Pennsylvania Roads - Centralia

Everyone knows it's all the rage / To have a roadgeek Centralia page

Until 1962, Centralia was a thriving small town, a mining community situated between the large towns of Mount Carmel and Ashland. While the houses are packed close together in those towns, Centralians had more lawns and more green areas. They still do - a lot more, now, because most of the houses are gone. Blame a 45-year-old fire that's definitely not acting middle aged. The mines undercutting the surface caused the ground to be so thin that one giant heap of trash was enough to collapse into a tunnel. Unfortunately, the trash heap was aflame, and when fire finds coal, you know what happens. No matter what they pumped into the mine, the town was unable to stop the fire, which has now made its way south and east and is starting to approach Ashland. Having a small town like Centralia abandoned makes for a cool adventure, as these pages will show you, but the abandonment of Ashland would be catastrophic to the local economy. The spread of the fire caused undermining of four-lane PA 54/61 south of town, such that PA 61 was diverted onto Secondary Route 2002 around the area, and PA 54 was rerouted completely around Centralia via PA 901.

On the hill above the town

Along Park St.

Into the town

Abandoned PA 61/54

Now, the town of Centralia itself, sitting in a shallow valley, appears to be mostly safe from the fire, at least nowadays. The hills to the south are very smoky though, because as I said, the coal mines were close to the surface, and therefore so are the fires. In some places, the ground is spongy because it's so thin, and while Centralaholics love it there, I value my life and the ability to bring you the photos on these pages. Some people do still live in Centralia, and it does have a functioning municipal building, but once the fires started, Pennsylvania told people to get out, and has razed their houses thoroughly. Only the few, the proud, the Centralians remain, making the town that much more bucolic but preventing it from becoming a complete ghost town. I predict that someday soon, people will start moving back here, hungry for the tourism dollars, once they know that the fires aren't coming back into the town proper.

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