Bernard Curran, 85, sits in a folding chair on West Park Street in Centralia and stares at an empty lot where the home he was born and lived his entire life once stood. Curran said, "I lived here my whole life. This will always be my home." Centralia is a borough and ghost town in Columbia County. Its population has gradually lessened from over 1,000 residents in 1981 to 12 in 2005, and 9 in 2007, as a result of an underground mine fire burning beneath the borough since 1962. Centralia is now the least-populous municipality in Pennsylvania. All properties in the borough were claimed under eminent domain by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1992 (and all buildings therein were condemned). Centralia's ZIP code was also revoked by the Post Office in 2002. Despite this, a few residents still continue to reside there in spite of a failed lawsuit to reverse the eminent domain claim. Curran moved out in past years due to health reasons and his property was razed in December of last year. He routinely comes to Centralia with his son to reminisce about the great life he once had here. Only a few homes still remain in Centralia. A building containing the Centralia fire company, police station, and borough building will remain as long as the borough still exists. "Centralia was once a booming town with so much history", Curran added. Behind Curran is where the Centralia American Legion Post 608 once stood. Pictured at the entrance to where the smoke used to vent out is a sign someone staked into the ground showing support for the few remaining townspeople.
What remains of Centralia
Tuesday, May 18, 2010