Vacation Days Are the Best

I just took some long needed vacation time to drive the coast and visit my brother and neices. My Mom and sister left a few days before we did so I could take my time and drive the coastline.

There’s a string of rural highway in Virginia that has the raddest plantation houses and farms. I never gave a shit about scenery or anything like that before a few years ago. I can remember my Mom being really excited about pretty sunsets on camping trips, and I’d just be like “Who cares? I want to go ride my bike”. Guess I’m all grown up now.

Happy birthday America.

I went to Centralia, Pennsylvania on the trip. I have a weird interest in ghost towns and deserted cities, so I found out about this place and wanted to check it out for years. It’s an abandoned ghost town, maybe a half hour to and hour southwest of Scranton. It was a booming coal-miner city up until the 1960’s. An underground coal fire started and the city had to be evacuated. It went from over 2,000 residents, to 5 residents currently. The coal fire is still burning underground, and people guess that it’s going to burn for 100 years.

I’ve wanted to go there for about a year. It’s the city that inspired the movie ‘Nothing But Trouble’ and the plot line for the ‘Silent Hill’ movie. I’ve never known anybody whose been there, so while I was passing by I made the detour to find it.

It’s not on most maps anymore since the highways are all re-routed, but here it is. This is the adandoned PA Route 61. They’ve blocked it with piles of dirt on the entrance and exits.

The 4-lane highway was shut down because it’s super unsafe. There are gaping cracks with smoke seeping out all over. I walked some of it with Erica and we could actually feel hollow spots in the road that will collapse soon. We didn’t go too far down the road because the hollow spots were freaking her out, and there are warnings everywhere about random sink holes.

The photo above doesn’t belong to me, but I yanked it from a random Flickr to show some of the gnarlier cracks in the road.

Like any other abandoned area, it gets frequented by teenagers that are looking for party spots. The highway is covered with dark and creepy spray painted message.

It’s comepletely overgrown. But weirdly, there were dozens of rabbits in the area. They looked weird. It must be an area where they don’t have predators and the gases from the coal fires don’t harm them. Without humans to bother them, they’re literally scampering all over the place.

Some talented artists must live in this area.

Party spots galore. No cops can get up in there from the closed highway so kids just get wasted ontop of the hills overlooking the ghost town.

The only things that get any maintenance anymore are the graveyard and one lonely closed down church.

This is one of the million warning signs that tells you to back the hell up from the woods. Sink holes open up randomly and drop you down to a potential hot spot where your ass will be cooked alive.

These are two of the last three houses left. Residents on the right are patriotic as hell and decorated like no other for independence day. Funny, since nobody comes here to even look at their decorations. The streets used to be literally lined with houses built side by side like this. Unfortunately they’re all leveled. These are the last few die-hards existing in the area. The brick columns on the sides aren’t chimneys. Those are to keep the houses from falling over, since they were designed to be braced by surrounding buildings.

…and a whole lot of nothing. There were general stores and buildings on this street 30 years ago.

This giant blue boner was pointing out of the woods from a distance, so we went to check it out and it’s the remaining building from a Russian Orthodox church. It’s the creepiest thing ever, I shit you not. I was expecting dudes from ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ to run out and kidnap me at any second.

“Hi. I’m a Russion Church, and I’m super sketchy looking.”

Somebody still maintains the grounds at the church. There’s this memorial at the church that has flowers, as well as a memorial outside of town that’s made of two bath tubs cut in half with the virgin Mary statue just chilling in between them. Deliverance type stuff.

The view from the Church, overlooking some roads and the cemetary.

Dead adandoned roads. Completely silent most times. We ran into another family passing by and apparently the mother was from a neighboring town in the 60’s. She got pretty emotional explaining what it was like when the city evacuated. Apparently she hadn’t come back to the area since she was a teenager.

An old basketball hoop backboard nailed to a tree in an old yard. There was a deflated, moss covered basketball at the base of the tree.

The third of three remaining houses. An old guy lives here and he didn’t look stoked to see us snapping photos of his town. One of the die-hards. I heard this guy drives around in a truck and yells at teenagers that use his old town for drugs and sex. I have no idea why he has a mailbox because I’m told they stopped delivering mail here years ago.

More bunnies. They were all super curious and followed you around when you were on foot. When you started a car, they ran away immediately.

More party spots. Kids just bring down junk to sit on and light fires everywhere. The weeds behind the car seats are littered with Stoli and Jack Daniels bottles.

There are a few places where the road just ends. That’s it. Trees and bushes just took over and you’re cut off from the other side.

Each repaved spot is an area where the road was broken up from the fire below. Super empty and quiet.

You could see yards with stairs that used to lead up to the front door of a house. Stone walls that were probably the yards of the wealthier people in town.

The same Russian church as seen from down in the down. The blue boner is hideous but it gets your attention.

Roads are completely overtaken by the forest now.

The grass and weeds are just hiding everything that we see in civilization on a daily basis. Hydrants behind the weeds. Sewer grates under the bushes. I’ve said it before, it’s super creepy, but it’s really worth it to see this place.

This used to be one of the main streets. You can see the vague curb and the double width sidewalk. It used to be super busy back in the day – bars, stores, businesses were just expanding like crazy. I’m sure you’re bored with the town’s history now.

So I went off and found some of the dangerous areas.

Up on the hills it smells completely terrible. Almost like cat piss mixed with old vegetables or something awful like that. Apparently that’s the toxic gases venting out from the coal fires. Glad I found out after I breathed it in for a half hour.

There’s smoke rising out of the ground. The ground itself is hot to the touch.

This is the most well known spot where the fire seems to be focused.  Notice all of those tree roots? Trees in this area burn up from the roots to the tree. It’s crazy to see all of the red grass, black trees and smoldering rocks. It’s literally fields of this around the town. Since the light dying off, the pictures don’t really do it justice.

One of the toxic gas vents sticking out of the ground. It helps to vent the fire and keep all of the dangerous gas from pressurizing underneath the area. It’s even better at making the whole place smell like a 40 year old toxic gym sock.

Found you little bastards!  These are two kids just randomly hiding out in the woods smoking weed and taking pictures. She got real stoked on us having a decent camera. I think their names were Erin and … who cares. Look at that ridiculous teenage facial scruff. You know they’re up to no good.

Kind of towards the center of town, on the border of the dead zone, there’s this sign talking shit to the Penn. State Government. People are bummed because they’re being kicked off their land and they’re not even getting paid for it anymore. Sound familiar?

I hitchhiked the rest of the way back on my trip. Nobody showed up though. Apparently I didn’t show enough leg.

So that’s our American History lesson for the day. I promise the rest of the posts about vacation will not be super boring, with pictures of ghost towns, talking about shit that is on fire underground. If you’re ever in the area of PA and you have absolutely NOTHING to do, I suggest you visit Centralia and check out some weird stuff.

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