In America?

October 8, 2009 at 12:52 pm | Posted in I can't think of a clever category | 1 Comment
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I haven’t posted here in a while, and for that I apologize, but I hope to make up for it with this absolutely fascinating tidbit.

There is, right now, in the state of Pennsylvania, a town that has been essentially erased from existence due to the fact that it has been on fire for the past 50 years. Go ahead and read that again. This is not a bad movie, or a joke, or a gag.

You see, there was a town, once, Centralia, that numbered roughly 2,000 Pennsylvanians. In 1962, the local fire department lit the town dump on fire (a standard practice apparently) and accidentally ignited the coal mine running beneath the entire town.

It started burning. And it is still burning because it’s, you know, coal. And you cannot, I gather, live and work atop a continuously burning coal mine fire without experiencing some rather serious side effects. The ground there actually smokes and belches flame, and the temperature several feet below the surface is over 170 degrees.

We have managed to create, in the middle of Pennsylvania, an actual, physical, manifestation of Hell.

So, in 1984, Congress allocated $84 million to relocate all of the residents of the town. In 1992, the state claimed the entire town via eminent domain, and in 2002, the Federal Government cancelled the town’s zip code. There is essentially a several square mile dead-zone, a non-existent place, that is literally on fire, in the middle of our country.

It is estimated that the mines beneath the town will continue burning for another 250 years.

I am absolutely speechless upon learning this. Did you know about this? Did you know that this was even possible? Why has nobody ever told me about this? Why does the national news not report on this story every single night?

And who is joining me for a road trip?

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  1. Mike–

    You need to add “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson to your “to read” list. The book is terrific and he has a whole section on this town in it. Hope all is well. Ken


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