The Abandoned Town of Centralia, Pennsylvania

Image by Proper Pictures

Image by Proper Pictures

In the small town of Ashland, Pennsylvania, Route 61 takes an unexplained detour, while a sign saying “Keep Out” straddles the original highway.  Anyone who ignores the warning will arrive in the abandoned town of Centralia, where an underground mine fire has been burning since 1962.

Images by Lyndi&Jason

Images by Lyndi&Jason

Residents using an abandoned mine pit as a landfill accidentally ignited a vein of anthracite coal.  Despite efforts to stymie the subterranean blaze and millions of dollars spent, the fire still burns to this day.  It is estimated that the eight-mile vein could feed the inferno for upto 250 years, and the town has been all but condemned as a result.  Some houses still stand but most have been demolished.  The bulk of the town’s population can be found in its Russian Orthodox cemetery, while a time capsule sealed in 1966 is set to be re-opened by former residents in 2016.  In its heyday, Centralia had five hotels, seven churches, 19 general stores, two jewelry stores and 26 saloons.  For more information and some great pictures, be sure to check out our friends at Forgotten Pennsylvania.

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  • Spleeny

    Are they still going to open it in 2016 or has it been burgularized?

  • Tom

    My guess is not. I think the 2016 date was an optimistic assumption back in the ’60s that the fire would be extinguished and the town habitable again. But I guess they’re still going to open it anyway! But the fire that’s still raging, the toxic gases and those mad fissures in the roads should put pay to any ideas to move back in!

  • Creepy but totally wonderful.

  • Andrew Shecktor

    Centralia is not a all like Silent Hill! But it is great fodder for a real story. I wrote a novel, Centralia PA, Devils Fire (Amazon) that depicts with historical accuracy the history of Centralia and combines the fantasy of demons in the mines (metaphorical representations of the mining companies and mine owners.) Much
    better tale than Silent Hill… There are a couple of new documentaries out and coming out on the town and also a few new historical books written by local authors that are worth looking at. More information on my book is at The time capsule sadly had to be opened prematurely in October, 2014, due to damage by vandals.


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