I-Mockery.com's Road Trip to Centralia, PA
by: Protoclown

In celebration of this Halloween season, some friends and I decided to drive up to Pennsylvania for a weekend, to hit up a couple of interesting places we'd heard about but never seen. The first one being Centralia, a small town that's had a coal mine fire burning underneath it for over forty years, and is said to be one of the main inspirations for the "Silent Hill" series of games; the second was Egg Hill Church, which has a pretty interesting spooky story surrounding it, but we'll get into that later.

Since it's a five hour drive from Richmond and we wanted to have the full day to explore, we decided to head up to Pennsylvania after work on a Friday night and crash in a motel. So we stayed at the fine, fine Econolodge in Frackville. Seeing this display in their "lobby" (which was actually about the size of a small closet) reminded me why I refuse to ever eat Otis Spunkmeyer cookies (as if the name alone isn't suggestive enough).

From there we walked over to the Dutch Kitchen next door and had breakfast before starting our grand adventure. You can see the place behind me in the picture here, so I know you'll believe me when I tell you that it smelled exactly the way my and quite possibly your grandmother's house used to smell. There were all kinds of dolls, trinkets, treasures, and other pointless nick nacks all over the walls of the place, so it was really representative of "small town America". I look sad and disturbed in this picture because it was in the morning. I do not like mornings. They frighten and confuse me.

Before hitting up Centralia proper, we had arranged to take a tour of a coal mine in the next town over, which I believe was called Ashland. Fortunately the mine that we went into was not on fire, which is important to note, or I would be dead while writing this.

We had a little time to kill before the next tour of the mine was to begin, so we decided to check out the gift shop, and I amused myself by finding silly things among the countless rocks they had for sale. I found a children's book called "Geo the Geode", about a friendly little geode, who, gosh darn it, is just really happy to be here.

They also had a bin full of stuffed animals that came packaged with tiny towels for some reason. Unfortunately, the way they did the packaging made each animal look like it was either really well endowed, or that it was fucking the absolute hell out of the towel it was attached to. Some of the choices of animals were a bit strange. Horses and donkeys I can understand, being that it's a coal mine, but I don't really understand the inclusion of sharks and whales, unless there's something about coal mines I just don't know.

Just when it was about time to venture down into the mine, we saw this sign, which was very reassuring. Still, it's important to remember not to ride your four-wheeler or go swimming down in the freezing, absolute darkness of the mine. I know how tempting it can be, but take my advice: just don't.

Then we all piled into the little train and went down into the mine itself. Almost all of the pictures of the train ride were unusable because they were too blurred, but the way I'm sitting in this one I think gives an impression of just how chilly it is down there. They said to be sure to wear a jacket while going into the mine, but I didn't really believe it would be that bad. But it actually was pretty damned chilly.

The mine tour was pretty cool, because I'd never really been in an environment like that before. At one point the tour guide was talking to us and he switched out the lights so we could all appreciate the absolute darkness for a few moments. Of course, when the lights returned, three people were gone, never to be found again, but that's just part of the experience. They also had creepy mannequins set up throughout the tunnels, just so you could see them out of the corner of your eye and believe that you were being stalked by some disgruntled mine worker-turned-killer.

Of course, none of the mannequins were as creepy as little "Timmy" here, whose dirt covered face had this permanently mournful look etched into it, as if to say "Please mister, can you spare a few breadcrumbs? I have been working in this mine since I was four. There is no joy left for me." I believe I even heard one frustrated parent threatening to leave their child here and take "Timmy" back to the surface world with them instead. Or maybe that was just me imagining what I would do.

Here's a fake donkey mannequin (just like in the clothing stores) attached to a cart filled with coal. This is the hallway where the guy turned out the lights completely and a scuttling, dragging sound was heard in the darkness.

There were of course all kinds of shafts going up and down through the mine, many of them for hundreds of feet, and you could look up or down them as far as the light would allow. This shaft was one that went down, blocked by a protective grate so nobody could fall down into it, of course. They had a cardboard cutout of what looked like a dancing, happy sailor dude standing horizontally on the side of the wall. I can assure you that if you fell down there you would neither be happy nor dancing. But you might be a sailor, for all I know.

