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Thursday, March 30, 2006

 

The Smoldering Ruins of Centralia

`There is a small town in Pennsylvania called Ashland where Route 61’s northbound traffic is temporarily branched onto a short detour. Exactly what the detour is circumventing is not immediately clear to travelers, however few passers-by pay it any mindů a detour is nothing unusual. But anyone who ignores the detour and ventures along the original route 61 highway will soon encounter an abrupt and unexplained road closure. Beyond it lies a town filled with overgrown streets, smoldering earth, and ominous warning signs. It is the remains of the borough of Centralia. [..]

In 1962, workers set a heap of trash ablaze in an abandoned mine pit which was used as the borough’s landfill. The burning of excess trash was a common practice, yet at that particular time and place there existed a dangerous condition: an exposed vein of anthracite coal. The highly flammable mineral was unexpectedly ignited by the trash fire, prompting a quick effort to put it out. The flames on the surface were successfully extinguished, but unbeknownst to the fire fighters, the coal continued to burn underground. [..]’




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