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.
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.