Centralia Off The Beaten Path

  • Off The Beaten Path
    by calcaf38
  • Off The Beaten Path
    by calcaf38
  • Off The Beaten Path
    by calcaf38

Most Recent Off The Beaten Path in Centralia

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    The town: what's left

    by calcaf38 Updated Apr 8, 2007

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    Only a few houses remain. Some of those houses were originally part of rows of houses. With their neighbors demolished, they look as odd as a single tooth in the mouth of a crone. The town building is also still standing.

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    The closed section of Route 61

    by calcaf38 Updated Apr 8, 2007

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    This is the most striking part of the visit. A penny plain segment of American road which turns abruptly into a volcano of sorts. The fumes do not smell very bad, but you do feel light headed after a while. The whole scene is littered with tires, mattresses, and beer bottles. Graffiti abounds. An otherworldly moss grows inside the cracks. The place is very silent, with no birds around.

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    The town: the church

    by calcaf38 Written Apr 8, 2007

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    From most of the town, you can see a church with robin-egg-blue domes almost hidden in the woods. This is as close as I got to it. The church is more attractive from afar than up close. I took this photo while standing in garbage.

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    First stop

    by calcaf38 Written Apr 8, 2007

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    Route 61 makes an awkward turn. You can't miss it. This is where you want to park to explore the closed section of the highway. On the other photo, you will see the warning sign next to the parking spot.

    Just climb over a mound of dirt, and you will find yourself about 1/3 mile from the cracked and smoking section of the road.

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    Approaching

    by calcaf38 Written Apr 8, 2007

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    From Interstate 81, you will exit on Route 61 North. This is about one hour North of Harrisburg and 30 minutes South of Hazleton (a place that has garnered dubious fame with its anti-immigrant measures. Why people who come from warm and colorful countries would want to settle down in suicide-grey Hazleton is another mystery altogether).

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    That old black magic

    by calcaf38 Written Apr 8, 2007

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    This is coal country. Not properly speaking industrial: there are hundreds of acres of forest between the sites where coal is being extracted. Yet the nature looks hurt, malnourished. This might be due to the season of my visit, a chilly early spring day with occasional snow flurries.

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    Let's get situated - Part A

    by calcaf38 Written Apr 8, 2007

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    In order to understand what has disappeared in Centralia, you need to keep your eyes open while driving there. You will go through one small town after another, some of which are built rather rakishly on the side of steep hills. Here are a couple of shots from Ashland and Mount Carmel.

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    Must be hard to get too...

    by ChuckG Written Sep 2, 2006

    [WIKIPEDIA]
    A few families opted to stay, despite warnings from state officials. In 1992, Pennsylvania claimed eminent domain on all properties in the borough, condemning all the buildings within the borough. A subsequent legal battle waged by residents with the state was unsuccessful. In 2002 the US Postal Service revoked the borough's Zip Code, 17927.
    [edit]

    Centralia today

    Only a handful of occupied homes remain in Centralia. Most of the buildings have been razed, and at casual glance the area now appears to be a meadow with several paved streets through it, and some areas are being filled with new-growth forest. Most of Centralia's roads and sidewalks are overgrown with brush, although many areas appear mowed.[2] The remaining church in the borough holds weekly Saturday night services, and the borough's four cemeteries are still well-maintained. Centralia's cemeteries now have a far greater population than the town, including one on the hilltop that has smoke rising around and out of it.

    The only signs of the fire, which underlies some 400 acres (1.6 km²), spreading along four fronts, are low round metal steam vents in the south of the borough. Additional smoke and steam can be seen coming from an abandoned portion of Pennsylvania Route 61, which was closed in the 1990s after several large cracks appeared on the road, as well as from the area just behind the hilltop cemetery, and from various other cracks in the ground scattered about the area. However, the underground fire is still burning, and will continue to do so for the indefinite future. There are no current plans to extinguish the fire, which is consuming an eight-mile seam containing enough coal to fuel it for 250 years.[1]

    The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania did not renew the relocation contract at the end of 2005, and the fate of the remaining residents is uncertain.[3]

    It is expected that many former residents will return in 2016 to open a time capsule buried in 1966 next to the veterans' memorial

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    The town: more sources of fumes

    by calcaf38 Written Apr 8, 2007

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    Here and there, you find more spots where smoke pours out. As on the volcano highway, there is a good bit of litter, and the vegetation is moribund.

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    The town: what's gone

    by calcaf38 Written Apr 8, 2007

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    Although most houses have been carefully cleared away, there remains the grid of streets, with incongruous stop signs regulating the absence of traffic.

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    Let's get situated - Part B

    by calcaf38 Written Apr 8, 2007

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    The area is populated with the descendants of Polish and Ukrainian immigrants. You will see some churches which don't look American at all.

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Centralia Off The Beaten Path

Reviews and photos of Centralia off the beaten path posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Centralia sightseeing.

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