...is always exciting, yes. What is its story? Why did it transform into a ghost town? Who were the people staying there and how did it affect them? The questions run amok in my mind.
While reading a travel writer, Bill Bryson to be precise, I came upon the story of this town called Centralia in Eastern Pennysylvania. Now, maybe some of you have already heard about it, but this is a first for me. I am curious, and intrigued, and I am contemplating putting it on my must-see list.
Centralia became a ghost town because in 1962 a fire on the edge of town ignited a coal seam. And thereafter, as much as the fire department tried to douse the fire, it kept springing back to life. Bryson quite aptly makes an analogy to 'those tricky birthday candles that go out for a moment and then spontaneously reignite'. Now what is of crucial importance to this incident is that Centralia was a coal town mining anthracite which is hugely combustible. The fire therefore never really died out.
Yet people continued to live there. Till two major incidents forced them to do a rethink. In 1979, the owner of a fuel station found the temperature in his undergroud tanks scaling up to 172 degrees farenheit while roads started caving in. The second major incident took place in 1981 when a young boy called Todd Domboski, aged 12, almost felt into a pit spewing noxious fumes of carbon monoxide in his grandmother's yard. The town was abandoned slowly but apparently a few people are still hanging onto their houses and residing there.
The same year, in 1981, The Time magazine also did a story on it calling it The Hottest Town in America.
The photographs I have culled are images of the town that smokes on, its caved in roads and the last image is of Domboski staring at the pit he was rescued from.