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.
By Kari Jim
Every year, the ESPN Wide World of Sports Center located in Orlando Florida, holds a country-wide elite soccer showcase. And this past Thanksgiving, I had the chance to go. I have been playing soccer since I was 5 years old, and have been dreaming of going to this tournament ever since I first heard of it.
This year my soccer team, PA Rush, qualified for the Disney Showcase Tournament. We have been trying to get in for the past two years and finally, our wish came true. When my team first found out we were going to this showcase, we were all so excited. We knew we were going to have fun on this trip, but we weren’t expecting to have as much fun as we did.
We scheduled our flight to be on the last day before Thanksgiving break officially started. We arrived in Orlando around 8 o’clock that Tuesday. Only a couple of my teammates were already at the hotel so we decided to meet up with them. I remember not being able to sleep at all that first night, because I was too excited for the next couple of days.
Wednesday was our only full day with nothing planned. Since we didn’t have any games scheduled for Wednesday, we decided to do something fun. Some of the girls went to Animal Kingdom while some went to Universal Studios. I was one of the few that went to Universal (and we had more fun than the girls that went to Animal Kingdom). We spent the whole day—from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.—walking around, going on practically every ride we could. We didn’t even realize how late it was until we saw people clearing the roads, getting ready for what looked to be a parade. And it was in fact a parade—a Christmas parade. The parade lasted for a good 30 minutes and then we decided to finally go back to the hotel and get some rest. The next day would be our first game and we honestly had no idea what to expect.
Walking into the ESPN Wide World of Sports Center the next day, no one imagined it would look the way it did. We walked past the widely recognized big red globe, and it looked like we were walking into a 5-star resort. There were palm trees lining every sidewalk and there was an overwhelming sense of elite competition. With too many soccer fields to count, it took us almost 15 minutes to find our playing field.
After warming up and walking over to the players side of the field, my teammates and I looked over to the sidelines to find many college coaches already seated and ready to watch us play. I was already nervous to begin with, and knowing that there were college coaches watching, made me even more nervous. But the game went pretty well: we ended up winning 2-1. By the time the game was over it was nearing 5:00, and everyone was hungry for some Thanksgiving dinner back at our hotel. Our whole team sat at one long table, enjoying our food, grateful for the opportunity to be in Orlando, and talking about how excited we were for our next game.
The next day we had to get up early for our game. Although we were feeling very confident, we lost the game 3-1. None of us were too mad though, because we knew we played well. And since our game was early in the morning, everyone was too excited to go to a park afterwards. Most of my team decided to go to Magic Kingdom. Once arriving at the park, we realized that any other day would have been better to be in Disney’s Magic Kingdom. The sidewalks were so crowded; it took us 20 minutes to just get past the entrance. We didn’t end up doing a lot that day, all the lines were too long for our tired legs.
The following day, walking out of the ESPN complex and towards the fields, there was incredibly dense fog everywhere. You couldn’t even see past the first field. And of course, our field was in the very very back. Once again we walked for about 20 minutes before we reached our playing field. We were competing against a team from Florida, and by the looks of these girls and the dense fog, we figured this game was going to be interesting. It was about 65 degrees outside, pretty warm if you’re from PA—but the team we were playing thought otherwise. About half of their players were wearing Under Armour long sleeves and gloves. One of the players even wore leggings under her shorts. We watched in amusement as they complained about how cold it was.
The game was very tough but we came out winning 2-0. It was not an easy win by any standards. The girls were very aggressive. I ended up having to leave the game for a short time due to a bloody nose after a strong elbow to the face. After many many fouls and even a few opposing parents cursing at the referee in Spanish, we walked out of the complex with our heads held high. We were so proud of ourselves in this highly competitive tournament.
Many of my teammates left that day, and the few who stayed went to yet another park. Some of us even managed to visit two parks. After spending a few hours in Hollywood Studios—riding Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster—we decided to head over to Epcot for our last park. After riding a few space rides and walking around the World Showcase, it was time to head back to the hotel totally exhausted for our last night.
The plane ride home was pretty boring. No one was looking forward to going back to school the next day. Looking back at everything that happened on this trip, I hope I get the opportunity to could go back and compete in this incredible venue again. For any athlete that gets the chance to go to the ESPN Wide World of Sports center, do it. It was one of the best experiences of my life.
Submitted by our members as well as teens across the world.