In the state of Pensylvania, in Columbus County, there is a near-ghost town through which an abandoned highway laced with graffiti runs, and smoke can sometimes be seen rising from the land. To some, it might look like the gateway to hell.
But the true reason there is an empty lot in a place where a vibrant town once stood has something to do with the area’s former enterprise ― coal mining.
Even though a settlement existed here prior to the 18th century, it was not platted as Centralia until the mid-19th century. The town was kick-started by engineer Alexander Rae, who arrived in 1842 and soon attracted others to join in the coal mining effort.
Pretty soon the town blossomed, its economy centered around the coal production business. The town soon numbered over a thousand inhabitants, including a large population of Irish migrants who formed the core of its workforce.
They brought with them came the notorious Irish secret society, the Molly Maguires, who allegedly committed a series of violent attacks. The town’s founder, Alexander Rae, as well as a local priest were murdered. After a crackdown on its leaders in 1877, the Molly Maguires were forced out and their influence dropped significantly.
By the beginning of the 20th century, Centralia and its coal lifeline were facing the Great Depression, but the town managed to survive this ordeal as well.
What caused the demise of Centralia was a miscalculated plan to clear up the town landfill site, as happened every year in the run-up to Memorial Day.
Read more HERE