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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




Memories from
Centralia Pennsylvania

By J. Keen Holland

My involvement in Centralia was very brief. In 1980 (the year the fire was old enough to vote) the Department of the Interior put out an RFP for a study of several competing approaches to dealing with the fire which had been prepared by the feds' coal mining research center near Pittsburgh. The contract was won by Robbins Associates (of Lemoyne, I think) largely due to their experience on the technical side of the mine fire business. They turned to Berger Associates of Camp Hill (later renamed Benatec) for help with the economics, sociology, and politics end of the project. Berger provided to the project the services of myself (my degree was in economics with a "minor" in environmental studies at UVa) and my partner (government, from Harvard) who had worked together in the Office of Economic Opportunity in the Nixon administration.

The team put out materials explaining the alternatives, conducted a town hall meeting for residents to answer questions, prepared a survey of all households in the fire area (all of the Borough of Centralia plus a few in Conyngham Township) and tabulated the results, and interviewed business owners and administered a separate survey of businesses (this was my particular area) to help determine impacts on employment, local tax revenues, etc.

We were in and out of Centralia for two or three months. At that time, the gas station on the west side of 61 had already stopped selling gas and I think it may have ceased operation altogether while we were working there. The little convenience store (run by the Moran family, I think) was already reduced to selling candy, ice cream and soft drinks. There was one sewing factory still in operation staffed mostly by women who were on the downhill side of middle age (as I am now but they looked awfully old to me at 30).

You could already see a fair number of ghostly looking dead trees, killed from the root by heat and poison gas, along 61 as you came into town from Ashland. One of the biggest concerns at that time was the safety of the natural gas pipeline that followed Route 61. By the time the Dombowski boy fell in that hole, I believe our work in Centralia had been completed although the politicians and bureaucrats were still haggling over what to do next.

The various proposals from the research center involved combinations of boreholes, trenches, slurry (to seal off air or contain water) and water (to drown the fire). They differed mainly in cost and the proportion of the at-risk area to be protected. There was even a plan to try to tap into the fire as an energy source to generate electricity. Many residents, including those who had actually worked the mine in their younger days, believed these plans would fail for various reasons. Two examples I recall:
1) A plan for flooding the fire through boreholes from the surface did not, according to the ex-miners take into account the double-breast tunnel that drained the mine from North to South - North elevation over 1000' above MSL (1002 or 1004, as I recall), South elevation a bit under (998 or 996 ?).
2) Plans that assumed air could not reach the fire from the East because there was a solid wall of unmined coal in that direction separating the Centralia mine from another in that direction as shown on official mine maps would fail because the maps were a fraud, that there had been tunneling that had pushed through to connect the two mines. Some said taxes and royalties - going back to the Depression or earlier - had been avoided by failing to accurately show mining activity on the maps.

The one thing everyone did agree on was that the northern third or so of the Borough was safe because the water table was high enough that the fire could not move in that direction - the coal seams pitched rather steeply downward going from South to North. For this reason, and because of the close feeling of the community, my partner floated the idea of extending the northern part of the Borough to the west on the north side of the road to Mt. Carmel and building houses there to replace those being lost to the fire, then principally in the southern part of town. We also put on the table a "status quo" option which left the fire itself to burn while the state would continue to buy out homes that became uninhabitable. I supported this because it seemed unreasonable to spend 400 years worth of Anthracite reclamation fund revenue to protect less than 5% of the resource. Largely through bureaucratic inertia, our "status quo" option was very much like what happened.

We produced a report of (if memory serves) 180+ pages that I am sure no one read in its entirety - except me, since I edited the whole document for style and specified all the 30 or so maps, charts, tables and graphs, as well as authoring a couple of chapters.

There is more to the saga - bureaucratic bungling and footdragging and the fire moving faster than the bureaucrats and politicians could agree on who would pay how much so that the money, when finally spent, was guaranteed to yield no benefit. Also, there were suspicions voiced by a few residents that someone was trying to do them out of their money (the ownership of the coal had reverted to the Centralia School District during the Depression and then passed to the Borough when its school district was consolidated with others nearby). Others thought the whole study we were doing was rigged because a surface mine on the west side of Centralia was owned by a state employee.

That's about all I remember. If I come across a copy of that report, I might be able to fill in some gaps here like a full list of businesses and how many were employed.

Best wishes,
J. Keen Holland



  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.