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Explore Pennsylvania: Centralia

In a little over a week, Fresh Roasted Hosting is sponsoring a guided tour of the former town of Centralia, Pennsylvania.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the town and its history, Centralia is the site of one of the most well-known — and still very active — mine fires in the world.

You can read more about the Centralia mine fire here and here.  To make a very long story short, the fire started burning around Memorial Day of 1962.  A trash fire ignited a seam of coal, which snaked its way down to the maze of abandoned anthracite mines under the town.  Although the residents of the town suspected something was wrong, and in fact made several ill-fated attempts to contain the fire, it wasn’t until the early 1980s — when a sinkhole nearly swallowed a 12-year-old boy — that a media frenzy forced the government into action.  Over the course of a decade, the town was abandoned, demolished, and, aside from a few diehard residents, all but left for dead.

Today, you can still find Centralia easily enough on a map.  In fact, at first glance, it looks like most other Pennsylvania boroughs.  It’s not until you zoom in that you realize that all the streets are empty.  What look like structures from high up are nothing more than trees and debris.

To lead this tour, we’ve booked David DeKok, who is arguably THE authority on Centralia and its history.  David has been reporting on Centralia since 1976 and has amassed a large collection of photos of the town on his website.  The tour will last approximately two hours, after which our we’ll explore the town for photo ops (and believe me, there are plenty).

After Centralia, we’ll stop in the nearby town of Ashland (talk about foreshadowing) for lunch, and then visit the Pioneer Tunnel coal mine tour.  Although we’re paying David’s fee for his guided tour of the town, the Pioneer Tunnel tour costs $9.50 per person.

We’ll carpool from downtown Harrisburg at 8:30am sharp on Saturday, 10/20/12.  The trip is open to all ages and will involve quite a bit of walking.  For more details or to RSVP, please see the Facebook event page.  If you’d like to come but aren’t on Facebook, please drop me a line at [email protected] so we know how many to expect.

Hope to see you then!

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