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Centralia PA History
Mine Fire History
Pictures From Today
Centralia Then & Now
   
 
 
An in-depth View
Film and Song
Historical Photos
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
Saskatchewan
Mine Rescue Manual
 

 

 

So you want to visit Centralia PA ...
Frequently Asked Questions about visiting Centralia

 

 

FAQ Sections:
  

 

 

 

 

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Over the years we have been asked many times several general questions about visiting Centralia.   Some are looking for a few pointers as to what to look for when someone visits what is left of the town.  Others are asking questions like,  is it legal to go there, is it dangerous, where do I look to find the smoke coming out of the ground, where is the fire currently located, where did the underground mine fire originally start, how do I find the ever expanding crack in Rt. 61, and the commonly asked question, how do I get to Centralia?  We diligently try to answer all of the questions and help folks find the town as well as locate and understand points of interest once they arrive.  Ultimately we thought it made sense to document your questions and point out interesting locations within the borough and pieces of information surrounding the stranger than fiction story of the town.  So this article will attempt to do just that.  
 
 
 

Is Centralia Dangerous?

Keep in mind as you read this, that we are in no way encouraging you to go to Centralia.  Centralia is not a tourist destination.  Much of the area has it's dangers with toxic gases and subsidence, meaning the ground can and does cave in, possibly opening up dangerous underground caverns of burning coal that can kill you in an instant.  Properties are owned by the Commonwealth of PA and you may indeed be trespassing if you go there.  All this doesn't mean curious people don't go there to get a first hand feel for the demise of a town that was once home to over a thousand people only a few short decades ago.  Just the fact that you are reading this means you may be thinking about visiting (or re-visiting) Centralia PA and therefore we want to share what we know about the town as it stands today.  But always be aware of the dangers as you explore the area.  Stay out of low areas where toxic gases can collect.  Stay out of the subsided areas that have collapsed and are smoking.  Use your best judgment and be cautious.


 

Is visiting Centralia legal?

Several major routes and minor roads run right through Centralia PA.  Rt 54, Rt 61 and Rt 42 all pass through the town and are open to traffic.  Hundreds if not thousands pass this way daily.  So entering Centralia is legal and it is not closed off to the public.  However most of the properties that had been acquired by the Commonwealth of PA are owned by the state.  Several of the properties that still are home to residents, though owned by the State as well, are personal property.  Whether you are trespassing depends on where you travel within the borough of Centralia.  Most of the area is not posted with "No Trespassing" signs although a few have been seen in specific areas.  There are signs expressing Warnings and Dangers to alert the public of the dangers that can be hidden there.  Yet people visit everyday to look at what is left of the town and see first hand the smoke and steam rising out of the ground.  We have never been aware of anyone being given a hard time about visiting to look around so long as they are respectful of the residents who still live there and are respectful of the personal property and area in general.   Recently there has been an increase in vandalism, which may have changed the attitudes of local people and possibly law enforcement.  As a result if you visit please don't feel the need to apply graffiti, smash bottles or litter.  Respect the residents and their property.  There is a lot of interest in Centralia and many people visit not only to satisfy curiosity but to pay respect to the town as it was.  There are three cemeteries in the borough of Centralia and family and friends visit occasionally.  So please help to keep the area clean and accessible by the public.  If anything, take a little of the garbage with you when you leave.


 

 

What can I expect to see in Centralia?
A brief overview of Centralia PA Today

It wasn't too long ago Centralia was still home to hundreds of people.  Within the past 30 years the numbers of residents has dwindled to next to nothing.   Homes and businesses that once lined the streets were one by one razed over time leaving only a plot of grass in it's place.  Today you'll find a grid-work of streets with no homes.  Cut wires overhead that would have once led to a home or building.  Side streets, curbs and sidewalks are crumbling leaving behind scant evidence of the lives that once populated neighborhoods.  Only a few structures remain at present.  The occasional home here and there, The Centralia Municipal Building and a few random structures. 
 

There are hot spots in the borough where smoke and steam rise out of the ground, evidence of the fire that still burns down below.  A stretch of Rt. 61 is closed permanently due to the fire below that has cause the roadway to collapse and open a several hundred foot long crack down the highway. Yet today there are still a few resident who live there.  With this in mind please be respectful of the residents if you visit.  Specific locations of interest described on this page.

 

 



 



 

Where are the interesting places to go while I'm and Centralia?
Points of Interest within and around Centralia PA


61-closed.jpg (20834 bytes)The direction from which you enter the town will vary depending on where you're coming from.   But for the sake of starting somewhere, we're going  to enter Centralia from the south, traveling north on State Route 61/54.  As you are leaving Ashland, following Rt 61 you make a right at the top of the long hill.  Follow that about a mile until you see the road as it used to be abruptly end and continue off to the right.  This is the beginning of where Rt. 61 was closed down due to the subsidence ahead on 61. 

