Sunday, May 17, 2009

Centralia Regalia . . .

There are no end of strange and wonderful tales out there in the wide world. I would be curious to know how many of you around the blogosphere have heard of Centralia, Pennsylvania before now ? And if you have heard of it, have you ever been there ? I'd love to hear your stories.
I went there after reading about it in the Philadelphia Inquirer back in the late 1980's. The town of Centralia fell victim to an underground coal seam fire that has been burning for almost 50 years, having started in 1961 or thereabouts. Nearly as old as me ! If Centralia had been a country ham, it would be very well smoked indeed by now. Practically all the former residents were smoked out, abandoned houses abound there.
One website on Centralia has quite alot of history and photographs if you're interested in learning more and weren't familiar with the story already. . . In the "Pictures From Today" section of that site, there are a few shots of the Centralia Cemetery among the several photo galleries.
This website contains a little more info and photos about Centralia, including an intriguing update :
"June 2000: The town is now more accessible with Rt. 61 opened up. The fire continues and has moved up into the cemetery, smoke visible wafting up from around the gravestones. "
Wow ! What an image ! I wonder if anyone out there has any photos of the smoky cemetery. . . I would have loved to have seen that. . . And for the long term residents of the cemetery, no disrespect intended, but I can't help but wonder if they weren't getting a little toasty with all that fire and brimstone right underneath them ?!? A little taste of hell . . . As for the two photos here, I took them when I visited Centralia in 1988. Needless to say, I would love to go back there today with a slightly more "modern" camera.




Laurie said...

Mr Bufo, Thanks for putting up your pictures of Centralia. I have long had an interest in the place and have a burning desire to hot foot it there to take a look. I am reminded of that old hit, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.
It was first drawn to my attention by Bill Bryson in one of his wonderfully funny travel books - he being one of my two favourite naturally funny men - Garrison Keillor is the other.
I hope someone can provide you with a photograph of the smoking cemetery.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I saw a documentary once about this place and how they tried and failed to put out the underground fires. I believe there is a computer game and also a movie called "Silent Hill" which is set in a town that was evacuated for such an underground fire.

jeff said...

Oh Owen ! Quand tu fais un barbecue... préviens... La vache ! Mais t'as vu la fumée ! T'as mis quoi avec le charbon de bois...? Du kérozène...? Non, là c'est pas marrant... désolé !...
Je te dis pas les voisins... C'est un complot Owen ! je te le dis !...

Bon, allez... Je vois que tu n'as pas envie de rire ce soir ! Reelax mec ! Tout ça n'est qu'un blog !...

Ciao amigo !

Amy said...

Wow, it's hard to imagine a fire burning for 50 years. I had not previously heard of Centralia, and I'm going to go read more about the place now.

Great post Owen!

Catherine said...

Je comprends les habitants, le chauffage central par le sol est très néfaste pour la santé.

RIP sur les tombes a quelque chose d'incongru dans cette ville. Roast In Peace, pour l'occasion.

Jamais entendu parler. Grace à toi, je sais où immigrer lorsque ma note d'électricité deviendra inabordable.

Owen said...

Catherine, superbe réponse, merci ! En fait, n'oublie surtout pas ta masque à gaz lors du démenagement... et oui, cela était certainement un des premiers essais de chauffer par le sol, mais ils on mal calculé leur coup... Roast In Peace... tu es terrible ! En tout cas, l' EDF va hausser les prix bientôt, donc préparer dès maintenant la demande de carte verte...

Amy, more for your reading list, I know, but this one is a cookin' story, you might say ! Which reminds me, as for reading, how are you getting on with Abbey ???

Jeff34, ce n'est pas un cas d'un bar-b-que, la vache, c'était tout un troupeau de vaches, toutes roties en même temps... avec des camion citernes pleins de bière, et oui, c'était vachement bon !

Lone Grey S., had not heard of Silent Hill, will keep an eye out for it. In any case, I think Centralia could be a little corner of squirrel heaven, endless possibilities for roasting chestnuts there... just don't let that bushy tail get singed !

Laurie, Laurie ! I thought we discussed this punning business ?!? Seems to me you better cool your heels a little before running off to Centralia, most people tend to shy away from the place because of that old expression... once burned, twice shy... also, the people there have bad tempers, which is understandable given the circumstances, they are usually fuming about things...

Roxana said...

but these pictures are fabulous as it is, i wonder if a modern camera would do better :-)