Columbia County, Pennsylvania, Centralia's story began
in 1841 as a coal boomtown community called "Bull's
Head". Bull's Head was later incorporated as
borough of Centralia in 1866 by the local coal
companies who mined the rich Anthracite coal from the
area surrounding the small town. For the town of
Centralia these rich deposits of Anthracite coal
proved to be a double edged sword, when in 1962, the
coal beneath the town caught fire. Through the
1980's and 1990's the fire slowly tore their town
apart politically from above and and physically from
below. Nearly all of the homes, businesses and
buildings were torn down as families left their
beloved town behind and the Zip Code of 17927 was
revoked. Centralia was disappearing. Today
it is merely a skeleton of what it once was.
people from near and far learn of the story of Centralia,
they come to visit. Most are awestruck by what they
see. A grid work of streets without names,
without homes. Remnants of properties such as steps to
a front door that is no longer there. A few abandoned
buildings scattered here and there, surrounded by smoldering
hillsides and devastated wastelands. 3 cemeteries
remaining on the grounds of a church that was torn down
years ago. Only a very few occupied homes remain.
While no lives
had been lost that can be directly attributed to the
mine fire, what has been lost is the soul of a
community. With any strange or unusual
occurrence comes rumors and stories.
Centralia is no different in that respect.
Walking amid the ruins of this modern day ghost town
gives one the feeling of supernatural forces working
under foot. From visitors to the town, stories
arose from these ashes. Some were stories from
visitors who left in fear after thinking they saw a
person or thing, heard odd sounds and some felt they
were being watched. Others go as far as to say
Centralia is the gateway to Hell. Imaginations
can run wild. As Centralia becomes a modern day
ghost town and the fire encroaches upon the grave
yards of the abandoned town, rumors have circulated
that Centralia is haunted.
the movie Silent Hill has fueled rumors. Silent Hill
by Sony Pictures, is a story about a small town in West
Virginia called Silent Hill. When researching the
different elements of Silent Hill, screenwriter Roger Avary
came across the town of Centralia, Pennsylvania.
Centralia planted the seed for what developed into the
cinematic version of the town of Silent Hill. The
movie invites the audience to explore their fears of the
unknown. Yet, Silent Hill is a horror film and a work
more about the connect of Silent Hill the movie with
Centralia click here.
Centralia on the other
hand is a real town. A tangible location that can be
visited and explored. Quite frequently it is.
Centralia is not a tourist attraction. The dangers are
real. The story of Centralia is real. People
visit the town and leave with a deep impression on their
soul. Some people swear there was more to the visit
than sight seeing. Some leave with their own stories.
Occasionally a story emerges that makes you wonder if there
really is a soul of Centralia. Disturbed by its fate,
haunted by its past. Possibly the disturbed souls of
those departed, buried in the three cemeteries in Centralia
who can not rest knowing the town they grew up in, worked
in, lived in and loved is now gone. Lost to fire and
the incompetence of those who could have stopped it from
taking the town and their final resting place from them.
is the story posted on a bulletin board a few years ago of
Ruth Edderson who visited in the fall of 1998. Ruth
and her friend swore they saw a couple of people walking out
of the smoke who appeared to be wearing mining helmets.
The two figures walked up out of the large subsidence hole
behind the grave yards and de-materializes like the smoke
rising out of the same hole.
Scott Sailor of Mays
Landing NJ, wrote in an email:
Centralia last weekend with a couple of friends and I
thought I might share a very weird experience I had while
exploring the town. We were there for about an hour
and a half and were checking out the interesting locations
that I heard about, like the burning hill side, the crack
in Rt. 61 and the streets without homes. We were in
the area next to an old cemetery, on the east side of the
town, east of Rt. 61. We had just checked out the
old tombstones and were getting a whiff of smoke from the
east of that so we walked down the old gravel road to look
around. We found a slag covered hill side with steam
coming out of it and were pretty fascinated by some
fossils we found, when we heard what sounded like a voice
saying something in-auditable from down below where we
were. All three of us heard it. We figured it
was someone else checking out the area too so we sort of
ignored it. Then we heard it again, a little more
clearly. A few words and it sort of sounded like
"leave this place". At that moment the hill we were
standing on started steaming more than a few moments
before and it really stunk, like rotten eggs (sulfur I
guess). Well, it sort of spooked us so we figured we
better head back to the car. As we were walking
back, in the area of the cemetery, we heard it again, not
the same words and not clear but something like "why ...
why did you do that." What was even weirder was that
it wasn't like someone was yelling it out of the bushes,
it was quiet, and kind of closer and we couldn't figure
out the direction it was coming from. Too weird.
We got back to our car and didn't see any other cars or
people the whole time we were there. We left and
weren't sure what to make of it. We really weren't
sure we wanted to talk about it. All I know is I'm
not going back. When I got home I found out that the
area where I we were walking was near the location that
was where the fired started, across from the cemetery.
I just thought I'd let you know about it. Something
is not right about that place."
Jim and his
girlfriend Laurie emailed this in the fall of 1999:
Hi, My name is
Jim. About a month ago, my girlfriend Laurie and I
were coming back from Knoebels and we decided to take 61
home and stop at Centralia to take a look as we did once
before. First let me say, we're not superstitious.
In fact we're quite the opposite, we like checking out
abandoned places and old buildings, old cemeteries and
that sort of thing. We've seen a lot of old,
abandoned homes over the years but the one we checked out
in Centralia about a month ago really gave us a fright.
It was a white abandoned twin home, up on a side street,
on a hill. There were two units and both had red
numbers sprayed on the front which indicated from what I
gathered the homes were probably set to be demolished in
the near future. So we decided to check it out. The
back door was open so we went in. The some of the
first floor windows were boarded up, making it dark but we
explored the old house a little. We were on the
second floor in the hallway, near the stairs that led up
and down to the first and the third floor. The door
was open leading up to the third floor. Laurie was
in the hallway while I was at the top of the steps that
lead downstairs. At that point we heard foot
steps coming down the stairs from the 3rd floor. It
sounded to me that the steps were coming down the ceiling
above the steps going down to the first floor so my first
thought was someone coming down out of the attic (or third
floor bedroom). At first we were startled and
thought someone else was in the house. As the foot
sets sounded like they were about to reach the 2nd floor
hallway, Laurie looked into the stairwell, expecting to
see someone. There wasn't anyone there! At the
same time, I looked down the steps to the first floor and
saw nobody. We just stared at each other for a
few seconds. I said, You want to leave? She said
yes. We made a bee line down to the back door where
we came in and out to the car. We drove a about a
hundred feet and stopped to look back at the house,
looking at the windows. I mean, we expected to see
someone looking out at us. Nothing though.
Really weird. Like someone walked down those stairs
but we couldn't se them! Freaked us out. Anyway, I
don't know what to make of that. You wouldn't know
who used to live in that house? Not even sure where
it was or what the numbers were but if ever I thought a
house was haunted, it would be that one. Sort of changed
my impression of old vacant homes.
stories have any validity or alternate explanations is
difficult to say. Sometimes people see what they want
to see. Some folks believe they are more open to these
types of experiences. In the end everyone believes
what they want to believe. Some believe Centralia is
haunted. For some, that is what draws them there. For
others it is reason to never visit in the first place.
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