Road Trip; June 25, 2007: Part IIa
The main reason of our trip was to visit Centralia. The mine fire began in 1962 as the result of trash burning. Some conspiracy theorists say the fire was started by the government because they wanted access to the coal in the area, but as much as I love a good conspiracy theory, I highly doubt that is true. There's no way to safely get to the coal underneath Centralia. Governments of all levels bungled Centralia, but I don't think it was malicious. Even though the land was taken by Pennsylvania by eminent domain and the town's zip code was revoked, people are still allowed to live there. The town received national media attention in 1981 when a 150 foot deep sinkhole opened underneath a boy who was luckily rescued. It took people over a decade to realize the extent of the damage to the town and eventually the population dwindled. In the 2000 census there were 21 people living in Centralia. I'm sure there are fewer than that today, as we only saw about 3 or 4 houses. The first stop on our trip was St. Ignatius Cemetery. There are more dead people in Centralia than there are living, and the cemeteries were very well-kept.
We could see this orthodox church in the distance from St. Ignatius. I'm not sure if they still have services there or not.
Here's the church close up.
Apparently Centralia had a large orthodox population.
This is the town square.