Centralia Home Page
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


 

IMG_0215b.jpg (116899 bytes)
2004 Photos
of Centralia


2003 photos

of Centralia

DSCF0059.jpg (65114 bytes)
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
 

 

 

Centralia Pennsylvania

Personal Note Archives
  

...from the readers
  

I was born in Centralia pa 71 years ago and raised there till I left in 1955 when because of lack of work in that area, People then cared much about each other, many churches and then again many bars also, one could not believe the looking out for each other, the different ethnic cooking, the Irish descent, the welsh descent, polish and the churches for all of us, There was an article in the National Geographic Magazine many years back where a Priest predicted the town would die by fire, which seems to be coming true. How sad for all of us that grew up there.

- Paul N Aggie

 

 

SOME THOUGHTS...

Finally made a trip to Centralia after reading as much as we could find online.

Interesting place to say the least. A bit frustrating to think that an entire town could be reduced to what we saw. Eerie with smoke coming out of the ground and a bench that people used to sit on and chat about things.

The building which housed the police/ambulance was completely dark inside from what we could tell and there were vehicles housed there. My husband seemed to think that this was still an active entity, but I question who and what towns these vehicles would serve.

There was a class of students from Bucknell there the day we visited. Good to see that there is interest in our "local" history.

Our biggest disappointment was that so many people seem to be using Centralia for their own personal garbage dump - empty bottles, candy wrappers, dirty clothing, plastic bags - strewn everywhere.

Thanks for letting us get our 2 cents in. Since we moved to Pa. a few years ago we've discovered the most wonderful places all over the state, and our Centralia experience was definitely one for the books!

dennis and diana nagy
 

 

My name is Raymond J. Milius, I was born in Girardville Jan. 7th, 1924.  Many a Saturday, My Father, my brother, and I, picked coal from the coal refuge bank, at the foot of the sloop located across the creek from the drift, of the "Blast" colliery.  About 1932 the mine caught fire, rumors were that the cause was a miner smoking, who left the butt lit.  To extinguish the fire, it was to be flooded, the drift was blasted shut.  The year 1943, I've visited Girardville, with three of my friends who were to be inducted into the army .  Due to the energy shortage, the "Blast" drift was opened the water was drained.  The mine was still  burning,  the drift was closed, the mine was reflooded  In 1960, my wife and I, on our "Honeymoon", drove to Shamokin, Pa.  On the north side of the highway from Mt. Carmel to Shamokin, driving at night, the westward red glow on the mountain  was very visible, from the burning coal vein.

              Signed; Raymond J. Milius.

 

Hi there,

I was just interested, fascinated, and grateful to you guys for your Centralia-related stuff, that you have on here.  I was utterly captivated by the movie Silent Hill - and stunned to discover the inspiration for the location.  How long have you had this stuff on your site? Will you keep it on forever - or should I be recording it somehow?  What prompted you to have this stuff on here?

Simply an amazing historical record.

I'm so captivated by the whole thing, that I bought a domain dedicated to the cause, and will point it to your Centralia web pages - so there should be no copyright issues there at all www.centraliastory.com

I don't think that this knowledge and history should ever be forgotten.  Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.  I'm aware that this may be a bit of a "weird" e-mail - but I'll still be grateful for a response of some sort! Thanking you for an amazing facility - and in advance for your reply,

Arif (from the UK)
www.lucentlens.co.uk


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.   Read More Here ....

Hi there, I came across your site while telling a friend of mine about the mine fires there in Centralia and was amazed to see the history and photos posted in one amazing place. I lived in Northumberland for a good many years, but have since relocated to Washington, DC and this sort of thing is unheard of, let alone lived near to. I have to admit, it’s rather staggering to see the more recent photos, as a child, Rt. 61 was still open, though ill advised to travel on in order to go to Ashland or all points further south, and homes and businesses still stood. Thank you for keeping history very alive and available, for this town can no longer speak for itself, and soon its remnants will return to the earth from which they sprang.

Kind Regards,
Jennifer W.

As a young child I visited Centralia a good bit. My Great Aunt and Great Grandparents both lived there. My Grandfather's last name was Zeisloft and he owned a Mobil Gas Station in town. It's just so sad to see the destruction from the fire that has turned what I once knew as a very nice place to go, into a barren waste land.

David L. Grant

To whom it may be of interest. My name is Sr.Claire Hutchinson. My students of the past would recognize me using the name of Sr. Agnes Cecilia. At present I am stationed at St. Matthew's Convent on Cottman Ave. in Philadelphia. I began my teaching career, at St.Ignatius school in Centralia. I taught first and second grade. Music lessons and children's choir were and music during the years of ' 48 and 57'a period of nine years.

