Centralia, the mouth of Hell

15 marzo 2007

In 1962, a little fire in Centralia (Pennsylvania) migrated into an exposed vein of anthracite coal under the town. The flames on the surface were successfully extinguished, but the coal continued to burn underground for many years, so that in 1984 the fire was completely out of control and the city had to be evacuated.

Nowadays, Centralia is an abandoned and ghostly place. The fire still burns beneath the town and there is enough coal to feed the fire for up to 250 years.

The ruins of Centralia no longer exists on some maps. Most of the buildings have been razed, and at casual glance the area now appears to be a meadow with several paved streets through it. According to Wikipedia, the only indications of the fire are low round metal steam vents in the south of the borough, and several signs warning of underground fire, unstable ground, and carbon monoxide.

Additional smoke and steam can be seen coming from an abandoned portion of Pennsylvania Route 61, which was closed in the 1990s after several large cracks appeared on the road, the area just behind the hilltop cemetery, and various other cracks in the ground scattered about the area.

As Alan Bellows explains in his fantastic article, the fire drew national media attention in 1981, when the ground crumbled beneath the feet of twelve-year-old boy who almost died.

In the 1970s, a gas station owner had noticed that the contents of his underground fuel storage tank seemed hot, so he measured the gasoline's temperature, and found it to be a troubling 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

In 1984, Congress allocated more than $42 million for relocation efforts. Most of the residents accepted buyout offers and moved to nearby towns. A few families opted to stay despite warnings from state officials, but in 1992, Pennsylvania claimed eminent domain on all properties, condemning all the buildings within the borough.

More info and sources: 1, 2, 3, 4 / See more: Abandoned places

27 Respuestas (Deja un comentario)

  1. Rick Sparks dijo...
  2. This is what happens when nature is allowed to run rampant! We must stop nature at all costs in order to insure man's ability to set fire to things is secured for the future.


    (sarcasm mode: initiate deactivate)

  3. Pierre-Alexandre dijo...
  4. As usual, excellent pictures and well-documented comments.

  5. Brian J dijo...
  6. Nice article. Excellent photos, too. I was raised about 5 miles from Centralia.

    Reminded me of my little league baseball team, and how no one wanted to play left field because of sinkhole rumors.

    However, "mouth of hell" might be a tad melodramatic, no? All I see is a vein of coal burning underground, and a decent example of the state's use of its police power (i.e., eminent domain).

  7. Anónimo dijo...
  8. Hey Sparks, you take away from the humor of your statement with the explanation that you were being sarcastic. Give people a little credit!

  9. Gretchen dijo...
  10. my first roommate would talk about this place all the time...i have never been there but it seems quite dreary

  11. Anónimo dijo...
  12. You'd be surprised, my fellow anonymous person... or maybe not.

  13. Anónimo dijo...
  14. Are these your words and pictures? Because I could swear I've read that word-for-word on other sites with the same pictures, and plagiarism isn't cool.

  15. Faizal dijo...
  16. thats weird!

  17. Bob dijo...
  18. In case you didn't know, this is the town the Film version of Silent Hill was Fashioned after.

    http://www.offroaders.com/album/centralia/centralia.htm

    Also, my Stepfather was one of the workers who worked on slowing the spread of the fire in the 90's... He used to come home covered in Fly Ash (Hot, sooty, and EXTREMELY Bad for the lungs).

  19. xoc dijo...
  20. What a disaster. I wonder if those responsible have been brought to justice?

    If the ground is so hot, why aren't there any attempts to create geothermal enegy? Why not have 250 years of free electricity, since the CO2 is being generated anyway.

  21. Anónimo dijo...
  22. Free...hahaha

  23. Live television dijo...
  24. Reminds me of the movie Silent Hill - the town is deserted because of a fire that happens under the ground.

  25. Anónimo dijo...
  26. according to wikipedia, the town in the silent hill movie was actually modeled after centralia, pa. also apparently the videogame Resident Evil 5 will have a town modeled after centralia in it.

  27. Josiah dijo...
  28. This is exactly why you can't just throw some water on a camp fire and leave. IT'LL STILL BURN!

  29. The Pandora Effect dijo...
  30. nice entry! just wondering what wld happen if someone just travelled to that place at night, unknowing of the danger.. -shivers-

  31. Anónimo dijo...
  32. "the trees are bleached from the fumes". I see trees like that all the time. I don't live near any coal fires. This is what happens to dead trees. Im sure the heat had something to do with the death of the trees but they were not "bleached". Also, all smoke that I've ever inhaled has burned my lungs. I don't think that Centralia is the only place this happens.

