Monday, August 27, 2007

Six Great PA Ghost Town Pages

Of course, we're not the only site that has info on Pennsylvania's ghost towns. I like to think we have good information and good photos, but there are a few other sites that no PA ghost town enthusiast should miss.





The Centralia Project inspired not only our trip to Centralia, but this website as well. Everything about the site is fantastic: the images, the background information, and the personal insights from the authors' visit.

GhostTowns.com contains lots of info on some of PA's many ghost towns. Each town has its own page, detailing location, remains, and even the best time to visit. Many of the towns it discusses are obscure and little-known, making this an excellent resource for ghost town hunters.

Landrus, PA, "home of the first electrified coal mine in the world," is long gone, but Sarah Gilkinson is keeping the ghost town from being forgotten. She doesn't diminish the town by calling it "just a bunch of foundations," as some choose to describe such places; she attacks Landrus with infectious zeal and an eye for photography.

Mike Hoderman's set of Frick's Lock photos aren't the stale, "here's the front door" stuff that we see a lot. This set trumps any we've seen so far.

Hopewell Furnace is a great ghost town you can visit with the family. As a restored ironmaking town and historical site, it's not dangerous -- or illegal -- to visit, and it's a fascinating look at one more phase in Pennsylvania's industrialization. Galen Frysinger's pictures give a good idea of what to expect.

Celestia, the town that was deeded to God, was built to await the return of Jesus. The town ran into tax problems, and eventually collapsed. There isn't much left of Celestia, except its remarkable history, which Hobbes' Place details excellently.

These sites are some of our favorites, but still only scratch the surface of PA's ghost towns. If you know of other great PA ghost town pages, be sure to leave a comment with a link.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Pizza World

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Driving around Pottsville, we passed Pizza World. I don't know why we didn't notice it before, but I was quick to remember the Abandoned But Not Forgotten page on the former restaurant:
"Pizza World! Pizza World!" I said.
Brian was slower to catch on: "What, are you hungry?"

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I don't know why, but I really liked the roof on this place.

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Yeah, not a lot to say about it. It was cool that we just happened upon the place, but there wasn't much to see.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Concrete City

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EDIT: Concrete City has apparently changed hands within the local government, and it seems to be patrolled more heavily these days. We've heard a few reports of urbexers being fined there, so proceed at your own risk.

When most people think of PA's ghost towns, they think Centralia, Cashtown or maybe Frick's Lock. For some reason, few people talk about Concrete City.

The name is only half true: every part of every building is made of concrete, but there are only about 16 of them.

Concrete City was built in 1911 by Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Coal to house some of its workers. Two main problems left the town abandoned in 1924: the company did not want to install a sewer system, and the concrete held in cold and dampness. They tried demolishing one of the buildings, but dynamite had little effect on the poured concrete.

The central courtyard used to have a playground, tennis courts, even a baseball field. Now it has paintball accoutrements.

Granted, it's not the ideal ghost town: the locals frequently use it for paintball games, and kids take beers up there once in a while and get drunk (and you'll see plenty of paint balls and beer cans throughout the city). But if you time your trip right -- a Sunday, weekday, or some time in winter is best -- you can have hours of fun at Concrete City.

Once Brian and I finally found our way through Nanticoke, we headed off on the gravel path to Concrete City. There were a few dead ends along the way, but it was so serene and pretty that we didn't mind.

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Naturally, this was everyone's favorite when this post hit Digg's front page, haha.

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There's more info on Concrete City, including a few pics of the town before it was abandoned. Check out Web Urbanist for an excellent article on ghost towns around the world.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Centralia

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All that empty space used to be a town.

Centralia, PA's sad story has driven authors, filmmakers, vandals and tourists to its vacant lots and streets. The 40-year-old mine fire started when an emptied coal mine became the town's landfill. Burning the trash ignited a vein of unmined anthracite, and after failed attempts at putting out the fire, Congress made $40 million available for relocating Centralia's residents. Most chose to leave.

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There is still smoke rising from the landfill next to St. Ignatius Cemetery, and the fissures in the highway put up small clouds of it even in a hot Pennsylvania July.

The fire completely destroyed lesser-known Byrnesville, PA, a small neighboring village. The PA-61 detour leads through former Byrnesville; only the wash house remains.

Centralia's notoriety depends on a number of things: For one, there's the strange novelty of a mine fire that's been burning for nearly fifty years. It's not the classic Wild West ghost town, with tumbleweeds and saloons, but one created by a man-made disaster in the heart of PA's coal region, its remaining residents too determined or enfeebled to leave. The emotional side of the situation is wrenching, as highlighted by The Town That Was, a 2007 documentary featuring Jonathan Lokitis, Centralia's youngest resident.

Above all, Centralia is a fascinating place to visit. There are echoes of a pleasantly busy little town in the gridwork of streets.


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Brian and I, along with my wife, my sister and one of her friends opted to walk the abandoned section of Route 61. The cracks and buckled sections were sending up smoke, even in the middle of July.

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The cemeteries are more populous than the town itself; only nine Centralians remain.

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Where the fire came through at one point. It's hard not to personify those plants, managing to survive in such a wasteland.

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Brick buttresses to support the row home, now missing its neighbor.

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One of the famous park benches, which John Lokitis has kept well-painted.

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A few random shots.

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The Centennial Vault, another symbol of the town's former hope and optimism.

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Centralia's municipal building, and the door leading to the police department.

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The whole post-apocalyptic feeling really kicked in when we got off the main road and wandered around the town's back streets. Stop signs still stood on every corner.

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Back down old 61, and we were done for the day.

Ultimately, I could see why those who remain would want to hold on to Centralia. It's a dead town, to be sure, but it's also open and peaceful, and full of life in summer. Brian and I will be heading back in a few weeks.

ForgottenPA's Fan Box

About ForgottenPA

Created by Al Ebaster in 2007 after a trip to Centralia, ForgottenPA has become one of Pennsylvania's most popular urban-exploration websites. Brian is our photographer, and we're happy to have Ethan Smith, aka Bluecapriethan in the comment sections, on board as an author and photographer as well.

We're always accepting photo submissions! Email your photos to spampoet0023@gmail.com, with a few words about where and when they were taken.

Want to join us? If you have a Blogger/Gmail account and a passion for Pennsylvania abandonments, send us some urban-exploration photos and a few words about yourself to spampoet0023@gmail.com. Our authors retain all rights to the material they post, and are free to publish anything relevant to PA urban exploration at their own pace.

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