Centralia: The (Almost-)Abandoned Town with a Fire Burning Under It

fifty years ago, a fire started in a coal seam underneath the town of centralia, pennsylvania, forcing the government to evacuate the populace. (for more about this town and its history, see this story in usa today.)

it’s in the middle of nowhere, but getting there you will drive through some of the most amazing scenery. maybe it’s because i grew up in los angeles, but passing through these mountains bursting with lush, green trees — it really has no comparison. but i digress. i got lost once i reached town because i misunderstood and thought that there was just one highway 61, the destroyed/abandoned one, so i ended up driving a circuitous route amongst the neighboring towns until i finally looked at google maps, which lays everything bare. be warned: the upper part of the town (actually, the southern part, at the bottom of the rectangle below), is all very uneven gravel roads. also, the abandoned highway 61 (definitely the main attraction) slopes slightly downhill, so save some energy for the walk back up!

remember that there are still a handful of people who live there and refuse to leave, so respect their property and privacy.

the red dot shows the beginning of the abandoned part of highway 61; the blue rectangle shows where i took the “city” pictures.

What's left of Centralia

What’s left of Centralia

So weird. It's a town that used to be. Just roads left.

So weird. It’s a town that used to be. Just roads left.

Shoes and toys

Shoes and toys (definitely not left over from 50 years ago)

#nofilter

Mattress and flowers (also not from 50 years ago)

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Asphalt left to crumble

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Sad

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A typical Centralia street

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On the side of the current Highway 61

The old Highway 61 just ends

The old Highway 61 just ends

Rumors of ground being hot due to fire underneath are correct

Rumors of ground being hot due to fire underneath are correct. Unfortunately, no steam coming up from the crack today ­čÖü

panorama of the destroyed highway 61:

there are conspiracy theorists, though, as evidenced by these two signs:

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