  33. Zack dijo...
  34. I love about 20 miles from Centralia, and the last time I visited there it looked different than in your photos. It seems like it's gotten worse.

  35. Anónimo dijo...
  36. I think the guy had a little muscle twitch when the match magically lit off the rock. The music also adds to the drama.

  37. Rick Sparks dijo...
  38. "A 16 marzo, 2007 22:12, Anónimo dijo...
    Hey Sparks, you take away from the humor of your statement with the explanation that you were being sarcastic. Give people a little credit!"

    -----------------

    You would think so, huh? Even with the clarification, I received the following anonymous comment on my site - under an R.I.A.A. article, no less:

    Anonymous said...
    RE: your commentary on underground fire in PA. Lightening starts thousands of fires each day naturally. So do volanos' and other earth core related fissure. They also emit noxious gasses. This fire is nothing. It is about as significant as you in the realm of the cosmos. Your mentality appearw to be on par with other deep thinkers like a grapefuit or al gore.

    8:18 AM
    ----------------------------------

    You can lead a dehydrated horse to water but he may still spit in your face for what amounts to no apparent reason beyond a desire to fight (anonymously, that is). What a turd!

  39. Christine dijo...
  40. I enjoyed it very much thanks

  41. Anónimo dijo...
  42. I was in Centralia in maybe 2003. At that time there were still plenty of buildings, and it seemed as though there were still people living there. In fact, two main roads go right through the center of town, and there were a couple of businesses that appeared to still be operating. There's a small park at the crossroads of the two main roads, and people had posted tributes to their town: teddy bears, and signs that said "We love Centralia", etc. I didn't see any people, and it was eerily quite -- except for the pickup truck that roared past me as I was taking photos, and the yahoo in the passenger seat who screamed at me to "get the F back where I came from".

  43. Psycho Z dijo...
  44. I live very near Centralia and I thought this was well done. For anyone who thinks this mine fire is no big deal, ask the people whose homes were razed by the government's ineptness in dealing with this situation. In the end, no one really cared about a little coal town...

  45. jersey jim dijo...
  46. I can add a little information about the Centralia area since I lived about three miles away in Mt. Carmel. I moved from Mt. Carmel in 1956 and the fires were raging underground long before that. I was told by my father who mined coal in the area that they started when garbage which was dumped over the side of a strip mine was set on fire and started a vein of coal burning. it was common practice in the early to mid 1900's to dump garbage over the side of a strip mine and occasionally someone would put a match to it to reduce the size and get rid of the smell and vermin.

    There was a slag bank in near by Pottsville which had blue flames burning all the time from gas escaping from underground. These fires burned for years. Last year when I visited the area the slag mountain was completely gone and a Walmart was located near by.

    The old Rt. 61 shown in the pictures is still there and the new rerouted Rt. 61 is slightly east of the old highway. Last easter when I went through Centralia i didn't notice any homes. The original home owners were reluctant to give up their homes because they weren't offered very much for them and they lost the mineral rights underground which are considerable if they can keep the fires burning for another 250 years.

    In the early 1970's going through Centralia with out of state license plates was a sure way to get a motor vehicle violation, evidently one of the only sources of income for the town at that time. There was a renoun trap at the stop sign where by the local police officer would stop out of state motorists and mail them a ticket for not making a proper stop at the stop sign.

    There is an interesting mining museum in Ashland a few miles south of Centralia and you can acutally ride a lokie (coal car on train tracks) into a coal mine. It's worth seeing.

    I have some interesting memorabalia on the mines in this area, some old geological maps locating various veins of rock and coal and some old mining reports detailing mine accidents.

    Many of the old Colleries are gone and strip mining is still in full swing turning mountains upside down. It's amazing the amount of environmental destruction caused by coal mining and seeing it in person is the only way to get the full impact.

  47. Anónimo dijo...
  48. Nice article on Centralia PA Mine Fire. There's a lot of good info and photos on this site as well:

    http://www.offroaders.com/album/centralia/centralia.htm

  49. Carlo dijo...
  50. Good Job! :)

  51. Rosie dijo...
  52. This is a great site. Thank you for your information. I THANK YOU I SALUTE YOU IT,S A AMZING SITE.

  53. Manuj dijo...
  54. Simlar fires are raging underground in Jharia coalfields of India. Scores of villages are being evacuated and it poses a threat to national highway and railway track too.