Article by Larissa Chelius | Images by Kari Jim
The fire that now burns continuously throughout Centralia is not what many would believe.
Back in 1962, a coal seam fire initiated 30 feet underground and would ruin many homes. The former citizens have presented many different theories regarding why the fire rose in the first place. For instance, the main theory is that as townsfolk were burning waste in a landfill and when the flames reached the gases that are in the coal mines under, the town it ignited an ever-burning fire.
To this day, you can still go to Centralia or Route 61 for small time periods and see smoke rising from the ground and the sinkholes dispersed across town. The smoke that submerges from the fire consists of normal smoke and noxious fumes. These noxious fumes are the reason why most of Centralia's residents had to evacuate. There are only 7 people who strived to linger in Centralia.
While walking along the abandoned Highway called route 61, you can see where the sinkholes split the road or caved in. All along Route 61, you can see spray paint designs as far as the eye can see. These pieces of artwork can be dated back to 2007. Walking along the road, you can see a variety of different things from positive messages to personal information and many modern sayings. These include different vines or quotes from shows that became popular over the years. (There are also some profanity & inappropriate paintings, so hikers beware).
In addition, people are not afraid to make others scared. For example, a sewer drain reads “come play with me” near the name “Pennywise” with an arrow pointing down on the highway. In front of that was an arrow pointing to the sewer saying “you’ll float too”.
The town of Centralia and Route 61 are also recognized by the name Silent Hill. The reasoning for this is that a movie was made in 2006 called Silent Hill. The creators of Silent Hill got their inspiration from the town of Centralia. Some locals believe that the creators got their inspiration from the 'haunted' aspect of Centralia.
Many who visit Centralia at night claim that they hear voices from below the surface. For example, Scott Sailor openly told his story on the internet saying, "We found a slag covered hillside with steam coming out of it and were fascinated by some fossils we found, when we heard what sounded like a voice saying something inaudible from down below where we were. All three of us heard it. We figured it was someone else checking out the area too, so we sort of ignored it. Then we heard it again, a little more clearly. A few words and it sort of sounded like 'leave this place.'"
So, whether it is the idea of a 1,000-degree fire being 30 feet under you, the thought of a sinkhole falling, the noxious fumes or the voices from the coal mines that draw you to explore this area, be careful and safe if you choose to go on this spooky adventure.
Submitted by our members as well as teens across the world.