Centralia, Pennsylvania OR, “Who’s Bright Idea WAS This?”

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Guest post by Emily Wilberg 

On a drive from DC to New Hampshire we took a quick detour to see Centralia (or, more accurately, to see what is LEFT of Centralia.)

Centralia is a small Pennsylvania town that was probably like any other small Pennsylvania town until 1962 when, in an effort to clean up, the town dump was set on fire. A coal seam underneath the town started to burn and attempts to put the fire out have been unsuccessful. It still burns to this day. At some point the town was condemned. In 2013 there were only 7 residents who remained after negotiating with the government to stay in their homes.


All buildings and homes have been removed but you can still see the sidewalks and driveways. A common spot to stop is a stretch of highway known as “Graffiti Highway.” We had no problem during our visit but I heard that sometimes the state highway enforces the posted “No Trespassing” (which started, I’m told, in response to a planned event to have a barbie 4-wheeler race at the location.) I thought it was a fascinating, if brief, stop.

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