12 Responses

  1. Steve says:

    The State of Pennsylvania has a long history of mining. Centralia is just the tip of the smoking coal slag heap.

    What started as a discovery of some loose black rocks in what would become the Anthracite Coal Region would spawn a transportation network that would allow New York City to expand and become the major metropolitan region it is.

    The Delaware and Hudson Canal Company built a canal and inclined plane railway from Honesdale PA to tidewater on the Hudson at Kingston (Roundout) NY. They also imported and ran the first steam engine in the United States, the Stourbridge Lion.

    Once the broad gauge Erie Railroad was built, numerous others were quickly built into the region to haul the coal out. Most, also owning the mines that coal was coming out from. The area minted cash for the investors on the backs of the miners.

    Once the switch to fuel oil started, the decline began, and the large scale deep mining ended when Knox Coal Company pierced the bottom of the Susquehanna River pretty much flooding most of the active deep mines in the area.

    Today the area around Scranton and Wilkes Barre are all over many deep mines, and you can tour one in Scranton. It is WELL worth the trip to give you an idea of what being in a mine was like, the rules the miners worked under to become a “licensed” miner and whole system of mines in PA. Today mining in that area is a cottage industry, with sole miners digging coal out. However, the state still maintains a large Department of mines because they keep the maps to all the holes in the ground.

    Once the mining stopped, all of the Anthracite roads went into rapid decline, with the NYO&W failing first in 1957, the Lehigh and New England Railway in 61. The Erie and the Lackawanna merged the Reading, the Lehigh and Hudson River, the Central RR of NJ all being folded into Conrail in 1976. The D&H survived as a bridge road.

    You can visit Roebling’s aqueduct crossing of the Delaware in Lackawaxen, it is the oldest suspension bridge in the US with wire cables on the way to the coal mine tour, and of course steam town in Scranton. Scranton is also loaded with lots of churches built by the immigrants who came to mine there and there is a walking tour of those.

  2. Sheryl says:

    Wow! What a cool adventure and crazy story. I am guessing the “Mayor of Centralia” is a self appointed position?

    • Emily says:

      I’m thinking it actually is a position in which the townspeople vote, though of course there are very few of them remaining now. Pretty close to being self-appointed anyways.

  3. Tom says:

    Great post as usual!

  4. Al Cyone says:

    For one of your adventures you should come over to our side of the river and visit some of the sites mentioned by Steve in his comment, particularly the D&H Canal Museum in High Falls and the Snyder Estate in Rosendale. The latter was the home of cement magnate, Andrew Snyder and features the Widow Jane Mine. Also in Rosendale is the Wallkill Valley Railroad viaduct, at the northern end of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail.

    Not to be missed is the new Walkway Over the Hudson, New York’s newest State Park and the highest pedestrian bridge in the world. Metro North’s Hudson line will take you there (Poughkeepsie).

    • Emily says:

      Thanks for the suggestions! The walkway over the Hudson is a good idea, and isn’t too far away from me. I’m hoping in a few weekends I can get over to the Harlem Valley Rail Trail too. So many photo adventure opportunities :D

  5. BEN says:

    Very cool adventure(Great Pics and Story)!!! I came across the link below and a few google searches later found your story.

    Im from Northern California so i wont being thru centralia any time soon, but it is definitely a destination i’d like to see.


  6. Nicole Perigard says:

    Came across your blog randomly when researching Centralia, PA after hearing this RadioLab podcast titled “Cities.”


    The last story is about Centralia. Thought you might enjoy.


  7. Rina says:

    Oh wow! Nice blog post!! I’d love to visit Centralia! I first learned about it when I was reading about the movie Silent hill and they mentioned Centralia as an inspiration for the setting. Ever since then I’ve been almost obsessed with the town and think about it often and look up as many pictures as I can find of it before and after. It’s such an amazing and interesting place!! Gosh :)) It would be soooo cool to visit it.

  8. Catherine says:

    Just found your blog thanks to a friend’s Facebook post, so I am catching up. Love this one about your experience in Western PA , and like Steve wrote in April of 2010, I have family history in the Eastern part of PA, the Scranton-Wilkes Barre coal seam. My Dad and his family came from England when the mines there were closing, in the 1920s. They settled in Shickshinny, PA, and my grandfather and his brothers worked the coal mines there. Eventually, my grandfather moved the family to Syracuse, NY when he found work on the railroad. But his brothers and their families stayed in PA. Over the years, we heard nightmare stories about sink holes when the old mine shaft beams were rotting out and collapsing. One aunt’s house was declared unsafe as it was on the edge of a sink hole that eventually claimed it. PA never really acted in the best interests of its residents in these matters, although my guess is there were times when the financial situation within the state was shaky because of the closing of the mines meant reducing tax revenues…just a guess, though. I loved this post as it brought back memories of those tales and tales of the years my grandfathers and great-uncles spent in those holes in the ground! My grandfather had black lung and was blind in one eye from a coal fragment. I cannot imagine what that work was like.

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