"The Pennsylvania Town That Went Up In Smoke" Centralia by calcaf38

Centralia Travel Guide: 11 reviews and 23 photos

Abandoned Town Over an Eternal Fire

As my VT friends know, I have an affection for somewhat ghoulish destinations. I have a whole page dedicated to the Eastern State Penitentiary, and the dream of my life is to visit Le Camp de la Transportation, in St. Laurent du Maroni. Don't ask.

I was always surprised that there was no dedicated page on VT about Centralia, the notorious small mining town in Pennsylvania. If you do a bit of search on the web, you will see that Centralia is quite a cult destination for the Urban Ruins crowd.

Back in 1962, a fire in the town dump ignited a vein of coal. The underground fire could not be extinguished. Efforts at controlling the fire were abandoned in 1981, when the subsiding ground almost swallowed a teenager. The residents voted to let the State of Pennsylvania buy their property. Since then, the town has been progressively evacuated.

To discourage vandalism, the abandoned buildings have been carefully demolished and cleared. At this time, there is little left to see in Centralia. When I first drove through, in 1984, it still looked somewhat like your average bleak Pennsylvania town. Not anymore.

Today, there are but a few houses left of the town. I have read somewhere that the remaining residents are technically squatters, tolerated by the state.

As for the fire, it is expected to burn for at least one thousand years.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Interesting, and open to all sorts of symbolism
  • Cons:Hardly uplifting
  • In a nutshell:An easy drive to a minor gate of hell
  • Last visit to Centralia: Apr 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (10)

Comments (14)

  • mtncorg's Profile Photo
    May 19, 2008 at 8:45 AM

    Here is a fascinating Keystone destination - looks a bit like the Big Island of Hawaii; the lava flows that is.

  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    Mar 9, 2008 at 3:44 AM

    amazing. havent heard of this town. shame about all that coal...!thanks for your tips. do they think anywhere in the town area could collapse?

  • glabah's Profile Photo
    Dec 31, 2007 at 1:29 AM

    When I saw Centralia listed, I was thinking of the Washington city - not this one. I remember hearing of this disaster when I was a kid, now I know the rest.

  • Purpleshade's Profile Photo
    Sep 8, 2007 at 6:49 PM

    I shouldn't think it would do you much good to breathe in those fumes! Lesley

  • craic's Profile Photo
    May 26, 2007 at 12:57 PM


  • mary2u99's Profile Photo
    May 3, 2007 at 11:16 AM

    Oliver, very nice picture of the blue dome church. You were standing on garbage... hmm maybe I would too for a photo. hahaha Great tips:-). Its sad most mining town become a ghost town.

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Apr 25, 2007 at 1:05 PM

    A very interesting page on the disaster that befell this small town! I had not heard of it before, so thanks for the education! Great pictures of the effects of this ecological disaster.

  • atufft's Profile Photo
    Apr 9, 2007 at 9:44 AM

    Very interesting Oliver. I suppose Pennsylvania has several of these industrial ghost towns of sorts, and Centralia is but one example.

  • Helenbb's Profile Photo
    Apr 9, 2007 at 7:21 AM

    yes.. welcome to shanghai . :)) and practise your mandarin .. maybe little shanghai dialect .. zhe li xian zai hao wen nuan :))

  • a2lopes's Profile Photo
    Apr 9, 2007 at 5:16 AM

    Thanks Oliver. Really "Off The Beaten Path" place :-)


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