After the mine tour was over we hopped aboard a train called the Henry Clay and took a little tour around the hills nearby, while the guide told us about Centralia and the history of the coal mine.

While on board the train we passed by a big barn with a bunch of antlers mounted to one of the walls. Many of those antlers look too tiny to belong to deer to me, so I'm guessing they probably come from the fearsome Northeastern Devil Squirrel. Also, I wish we'd gotten a good picture of it, but you can see part of it in the window there--they had this ghoulish masked scarecrow thing in the window, which was obviously there for Halloween.

Here's a picture of an oldschool bootlegging mine operation/child day care center from back in the days of the Great Depression. These guys would decide to make a little extra money on the side when the companies that owned the mines would cut back due to the faltering economy. You could also toss your child down into the hole for the day and hoist them back up on the bucket in the evening.

The train conductor was actually pretty cool. He hung around for a while after the tour and talked to people, and gave us directions so we could find our way into the abandoned parts of Centralia. Note carefully that he's standing right next to a deadly cloud of "Silent Hill fog" and shows no concern at all. Fucking badass.

We were now ready to head out to Centralia proper. We didn't quite know what to expect, but I found this picture online, which suggested to me that the earth would open beneath us and smoke would pour out as we were sucked into the very bowels of Hell itself. We however encountered nothing of the kind, unfortunately.

There's still more to see!


Reader Comments

Last of the Time Lords
Oct 27th, 2008, 04:12 AM
Cool stuff. That church is plenty creepy even if all the legends about it are complete garbage. I have a cousin whose into paranormal crap, and she completely wigs out whenever she gets a pic of an "orb", so getting those shots would have had her practically in cardiac arrest.
Oct 27th, 2008, 07:26 AM
Nice article. That hearing your name being called part freaked me out because on saturday night (after the Krazyhouse club) we all went back to an abandoned hospice (our mate is the night manager of the building and we needed a place to stay since it was raining cold and the trains don't start til like 8am!) and shit was it creepy! Some rooms still had beds in others were empty, we did some exploring/genereal running around and i swear i heard Kysha call "Lisa..." but she was like "wtf? no i didn't". I think all ghosts have seen horror movies because they're pretty damn cliche. So we all camped in one room (right opposite a scary one you just felt as soon as you walked in) and predictably someone refused to sleep with the lights off so we left the hallway light on with our door open and who was on a mattress opposite the door? You guessed it. I swear stuff was walking past the door and hearing chairs creak in other rooms... moral is if you're ever in Chillinwall (sp??) in Liverpool don't stay at that hospice! was right next door to a church and creamatorium too.
oh wtf we're all going back and having a seance whenever we're all out again, if i take pics i'll post them in a forum
Pickleman's Uncle
Oct 27th, 2008, 07:48 AM
That spider is equal to OR LARGER THAN that quarter
Amicable Herculean
Oct 27th, 2008, 10:05 AM
Dude! Spunkemeyer cookies ar te best! But yeah, Centrailia is a pretty boring place.
Commarade General
Oct 27th, 2008, 10:46 AM
Hey, wanna visit a really spooky town and have some money handy?

Then here in Mexico we have Real de Catorce. When Mexico was still a Spanish possession (1521-1821) silver mining was one of the most lucrative enterprises Spaniards had. So, in what is now the state of San Luis Potosí (named after the mining town of Potosí in Bolivia) many mines were created and towns were built near those mines. Real de Catorce was one of those towns. It was created in the 18th century and was functional until 1910, when the Mexican Revolution that started that year closed it down for good.

Now the town is a semi-vacant town, with many colonial buildings clashing with Art-Nuveau and a few modern ones, while it is still surrounded by mines -whose output is no where near Real de Catorce's one during it's hayday- but there is something eerie about the town. I don't know how or why, but when you're in it, you feel as if your energy is being drained. You go to wake up feeling more tired than the day before. Many of the residents are natives, so they have their own customs and traditions, so that just adds up to the weirdness of the town.

