Tag Archives: history

Strange Places- Centrilia, PA

If you’ve seen the movie “Silent Hill,” you witnessed a current ghost town that was once prosperous and populated. What you may not know is this seemingly fictional town actually exists.

“Silent Hill,” the town, was modeled after Centralia, Pennsylvania. This once-thriving town is now all, but empty. Only a few residents remain due to the hazardous conditions. It is ironically located near a town called “Ashland.” Visitors who don’t follow the detour will run into large road signs stating, “Area subject to mine subsidence and toxic gas emissions.”

In the early 1960s, Centralia was a bustling mining town. It was a town with stores, diners, and surrounded by homes and residences. There was an old abandoned mine used for burning trash. What residents didn’t know was that an exposed vein of coal remained open in the depths of the mine. As you can imagine, all the burning drifted towards this fuel. The fire spread to this vein and the rest is history.

Many attempts through the years were made to extinguish this fire, everything from countless gallons of water in the beginning to Federal attempts through the years. They haven’t stopped burning and scientists estimate the fires could continue to burn for 100 years or more.

The growing concern is the fire will continue to consume all coal underground and, by doing so, spread throughout the subterranean areas of the region. If this should happen, the surrounding towns would also need to be evacuated.

Want to learn more about this mysterious place? Here are some links:


Coal Mine Terminology

The Appalachian coal fields are rich in lore, legend and infamy. Here are some common terms used from the hey-day of Appalachian Coal Mines.

    Afterdamp- Toxic fumes that occur after an explosion within a mine. Residual gases often include: carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen, often hydrogen sulfide and other poisonous substances.
    Blackdamp- Carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen, a combination of suffocating gases found in mines.
    Coke- A product produced by burning off volatile elements in coal. Coke was shipped to steel and iron mills.
    Company Store- A general store or mercantile where goods were sold to employees at mining camps.
    Coal Dock- Small mines sent truck loads of coal to the trainyard. The dock was used so trucks could unload their coal into the train cars.
    Coal Dust- Flammable particles of coal created by blasting and general mining. Coal dust often caused many catastrophic explosions when ignited from fireshot or open flame laterns.
    Fireshot or Shot- Black powder- When mine walls were cut (a.k.a. undercut) miners would then drill holes into the wall. The openings would be stuffed with black powder and detonated. The explosion blasted out new coal.
    Firedamp- Methane gas. This highly explosive gas is often hidden in pockets when mining.
    Lantern- Kerosene lamps were often taken into the mines when no electricity was present.

A complete list of these terms can be found at the House of Horror.

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