 

Amazing Website...
Hi,
My name is Jim Russell, I live in a small town called Bartlett Illinois. I’m 48 going on 49, and had over the years once in a great while heard mention of a town that has been burning for years. Tonight, on the History Channel, was a special about “fire”. Typical of their shows, there are little tidbits of information going into each commercial break. One said that the town of Centralia had been burning underground since 1962 and could conceivable burn another 100 years. This made me go to the web, and immediately found your fascinating site. One building, the long cinder block appearing building with doors caving in looks eerily familiar. Why I saw so is that a few years back I dated a lady from State College, and used to go visit her relatives in the various towns there, Shippensburg, Johnsburg, Clearfield, DuBois, Harrisburg, Allentown, Altoona, Gettysburg, Lock Haven, Lancaster, Williamsport, many others. We would also simply go here and there; one such trip I swear we might have gone to Centralia by accident as that building stood out in my mind then and I never forgot it.

Whether we were there or not, this is a fascinating and very sad story. It shows the true power of nature, and though mankind is intelligent and creative, some things are still very hard to get a grasp on. Amazing that 3 Mile Island and Harrisburg were saved, yet this fire has continued so many decades. More amazing that the few holdouts have not been somehow forced out to keep this from expanding further and perhaps consuming Ashland.

If this is ever put out and then restored back to useable land, the money spent so far, and that to do so will undoubtedly be staggering. One can only hope that if that day comes, lessons are learned and it is done correctly so there is no further risk from fumes, or any fire that wasn’t caught, or weak points in the ground.

It is something to see peoples’ curiosity. I admit, where I to live nearby, I’d be likely to go “see” too. Yet how foolhardy might it be to do so, it looks quite dangerous. That said, without those that did, your amazing archive may not exist. As someone who’s spent the past 25 plus years in computers and IT, everyone is a so-called expert on everything computer related, whether hardware, software, functionality, or the new virtual library, websites on the internet. Yours is a masterpiece of information, and clearly a labor of love and dedication. I couldn’t stop clicking page by page. Sure, a nit-picker might spot the occasional typo, but what matters is the real content, this compilation of visual history and a riveting accompanying story.

I learned much, and can only hope and pray, that in my lifetime, I someday hear that some team of geniuses figure out and successfully implement once and for all, the real solution to containing and ending this fire forever, and ideally, also hearing how it will be restored and rebuilt, but very safely.

I plan to send a link to your opening page to my family and friends. It’s without question, one of the most interesting stories I have ever heard of. As said, it always was in the fringes of my mind, this mystery burning town. I am pleased at one thing I did NOT see, no where in your story did I see some enterprising entrepreneur that somehow turned this sad loss into a major commercial tourist site attraction. We come to expect no less, it too sadly seems so uniquely “American” to do so,

Bravo on your impressive work. I will bookmark it and look through time to see updates should they continue.

Truly Amazing!

Jim Russell

 

 

Thanks for keeping up the Centralia portion of the site. I check back periodically (every couple of years) to see if there are updates. I am fascinated with the town after having visited there in the 80's when I lived in Binghamton, NY.

Mark

 

 

Hello,
I stumbled across your site yesterday afternoon and ended up looking/reading it the rest of the day—fascinating stuff.  Do you know anything about the reasons/motivations for those who stayed to do so? Though I have never visited the area, I can tell it is very scenic, etc, but gathered from your site that the region is dotted with small towns, so even if one had roots there and loved it, a 10 mile move would be feasible. Some of the places higher up look big and old and would be tough to leave, but other houses looked pretty basic/nothing special—as well as dangerous.

My compliments on the photography and ergonomic structure of the site; it was an excellent way to spend an afternoon.

Thanks,
Cliff Thompson
Burnsville, mn
 

Hello, my name is Tracy Kremser and I have lived in RD#3 Catawissa for all of my childhood. I used to go through Centralia with my parents from time to time. Over the years I have watched first hand this town turn into what we now call a "ghost town". I stopped there a few years back just to see for myself just what it is like to be walking on the ground of this underground mine fire. Let me tell you now it was very spooky for me. Just the feel of nobody around is enough to give you the underlying feeling of "hey something is very wrong here!". I did have enough nerve to walk around a bit and I felt the need to pick up a rock from the top of the surface. Let me tell you first hand, do not do this---it will burn you!! It surprised me that so much heat could possibly radiate from this fire. But Centralia is very close to all of us that live nearby in these quiet towns. We care very much for the people that lo st their homes, and we care about those that decided to stay. Either way I say that Centraia should stay on the map just because of it's historic value to Pennsylvania. But I would really like to thank those of you who support this tiny community. It is great to see a fantastic website built for this town. They have been through a lot and the people deserve it. This could have happened to any of the coal mining communities but it didn't. Please do not forget about our tiny town it means a lot to us that live in "small communities". 