Besides, as most colonial towns in Mexico, it has a big cemetery with a colonial barroque chappel. Those thing are scary enough whith their paintings and statues of saints with cold, dead looking eyes. And in this cases, always, ALWAYS, they have a real sized figure of Christ after being lowered from the cross. This "statue" is made of a material native to the region -in another state they had one made of corn paste- and has a spooky story --the corn one keeps growing and growing since it was created, it's almost 400 years old and it still grows.

Man, I just scared myself by recounting all this items. But if you want to experience them from first hand, Come to Mexico! The place of weird ghost towns and zombie Jesus statues!

A person.
Oct 27th, 2008, 12:19 PM
Too bad about getting pulled over. Also, where did you get that MR T voice for your GPS? That would be awesome to have.
Can't touch this
Oct 27th, 2008, 02:18 PM
I would get GPS JUST for a Mr. T voice! Also, I've been to Pennsylvania...The whole state sucks. Also, Never go to Ohio. West Virginia is nearby and absolutely FILLED with creepy-ass tiny little almost ghost towns and shit like that. Know why 'Silent Hill' took place in WV? The entire fucking state is creepy.
Sympathizes with the foo'
Oct 27th, 2008, 02:24 PM
Told as is, that legend would have to be bullshit. If a preacher were to suddenly develop a brain aneurysm, he wouldn't go crazy and murder his congregation, and he certainly wouldn't recover and commit suicide; he'd probably just, you know, die. I'd have made up something about demonic possession instead. Scarier and all.
Oct 27th, 2008, 02:36 PM
I just wanted to add that I heard the voice too. I didn't understand what it said, but after Jason said "they're calling us" or whatever, I thought about it and realized it sounded like "Jason!". I thought it was Lauren's voice though instead of Sam's. We were on the opposite side of the church from the cars and house, near the woods, so the voice that we had assumed came from the cars also came from the direction of the church. After Jason ran back around to the cars I heard a wood-creaking sound from what sounded like the upstairs of the church.

...Pause at the Beginning
Oct 27th, 2008, 02:52 PM
You should have gone to southwestern PA and gone to Fright Farm. It's not creepy, it's just a big haunted house and hayride attraction. Also, Laurel Caverns. No spooky shit but Laurel Caverns is great.

And yeah, lots of rural places can be scary at night. Western PA, western VA, West Virginia, and other places in the region are good for that. Tiny little towns that consist of nothing more than a gas station and a creepy bridge.
Forum Virgin
Oct 27th, 2008, 03:25 PM
I must defend Mr. T from the vile accusations leveled upon him, here. When I was entering the destination, we didn't have a precise address to give. So instead of putting in a street address, I put in a zip code and an interstate that Lauren had reckoned was the right one. So yes, Mr. T did in fact lead us away from Egg Hill, but that was only because the destination he'd been given to find was not exactly Egg Hill.
is hopped up on goofballs
Oct 27th, 2008, 03:34 PM
Yeah, we're pretty bad with posting what the speed limit actually is in PA...sorry about that. You missed the best part of central PA besides State College, though, and you were really close to it too: Goddamn Knoebels Amusement Park. It's the only amusement park left anymore that's not just after every single penny of your dough, plus the food kicks ass. Check it out the next time you're up this way.
Forum Virgin
Oct 27th, 2008, 06:17 PM
While we are on the subject of creepy places a buddy of mine works nights at a hotel here in Michigan. It used to be a big mob hangout. Al Capone had stayed there a couple of times and everything. A mab boss actually got shot in the hotel bar. There is a newspaper framed on the wall talking about it and everything. Since my friend works at night there isnt any other employees and sometimes you can hear a vacum running in an empty room. Or you can hear footsteps in empty hallways. Even the ice on the fountain pop machine will come out by itself.
Oct 27th, 2008, 06:26 PM
Commanderraf: Remember that a lot of spooky people also go to Real de Catorce for nothing more than some peyote.

