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Inside the abandoned Pennsylvania ghost town that’s been burning since 1962

Inside the abandoned Pennsylvania ghost town that’s been burning since 1962

Inside the abandoned Pennsylvania ghost town that’s been burning since 1962

Pennsylvania has plenty of historic downtowns to explore, beautiful natural sites that have to be seen to be believed, and even ghost towns that could be the setting for a horror novel. Unfortunately, Centralia is one of the latter. The town of Centralia was once a symbol of Pennsylvania’s mining success. Despite its small population of about 1,000, Centralia became a mining center thanks to its coal deposits. In 1962, a fire broke out in Centralia’s coal mines that has not been extinguished to this day. People continue to live in many ghost towns across the United States, including Centralia, though perhaps not for long. As underground fires consumed the mine tunnels, the town began to crumble, crack, and release dangerous carbon monoxide and other gases into the air. Now the town itself is cut off from automobile traffic and more deserted than ever — and yes, Centralia is still burning.

Today, visitors must hike a bit to reach the town of Centralia. The Graffiti Highway, part of Route 61, was once the main attraction for entering Centralia, but it has since been covered over with dirt to discourage vandalism and visitors who come here for the wrong reasons.

Also, visitors should keep in mind that this is not a typical trip to a ghost town. The fires beneath Centralia are estimated to burn for at least 500 years, if not longer, meaning the ground will be unstable for some time.

Throughout the village, visitors will see signs warning of this danger and advising them to be careful around particularly dangerous spots or turn back.

In the early 1990s, people fled the city and all properties were foreclosed, but at least five residents remained as of 2020. Since the fires are not expected to stop anytime soon, the remaining residents may continue to live in Centralia until they die, at which point their properties would also be subject to foreclosure.

Initially, the population dwindled due to the increasing danger posed by the city’s carbon monoxide levels and the instability of the land on which it sits. There are still some things in the city that have been left behind and remain largely untouched.

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    First published: July 8, 2024, 11:27 IST