. There were also two Catholic parochial schools in the borough. The borough once had seven churches, five hotels, twenty-seven saloons, two theatres, a bank, post office, and fourteen general and grocery stores. During most of the borough's history, when coal mining activity was being conducted, the town had a population in excess of 2,000 residents. Another 500 to 600 residents lived in unincorporated areas immediately adjacent to Centralia.


Centralia PA, circa 1906

The borough was situated over a large vein of anthracite coal, a rare and valuable form of coal, which drew many miners to the area. By 1962, more than 1,100 people lived in Centralia, many of whom were coal miners. That year, on Memorial Day, a trash fire was lit in an abandoned mine pit outside of town. The fire traveled down a mine shaft, igniting a vein of coal. The fire spread throughout the coal mines underneath Centralia throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Some efforts were made to extinguish the fire, but were unsuccessful. Some people who lived near the fire reported the smell of coal fumes and emissions of carbon monoxide in their homes. In 1982, 12-year-old Todd Dombroski was playing in a backyard when a sink hole opened up beneath him. A relative pulled Dombroski from the hole, which was estimated to be 150 feet (45 meters) deep. The incident brought national attention to Centralia, and in 1983, the Pennsylvania government offered a buy-out for the residents. Most of the borough's residents opted to move, and today, many of them live in the nearby communities of Ashland and Mount Carmel. The remaining residents have refused all buy-out offers from the state. Their reasons are varied, but some residents believe the state has ulterior motives in forcing them out, such as claiming the mineral rights to the 3,700 acres of coal beneath the borough.


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Locust Ave looking South, 1915

There are no plans to extinguish the fire, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection estimates the fire will burn out in 100 years. Today, there is a large field in Centralia where all the grass has died and the ground is very hot. Here, vents in the ground can still be seen releasing toxic gases into the air. There is a sign in front of this field that warns you by saying, "Go onto it at your own risk". This is because the land is unstable.  Centralia is serviced by an active volunteer fire department and ambulance. Since the dismantling of the borough's police department in the 1990s, police services have been provided by the Columbia County Sheriff's Department.   Centralia is located at 40°48'12" North, 76°20'30" West (40.803291, -76.341741)1. According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 0.6 km˛ (0.2 mi˛). 0.6 km˛ (0.2 mi˛) of it is land and none of the area is covered with water.



Read About Centralia Today...

Help Contribute To Centralia's Story

If you wish to contribute to the story of Centralia, PA either through first hand experience, pictures, stories, reading information or even comments, we would love to hear from you.  You may e-mail us at:

or write to:

11 Crozerville Road
Aston, PA 19014

  Mine Fire History Mine Fire History Historical Photos
  Pictures From Today Mine Fire Chronology Visiting Centralia
  Centralia Then & Now 360? Virtual Tours Scientific Study
  Satellite, Aerial Photos Downtown Panoramic Centralia Books


Other Interesting Things




So you want to Visit Centralia PA?  What you should know before you go to Centralia PA.


The Real Disaster Is Above Ground: A Mine Fire and Social Conflict



What's near Centralia?

Plan your visit around one of Pennsylvania's best kept secrets located only 15 miles up the road from Centralia...

Amusement Park

Click Below for
 more details...

Amusement Park


Silent Hill & Centralia
Centralia PA inspires screenwriter Roger Avary during the making of the movie Silent Hill.
Read More Here...


Remembering ...
Byrnesville PA
By Mike Reilley

  Books about Centralia
  Maps of Centralia
  Around Town Today
  Local Attractions
  Personal Notes
  Additional Reading
  Haunted Centralia?
  Gerry McWilliams and
  the album "Centralia"
  Silent Hill Inspiration
  Other Mine Fires
  Search Centralia
  Centralia Sites/Books
Panoramic Virtual Tours:
Mine Fire Hot Spot
Downtown Centralia Mainstreet Centralia Damaged Hillside
  Centralia Infrared

Centralia PA in B&W Infrared
Infrared Photography
by Donald Davis

Video Tour
in Infrared of
Centralia PA
by Donald Davis


The Little Town That Was
by Donald Hollinger
Made in U.S.A. - 1987 movie that was filmed on location in Centralia PA See the opening Scene that started in Centralia during the peek of the mine fire disaster



Is Centralia Haunted?
Explore the possibility

The Real Disaster Is Above Ground: A Mine Fire and Social Conflict

Is there Hope
for Centralia?


Through the use of Nitrogen-Enhanced foam the Pinnacle mine fire was extinguished by Cummins Industries, Inc.  Cummins proposes to tackle the Centralia Mine fire and bring an end to the 
40 plus year fire.

Read this White Paper which evaluates the effectiveness of remotely applied nitrogen-enhanced foam to aid in efforts to isolate and suppress a mine fire.