Protoclown:Those red lights are simply scary. I look at them and I truly believe it is some demonic entity lurking around.
Space Cowboy
Oct 27th, 2008, 07:12 PM
I once went with a group of friends to check out a graveyard that was supposedly haunted by the spirit of an Indian chief ( I live in Minnesota, so it seemed fairly feasible)

Upon reaching the graveyard, we were disappointed to not only not see any ghosts, but that the graveyard was maybe 50 square feet big and full of French-Canadian immigrants, which would make them probably the least frightening type of zombie I could imagine.

As we're walking back to the cars, I start to hear this faint children's music, like from a music box or something. It was faint, but loud enough to know that it couldn't be coming from the "nearby" buildings (The closest being more than 100 yards away) and of course, I just think I'm imagining it and scaring myself, so I turn to my friend to tell him and laugh it off. His eyes are the size of fucking dinner plates as he's saying "Please fucking tell me you can hear that too" before I have a chance to speak.

Actually scared now, I nod to him and we both run back to our car ahead of the rest of the group, claiming to them we were merely just cold and not wusses.
Forum Virgin
Oct 27th, 2008, 07:55 PM
if anybody wants the TRUE Centralia experience, may I recommend the weather to be cold and rainy...and it must be at night. The last time me and some of my friends went it was a spittin image of the smokey dreariness of Silent Hill. The only thing that would have made it better is the distant howling of a air raid siren in the distance.
PS the ground at Centralia in certain spots is extremely weak, so one wrong misstep could send you hurtling to the bowels of coal fire hell...
Forum Virgin
Oct 27th, 2008, 07:57 PM
o yeah and rizzo - goddamn right about knoebels!!! ride the phoenix forever!!!
Suicidal Chipmunk
Oct 27th, 2008, 09:39 PM
I've only been to one Halloween based "event". It's the Homer Mill, in Michigan, and it's pretty amazing. It's actually Alice Coopers favorite haunted house attraction in the country. I've gone the past two years with a couple of my bodies, and it was really fun both times. The first time i went was last year, and when me and my buddies got there, we were really really early (it was like 5 pm, and still light out) and we thought it wasn't going to be very scary at all. But, since we got there so early, we were the only people there, which seemed to make everything 10 times worse than normal. The scares were actually so frequent one of my friends started getting angry at the workers and yelling at them whenever he got startled, which was funny in retrospect, but we were to busy shitting ourselves to laugh at the time. The weird thing about it though, was that the first few rooms weren't even remotely frightening. They were actually just plain silly. But everything got WAY worse the further in we got. And we discovered that apparently, my friend Steven is afraid of clowns , and I'm afraid of heights. It was really fun and i was psyched to get the chance to go again earlier this year. When we got there this year though, it was later in the night (about 8 or 9) and there were a lot of people in line. When we finally got in, it wasn't even all that scary. Hearing the people in front and behind you screaming just ruined the experience and spoiled all the scares. Plus, since it was so much later, the workers seemed tired, and not really into what they were doing.It was still fun, but in a more "laughing at all the stupid people behind you screaming" kind of fun. So yeah, if anyone ever gets the chance to go, try and go early, before anybody else shows up. Going through that haunted house with only a few friends makes everythinga lot better, and the fact that it's light outside is barely even noticeable once you get inside the house. It's really dark in most of the rooms in the house.

(P.S.) If anybody does check it out, make sure to stick with your group in the room with all the curtains and the strobe lights. I circled around that room for 10 minutes trying to find the way out of that room, the strobe lights were blinding me, and no matter how many times i heard that woman in the middle of the room scream, it still scared the crap out of me. (Sadly, the woman wasn't screaming when i went through this year)
(P.P.S.) The restaraunt in the Homer Mill is also pretty good. :^D
Forum Virgin
Oct 27th, 2008, 09:46 PM
If you guys are ever near the Louisville KY area, you really should check out a place called the Waverly Hills Sanatorium. From our friends @ Wikipedia:
A sanatorium (also sanitorium, sanitarium) is a medical facility for long-term illness, typically tuberculosis.
A synopsis of the place:
The official (RE: boring) website:
Forum Virgin
Oct 27th, 2008, 10:24 PM
Centralia was an inspiration for the movie, not the game. The game had all that fog because of the graphical limitations of the PlayStation.
The Goddamned Batman
Oct 27th, 2008, 11:26 PM
Commanderraf: Thanks for the tip, but that's probably a little far out of my range at this point. Who knows, though--maybe Roger could make it down there sometime!

