Abandoned PA 54/61; Centralia
The Borough of Centralia, Pennsylvania is a modern
day ghost town. From a peak of over 1100 residents nearly 30 years
ago, Centralia has been whittled down to slightly over a dozen residents
within the borough limits. The cause: An
out-of-control 40 year-old underground coal mine fire. The issue
came to a head in 1983 when a segment of the 4-laned PA 54/61 buckled and
caved in due to mine subsidence. After years of attempts to shore
up the highway, a detour, PA 61 was finally moved to a 2 lane bypass away
from the town. PA 54 was realigned onto secondary roads to the south
Most of the residences, businesses, and community
buildings were bought by the Commonwealth and have since been raised.
There are a few buildings left, and a few townspeople who are still fighting
PA 54/61 was a quiet 4-lane divided roadway until
the mine fire forced its closure. In the photo above, you can still
make out a 55 mile per hour speed limit sign. Fast forward five years,
graffiti and overgrowth have begun to takeover the highway. The highway's
closure may have kept it in a serene setting, as this
photo from Alex and Cary show; however, the feeling from walking down
this damaged road and into the modern day ghost town is certainly the opposite.
(Alex Nitzman/Cary Todd; 1996)
Many segments of the roadway have been cracked, broken,
and in some parts sizable fissures bellowing smoke from the fire have appeared.
One could only imagine the possible additional accidents that could have
occurred if the roadway had remained open any longer.
Microsoft Terraserver provides an excellent aerial
view of the abandoned PA 54/61 alignment an the two lane highway that now
carries PA 61. Tim Reichard has noted that this is known as PA 2002.
here to view 'old' and 'new' PA 61. PA 54 is along its new alignment
a few miles to the south.
At the southern end of the realigned PA 61, the old
road is blocked by a highway equivalent of a dam.
The two highways had been routed through the heart
of Centralia. To give an idea of how much Centralia has become a
ghost town, compare the above image near downtown Centralia from Alex and
Cary in 1996 showing PA 42 @ PA 54/61 and the then detour to Tim
Reichard's in August 2001 below.
Many of buildings have been torn down; plus the PA
54 designation is gone.
Site Navigation, Contributors, Sources & Links:
Return to Tracing the Past....
Multiplex @ Central PA Roads ---Tim Reichard
Alex Nitzman/Cary Todd
PA 42 Ends
PA 54 Ends
PA 61 Ends
America: Centralia Mine Fire
Page Created: January 3, 2002
Last Updated: September 17, 2002
(C) 2002 Adam Prince