Centralia is a town in the Coal Region of Pennsylvania. It is now a ghost town, having been abandoned due to an underground coal fire underneath the town. The fire has been burning since 1962, the full extent of the danger became known in 1979, and the town was abandoned between 1984 and 1992. In 1992, Pennsylvania claimed eminent domain over the remaining houses in the burough.
Centralia is two miles north of Ashland, Pennsylvania and can be reached on state highways 54 and 61. Part of the highway between Ashland and Centralia has been rerouted around the site of the fire.
Park your car at either end of where the highway has been rerouted around the fire, and walk along the old portion of the road to see spots where smoke is coming out of cracks in the crumbling roadbed.
Drive around the streets of the old town. Most of the houses have been demolished but a few remain standing. A few people still live in Centralia despite the state having condemned the remaining houses, so remember to respect their privacy and property.
Nearby Ashland offers food, gas, lodging, and a coal mine tour at Pioneer Tunnel. The mine tour includes an underground mine tour, and an above-ground narrow gauge railroad ride to an old bootleg mine at a site where Centralia is visible at a distance. The same vein of anthracite that is burning underneath Centralia extends through Ashland and can be seen as part of the underground portion of the Pioneer Tunnel tour, although the fire at Centralia is not expected to threaten Ashland for several decades.
If Centralia wasn't enough to quench your thirst for underground fire pits, and you are willing to drive five hours in the desert in a country infamous for visa difficulties, Darvaza, the only other place in the world quite like Centralia, awaits.
|Routes through Centralia|
|Shamokin Dam ← Shamokin ←||W E||→ Jct → Pottsville → Reading|