MS-DOS4: I don't know. The GPS belongs to my friend Dave (Sarcastro, who posted below). He didn't really lead us astray so much as the area just isn't well mapped though.

Mister Tea: I agree, and I'm sure there's probably a slightly more credible version of the story that involves demonic possession or something instead of the aneurysm. You know how these stories go though, they get told over and over and details change over the years. I just recounted how I remember it being told to me.

Military Messiah: Dude! You didn't think that was worth mentioning while we were there? The noise you heard up in the church? That's kind of a creepy little detail there.

Ozzie: Oh man, that must have been freaky as hell. I envy you for that. I've been out ghost hunting to graveyards and Civil War battlefields many times, but never have I experienced anything like that!

fugmunky: I don't doubt that you're right about that. Unfortunately we only had so much time and we wanted to check out Egg Hill too...

SlimJim: Holy SHIT that place sounds AWESOME! I'm definitely putting that on my list of places to see. And the great thing is that it's easily reachable for me in a day. The only thing that concerns me is that website mentions that it's "being rennovated"...I'd be afraid I'd get there and it would be like arriving after the party's over.

Brunbb: That actually makes some kind of sense.

And to those of you who suggested "haunted hayride" kind of attractions, those can be fun, and I appreciate the suggestions, but I'm looking for things that are a little more genuine, you know?
lurking on the walls
Oct 27th, 2008, 11:40 PM
http://www.offroaders.com/album/cent...re-history.htm a slight history on Centralia is in the link I posted here. It's sad that you couldn't get any pics you'd dee worthy for the site.

On another note, the orbs in the creepy tree, they're basically supposed to be ghosts... Did you lose power to your digital cameras at any point around that church?

Also, if you ever take a trip up to Canada, check out Newfoundland, it's where I'm from, and there are plenty of ghost stories around this area, from suicide, to a man getting lost in a small wooded area for 10 days and coming out traumatized and mentally destroyed. He was perfectly sane when he went in to them. If you want to hear more Newfoundland stories, or for me to go deeper in to telling you the one mentioned, feel free to contact me some way.

Oct 28th, 2008, 12:16 AM
Before hitting up Centralia proper, we had arranged to take a tour of a coal mine in the next town over, which I believe was called Ashland. Fortunately the mine that we went into was not on fire, which is important to note, or I would be dead while writing this.
At least you're not dead and we don't have to use Zombie killing tactics on you...

And of course, what road trip would be complete without the experience of getting pulled over for speeding in some backwards ass town where they don't bother to have the speed limit posted until after you pass through the speed trap... 35 miles per hour on this road. Who would have guessed?
Plus out of state plates. I think they just wait for that...

As for creepy locations, up and around my hometown (Erie, or as it goes around this time of year, Eerie, PA) we've got Axe Murderer Hollow and a few other supposedly haunted spots. Never been to any of them myself, so I can't vouch for the coolness factor of them, but we do have a Horror Festival every year, with movies and horror actors and the like. Nothing A-list (I'd say, unless you're a horror fan) like the one Rog went to, but it's a good time. Might want to check it out next year (or, y'know, whenever *laughs*)
Oct 28th, 2008, 04:06 AM
I live in WV and in defense of it's "creepiness" factor it is only scary to people who live in the city or highly populated areas. If houses with big-assed yards in the middle of the woods=creepy then I guess we are then. I mean I live less than a mile from "slaughterhouse hollow" and it isn't the least bit crepy here. Unless you are afraid of the dark that is.

