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34 votes

Centralia (Ghost Town)

Centre St., Centralia, Pennsylvania 17921 USA

Free to Visit
Open Now
Tue 12a-12a
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“Underground mine fire burning since 1962”

This ghost town's status was gained by an underground mining fire in 1962 that forced its residents to evacuate. The fire is still burning today and experts predict that it could continue to burn for close to 250 years. 

The government bought Centralia and has demolished some of the buildings there, however, some are still standing. The smoke from the fire coils up through the cracks it has caused in the ground, giving a haunting fog like effect to the town. Most people agree that Centralia is the real life inspiration for the fictional town of Silent Hill. 

The land was claimed under eminent domain by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1992, and the few residents that refused to flee have been fighting a government condemnation ruling on the land since. In 2002, the US Postal Service finally revoked the town's zip code, and as of April 2013, the efforts to save the town have remained unsuccessful, leaving the residents to face eviction.

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

While the future of Centralia may be bleak, the ghost town remains open to public visitation, but whatever you do, don't breathe the fumes billowing from the cracks in the road - it's highly toxic.

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Reviewed by
Greg Newkirk

  • Expert
  • 315 Reviews
  • 321 Helpful
April 14, 2014

If you're in the area and looking for an eerie place to blow off some stream (pun intended), Centralia is certainly worth a look. Not much of the original town remains, but if you show up at the right time, particularly in the fall and winter), you won't have any problem seeing the steam billowing out from the huge cracks in the old road. It's crazy to stand there and realize that there's a fire under your feet that will probably continue burning long after you're gone. If you check it out, just remember not to stick your face in the steam - it's toxic!

9 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 9 Helpful
October 14, 2013

Centralia was also the inspiration for the town of Valkenvania in the movie "Nothing but Trouble."

There really isn't much to see in Centralia. There are a number of vents that have ruptured through the ground, but I highly HIGHLY recommend you avoid seeking them out unless you know which areas to avoid; as, there are areas where the ground is unstable, and precipices have been known to open up. Your best bet is to take Route 61 N out of Ashland, PA. Eventually, you will come to a sharp curve in the road, and you will see diagonal yellow lines painted between the parallel lines that divide the lanes. Off to the right, the shoulder of the road becomes broader. You can park there. If you look directly north you will see a dirt mound on the other side of the road. If you cross you will see the destroyed portion of Route 61. It is safe to walk on this road up to the town, and it's quite an eerie experience. About a half a mile up the road you will see the steam vents from the mine fire.

That's pretty much all there is to see. Most of the structures have been demolished, and the town itself is mostly just field with dilapidated roads running through it. Nevertheless, the town has an interesting history. Part of the saga of the Molly MaGuires played out here. The story of the mine fire itself is actually quite interesting. I recommend reading "Unseen Danger: A Tragedy of People, Government, and the Centralia Mine Fire" by David DeKok. He details how the fire was found, reported to authorities, and how the entire tragedy could have been prevented.

If you're in the area, and looking for adventure, I'd skip Centralia. Instead head up to Jim Thorpe, PA, and check out the old Carbon County Prison and the Asa Packer Mansion. Cheers!

9 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 5 Helpful
October 14, 2013

silent hill was inspired by this town

5 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 3 Helpful
October 14, 2013

Reminds me of Silent Hill

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 3 Helpful
September 18, 2013

I've been to Centralia several times in my life (pretty standard since I live in PA). The last time I went, I was quite disappointed. The buildings I'd remembered were long gone. The Highway is always a treat, but the rest of Centralia was just disappointing. If you've never been, it's definitely worth a look, but not if you're coming from far away. I always recommend going in the fall/winter because it's easier to find the smoke leaks.

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 3 Reviews
  • 2 Helpful
August 10, 2014
Rated 2.0

Unfortunately, there's not too much to see in the summer. No smoke was visible at all when we visited in August...just empty roads with grassy areas in between. The locals told us that the fire has moved away and isn't too smokey anymore. Oh well, still enjoying poking around! Will have to come back when it's cold outside.

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
September 14, 2014
Rated 3.0

Most is all gone:


1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 2 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
September 09, 2014
Rated 2.0

In the '90s, Centralia was worth the trip, but these days, there's nothing left to see but some steam/smoke rising from the ground on very cold days.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 5 Reviews
  • 5 Helpful
July 06, 2014

I visited here with a photographer friend during an 18 degree, snowy weekday morning and saw dozens of other urban explorers. Don't let this town scare you, sure it's creepy in the moments you're alone, but that shouldn't last long. We began seeing other people upon minutes after our arrival. I highly suggest google earthing it before going so you can know where to go. See graffiti highway or (old rt 66), the old church, both graveyards and the sink hole and that's pretty much it. be very careful though because it is possible to fall through.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 39 Reviews
  • 27 Helpful
July 01, 2014

Want to go back and explore more! It was eerie and made for a few good photos, and if I had had more time, I think it would have been even cooler. I'd like to hit it up in the winter when the smoke/steam would be more visible.

1 person found this review helpful

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Centralia (Ghost Town)

Centre St.
Centralia, Pennsylvania
17921 USA


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