 

Follow the alternate road to the right.  This alternate route for the closed section of Rt 61 takes you around the damaged section on what is known as Byrnesville Road.  You will pass an old abandoned washhouse on the left.  Township Road 311 is off to the right as you round the bend.  This small roadway used to be the community of Byrnesville and is now totally gone.  Continue up the hill.  You will emerge back onto Rt 61.  Here, stop and walk back down the closed section of Rt 61 to scene of the damaged roadway. 

Back at car a few hundred feet turn right onto a gravel driveway where you will find the old protestant cemetery named "Odd Fellows Cemetery".  Just beyond the cemetery turn left down a gravel driveway and look for some old pipes sticking out of the ground.  These pipes used to vent underground gasses years ago while the fire was in this area.  Within this vicinity was the old strip mine that was to be used as a town dump back in 1962.  This is where the fire presumably started. 

 

 

steam-rising-4.jpg (53708 bytes)Back at road make a left onto Rt. 61 once referred to by locals as Locust Street and continue north a few hundred feet where you can turn left down a narrow blacktop / gravel road (South Street) and up a short hill to an expanse of severe surface damage.  Warning, stay on the well traveled gravel road and out of low areas.  Also stay up wind of smoke and steam.  This is the most impressive view of the damage can be found.

 

Beyond those key points of interest, there are many side streets and remnants of homes in the area.  Drive around and explore the streets. Take notice of what you see.  The section "Centralia Today" is a Photo Documentary of Centralia as it stands today taking note of the subtleties of what is left behind.

Below is a map that you can print that may help guide you through the streets. 

Also you may want to print out the following page at this link and visit these locations to see what it used to look like. click here.

 

 

 

 

How do I get to Centralia PA?

Many people ask the question, "How do I get to Centralia?  Although Centralia's zip code has been revoked, the town is still on maps.  We suggest using Google Maps to map your route to Centralia.


View Larger Map

 


 

 

What else is in the region that I can do while I visit Centralia?

While you are in the area, you may want to visit the following:

Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine and Steam Train in Ashland, eastern Pennsylvania  - In May 1963, Pioneer Tunnel, which ceased operation in 1931, was retimbered and reopened as a place where visitors could experience a real anthracite coal mine. The Tunnel affords visitors an opportunity to learn how anthracite coal is mined.  The Pioneer Tunnel is located about 2 miles south of Centralia PA in Ashland just off of Rt 61.

Museum of Anthracite Mining in Ashland PA - Located on the same grounds as the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine in Ashland PA, this museum focuses on the history of anthracite coal mining industries and technology. It features a diverse collection of tools, machinery and photographs that depicts the mining of hard coal.  Information on Centralia's history is available at the museum. Located about 2 miles south of Centralia PA in Ashland.
  
Pioneer Coal Mine & Anthracite
Coal Museum
19th and Oak Streets, Ashland
Tours April through November
(717) 875-3850
web

Knoebels Amusement Park
Nestled in the rolling hills of central Pennsylvania is one of the states best kept secrets, Knoebels Amusement Park.  Plan your visit to Centralia around one the country's top rated family amusement parks located only 15 miles up the road from Centralia.  Knoebels is located near Elysburg PA in a large wooded valley.  It is rich in amusement history with a very diverse collection of old favorites intermingled with the newer rides and attractions of today.  More Information

 

Recommended Reading

Prior to visiting Centralia, we recommend you do a little reading about the town as it was and how it became a ghost town.  There are several good books that talk about the story of Centralia but none as detailed and insightful as David DeKok's book Unseen Danger: A Tragedy of People, Government, and the Centralia Mine Fire.  We suggest you read this book before visiting if for no other reason but to understand what this community went through a few decades ago.  Also see: Other books about Centralia
 

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Ghost Towns
Visit Ghost Towns across America

Abandoned PA Turnpike
Did you know Pennsylvania
has an abandoned Turnpike?
Defunct Amusement Parks
Amusement Parks of Yesterday
Abandoned Places
Abandoned Locations from all over
Area 51 - Groom Lake
The Top-secret military base.

 

 

Street map of Centralia PA

Above is a detailed street map including
the original names of the streets.
Click to Zoom in

 

 

 
  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.

 


 

What's near Centralia?

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


Knoebels
Amusement Park

Click Below for
 more details...

Knoebels
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

  

  

  

Is there Hope
for Centralia?

Maybe...

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.