You want to be creeped out, try going to the old prison here. Apparently they have started to run a spook house in it during october. I haven't went yet, but the prison itself is scary enough without the doctoring, so I can only imagine.
Cast "Summon Boat"
Oct 28th, 2008, 05:13 AM
It's hard to trust a city called Centralia... it's the worst kind of portmantea! ...ONE THAT MAKES SENSE.
Cell Regenerated Deadite
Oct 28th, 2008, 10:56 AM
Looks like an ideal location for a remake of: "Motel Hell", "Phantasm", "Night of the Creeps", "Return of the Living Dead" or maybe "My Bloody Valentine"
Fake Shemp
Oct 28th, 2008, 04:44 PM
I grew up within a few miles of the Danvers State Mental Hospital in Danvers MA. Back in the late 80's we used to be able to drive around the grounds at night for a pretty good freak out. But that was when it was still open and functioning. Little by little it was closed down and all the residents redistributed around the area, which definitely added to its creepiness; the emptier it got, the darker it would get at night. Eventually it was closed down and as of right now I've no idea what still remains of it. But if just exploring the grounds at night was spooky (and keeping an eye out for cops and security once they chained the access roads off), actually going inside, at night, with flashlights would have been something I'd have paid good money to have been able to do. Check out the film Session 9 for more of what would have (or still would, if any of it is left) made creeping around inside Danvers State Mental Hospital the perfect thing to do around the Halloween season.
Forum Virgin
Nov 6th, 2008, 05:08 AM
Great article, that town has seemed facinating since I first heard about it! Shame they keep tearing it down.

Check out the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpikes.
Imperial Stormtrooper
Nov 12th, 2008, 12:58 AM
I'm thinking of visiting Centralia in full Stormtrooper regalia. I'll post pics when/if I do. Great article though.
Forum Virgin
Nov 23rd, 2008, 09:58 PM
Heres one for you on the east coast, a bit of a hike for you guys, but deffinatly worth it; Spider's Gate Cemetary. Accroding to legend entering each one the supposed gates to the cemetary (mind you you hear alot of "The 6th gate is between that rock and that dumpster" )but still has a really nice, creepy feel too it. Heres a link with more: http://www.strangene.com/cemeteries/spidergate.htm
Forum Virgin
Dec 7th, 2008, 02:32 PM
If you ever travel down to Mexico, go see the Mummy Museum in Guanajuato

Guanajuato is a wee bit far down to travel, but the museum is super creepy, as you can see from the first link. Basically all the mummies there were all residents of the town at some point from the colonial era.

Not for the squeamish, since there are mummy children Dx

Also, there is a seperate hallway of just random oddities, such as a guillotine, a "vampire skeleton", and a coffin with spikes.

The best part are the caramel mummies as souvenirs. Delicious!
Resident psychopath
Dec 20th, 2008, 12:02 PM
Well one time I was working at a haunted house and I was in one of these halls of mirrors by myself waiting for people to get to this room. So I was sitting there waiting, I walked by one of the mirrors, no reflection. I assure you these mirrors were perfectly normal and were supposed to reflect. I go to the next one, no reflection. Then I heared rushing waster like it was in the room with me. For those who are curious it was Knotts berry Farms halloween haunt. In this maze called Killer Clown Kollege which is located near Xcelerator and pretty close to perilous plunge. Someone died on perilous plunge a while back, I thoght it had something to do with that, not exactly sure though. After a while the water stops and people start pouring in. I was following some people through the mirror hall and I saw 1 reflection of a person who wasn't even there. It was like some obese lady (which is kind of like the person who fell of perilous plunge). All and all I am not sure...The fog and lighting and darkness all may have been playing tricks on me. Either way, that was a night that scared me.
Forum Virgin
Mar 24th, 2011, 05:47 PM
I know a place down in texas called the staley cemetary. So appearantly,there was an indian burial ground and they built the cemetary right on top of it.Every so often, there is a blue light that can be seen flying over the place at night. The only problem is that the police are patrolling it 24/7...
lurking on the walls
Oct 1st, 2012, 12:29 PM
Awesome picture show Proto

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