Hi,

My name is Francine Price formerly Anoia. I have a couple pictures of myself in the book Slow Burn-one in front of the bonfire that has the effigy of Secretary of Interior James Watts, I was about 7 or 8 when that picture was taken and my brother Jerry who is also in that picture is about 6 or 7.
I also am the girl in the checked pants on the front cover with the Brownie troop.

I grew up with the mine fire and can remember how it always smelled. My family's cemetery plot is near the fence where the mine fire is burning on the other side. I am a geology major at Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. I believe my father and grandfather once told me there is an underground stream running underneath Centralia. It divides the burning side from the side that is not burning. The underground stream i was told about supposedly runs right down the middle of Rt. 61. This is why the fire will never burn towards Aristes or Bloomsburg but instead will burn towards Ashland and Locast Gap.

Anyway, i just thought I'd write you and let you know who I am.

Thanks,
Francine Price

I just want to thank you for posting these pictures. I have been looking for explanations about this for years. My grandmother and grandfather lived in Centralia for most of their lives. Their names were Frank and Clara Schronick. My mother was born and raised here for a good portion of her childhood. I have the fondest memories of spending summers there with them and running up the hill to catch the ice cream man with my "nanny" in tow. We would walk up to the hilltop to go huckleberry picking and yes there was a church there. I would go and help her clean it. We were there every week at service.

The pictures are devastating to look at but not as bad as I thought. She lived on Locust Ave. more towards the gas station that was owned by the Cottington`s. All these people that I know have long since passed on but to look at these pictures it feels as if the town passed on with them. I miss my grandparents dearly and have longed to see what happened to this place I loved so much. Again, thank you for this site so that people will know it did exist and the memories that were made here will never be forgotten by anyone who had a part of it.
Evelyn, 1/8/2002 

Hello: 
Drove through Centralia on Thursday (8/30) on my way back from Bloomsburg. I had been in town a few times over the years to show my kids what what a mine fire had wrought. Our prayers to the hardy souls who have chosen to remain. I guess, in spite of everything there's no place like home.
Chris, 9/4/2001 

   
I am a "transplant" to the northeastern Pennsylvania coal region. I reside in Shenandoah, which is about 15 minutes from Centralia. 

I have been curious about the history of the fire and I find your site and all of the information here very interesting. 

I feel very badly for the people who had to cut their losses and move on because I know full well the situation of trying to get new work around here. I hope all are faring well. 

Kristine, 11/08/2001

   
Hello, I live in Cambridge, England. I wanted to say what a great site you have here. I knew nothing of Centralia until yesterday! I am currently reading "A Walk in the Woods", Bill Bryson's chronicle of walking the Appalachian Trail and learnt about the town and it's misfortune from it. Northern Light search engine through up your site. 
A particular thank you with regard to all the photos, especially the 360 degree ones. They have illuminated Bryson's text for me. I don't think anyone could convey the extent of the degradation with words alone although he is quite near the mark. 

Regards, Paul, England, 11/12/2001 

   
My family and I stumbled upon Centralia back in 1981 while visiting the Ashland Pioneer Coal Mine -driving thru the town of many empty houses, vacant lots, pipes coming out of the ground spewing smoke - a very eerie site. Asked my father about it (he lives in Selinsgrove) and have been touching base ever since - thru the internet or driving in the area whenever we visit. I will always feel a sad connection with the town - and will never forget the sights and smells over the past twenty years -including Rt. 61 and its "fire heaves" before they closed that section. They say that one can not feel the entire impact of the WTC disaster without visiting the site firsthand - this is also true of the Centralia fire! 
Alison Grosso, 11/24/2001

