Centralia (Pennsylvania)

Centralia is a borough and ghost town in the Coal Region of Pennsylvania, atop a mountain ridge north of Ashland and east of Mount Carmel.

Map of Centralia (Pennsylvania)

. . . Centralia (Pennsylvania) . . .

Centralia was founded as “Bulls Head” in 1811; the 155 acre Centralia Borough was incorporated in 1862. The primary local industry was the extraction of anthracite coal. Many of the original workers were Irish; there was a long history of labour disputes. Ukrainian immigrants soon followed. The borough had nearly 3,000 people at its peak; there were 1,100 people in Centralia in 1962.

Centralia is now a ghost town with a population of less than five. An underground coal fire has been burning underneath the town 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 borough. The main highway has been re-routed away from the fire; most of the structures in the town have been demolished, leaving a damaged wasteland of empty streets.

Portions of the 2006 horror film Silent Hill were inspired by the story of Centralia as recounted to screenwriter Roger Avary by his father, a mine engineer; the picture is nominally set in West Virginia.

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.

You can drive around the highways. Most of the surface streets, however, are in poor condition.

  • 40.795264-76.3390611 Byrnesville, near Byrnesville Road. This small town located near Centralia has also been abandoned. There is now just a clearing – all the buildings have been demolished. (updated Dec 2017)
  • 40.795862-76.3440361 Graffiti Highway, Pennsylvania Route 61. When the underground fire destroyed Centralia, it also destroyed the Route 61 to the south of the town. Numerous cracks in the road appeared, and it was eventually decided that Route 61 should be re-routed along Byrnesville Road, where it goes now. (updated Dec 2017)
  • 40.80596-76.3409651 Municipal Building, 600 Locust Ave. The only modern building left in Centralia, this building was constructed in 1978. Local emergency services are based here. (updated Dec 2017)
  • 40.80516-76.3422391 Railroad Avenue. This road is wider than most of the roads in Centralia because the railroad track once ran along here, but has since been removed. (updated Dec 2017)

. . . Centralia (Pennsylvania) . . .

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. . . Centralia (Pennsylvania) . . .

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