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.
Pennsylvania Route 61, an abandoned and closed off highway, is a popular sight in the town. Walk along the highway and you can see thick layers of diverse graffiti as well as cracks in the road that smoke will occasionally come out of.
The Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church can be reached by driving on the local roads.
Immediately in front of the main parking spaces next to the highway is the main graveyard of the town. It is, for the most part, open to visitors. Please remember to be respectful of the gravestones and do not enter any of the gated portions of the town without permission.
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 Pionner Tunnel tour, although the fire at Centralia is not expected to threaten Ashland for several decades.
The smoke and gasses coming out of cracks in the ground or road are toxic. You can become ill from breathing in these vapors.
Be mindful that the ground is potentially unstable due to the mine fire and is prone to sudden collapse, although this is unlikely to happen. When driving or walking in the area, understand that you are running the risk of serious injury or death.
Make sure to keep aware of your surroundings and other tourists. While the townsfolk mostly keep to themselves, many of the tourists who are attracted to Centralia are rowdy teenagers who are interested in adding graffiti to the infamous highway. While crime is rare, Centralia is an isolated town and law enforcement authorities are far away.