   
Hello my name is Nicole L. Davis Vergara and today is August 11, 2002. Today my husband, four year old daughter and I were in our way home from Knoebel's and I decided to stop with them and see Centralia a bit more closely. My husband is from Mexico and when I first told him about The Centralia Tragedy I don't think he really believed me until he saw things today for himself firsthand close up! I stopped near the cemetery at the edge of town headed toward Ashland down 61South because I saw smoke coming up from the ground. My husband asked what it was and I said get out and take a good smell. You could smell the faint odor of rotten eggs. Next I doubled back to a area where I had seen a sign that I am almost positive was not there the last time we passed through Centralia. The sign was red and white with black lettering warning of the underground mine fire and stated that ground was susceptible to suddenly sinking (or caving) in. We still proceeded though up around this knoll, and all three of us were shocked to see this large charred sinkhole that we will swear on a stack of bibles has gotten substantially larger since the last time we saw it! When we got out we could feel the heat coming up from the ground through our flimsy sandals and at that time decided it was best to venture no further and head back home to Reading, PA. I feel a great sadness when I reflect on everything we saw today, and even more so now that my husband and I together have done some research here on the internet. We are also both appalled by what we feel is the governments lack of support to all the residents past, present and future of Centralia, PA! We also both know now why those few remaining resident's stay no matter what the conditions...Centralia, PA is was and always will be their home!

Respectfully Submitted By,
Mrs.NicoleL.Davis Vergara of Reading, PA
Sunday, August 11, 2002

 

We planned a visit of almost four weeks to to the U.S. to go to the Fall Carlisle/Hershey PA car show. I was checking out the internet for anything interesting around Carlisle/ York and I came to this fantastic website about Centralia. This is why we visited Centralia.

First of all you can not believe what you are seeing when you walk over the hot pavement and smell the strange smoke that is coming out of the ground the second thing that catches the eye are the totally empty and abandoned streets. You can still see where the houses were, and everything is overgrown by trees bushes etc etc. We only saw one house left just across the Centralia municipal building.  When you see this it is almost unthinkable that this once was a town with 1100+ people.

We visited the Pioneer Coal mine in Ashland PA and what a great way to see, look, feel and smell how people worked
in the early 1900' s in the coalmines. a highly real recommended destination.

We learned that the coal vein (that is burning) goes all the way back to Ashland and it would take hundreds of years to "burn out".  We think Ashland is a typical American "Old Town" that looks great with only one main street and all the houses on the sides of the road. This is a adventure on it's own ..........for us in a very crowded Holland the parts that I really like about America is that they always leave everything as it is and build something new on another place/spot
so that we can still see how it was before!!

Please go and take a look at this great (what was a town) that is now almost a piece of History that is "Burning" since 1961 because maybe when the last people are gone, the government will remove and dig out the whole town to end the mining fire and although it is very tragic to look at it's also Very interesting to learn from.

Best regards From Holland, Jeroen Vervloet

 

 

 

My name is Alinsa, I was born there at Centralia, PA... I have not been there since 1991.
My mother had first hand experiences at Centralia, and matter of fact so did I. Not dealing with The mine fire, it was no trash fire though... everything on 'Silent Hill' was actually, well....... the truth, people there with stupid bad religions, and calling people a witch, my older sister went through that, even though She started the mine fire, by being burned by the Witch-Hunters (Yes that really happened) but whom ever told people it was a Trash Accident, they were wrong (COMPLETELY WRONG!). Bad Experiences yes it was.
 

 

   

The Town That Was

As the summer sun beats down
The ghastly heat rises up
From the charred remains
Of a town that was
And a people who were
Gone is the vibrant community
And beautiful neighborhood
Scattered bricks, crumpled roads,
Vent pipes releasing toxic gases
Are left to inhabit this land today.
Smoke pockets curl up to greet you
And the earth is hot to the touch
For the fire continues to rage
In a coal vein out of control
Beneath the town that was
One wonders how it all began
When and how it will all end
And what became of the people
who lived in the town that was.

Written and submitted by:
Deanna M. Helm

Copyright ©2000 Deanna Helm
     

To Whom It May Concern,
I had heard about Centralia, but I never could imagine in my wildest thoughts that what I saw was the same pictures I saw on your website. We visited Centralia 7/14/00, and I wrote this poem depicting my feelings about the site. After I submitted this for publication, my friend showed me your website, and suggested that you might be interested in this view of Centralia today from an outsiders point of view.  My prayers and thoughts for the Town That Was and the people who were.

Sincerely,
S. Deanna M. Helm


  
Other Links of Interesting
  
 

 

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.
Underground flames erase a community
  
Ghost Towns
Abandoned PA Turnpike
  
Defunct Amusement Parks
Abandoned Places
  
Knoebels Amusement Park
 
 


 
  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.