Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring Break, Part 1: Centralia

HOLY SH*T! I just scared myself half to death. Okay, over the course of the last 48 hours I haven't gotten enough sleep. Work 12a-4a, then 8a-5p with other craziness bookending those. So I'm pretty heavily falling asleep at the desk - and out of my peripheral vision just now the stand-alone hand sanitizer dispenser looked like a ancient Greek statue that was about to kill me! Like I legitimately almost went to red alert, defensive mode. I *Really* need to sleep.

So. Moving on. Me and Sarah decided to take Spring Break in New York City, and on the way there stop in Centralia, Pennsylvania! I've wanted to go here for like, 5 years! This is the place that INSPIRED Silent Hill!!! (To those not in the know, Silent Hill is my favorite video game series ever. Yes, more than Pokemon.) A little more background, this actually makes more sense if you've seen the Silent Hill movie than if you've just seen the video game - but in the movie and game, Silent Hill is this abandoned town where all the residents mysteriously disappeared and a person gets lost, and another person (the player) goes to Silent Hill to find them. Only Silent Hill (Long Story Short) kinda jumps between dimensions/real life and a hellish demon-filled world. Anyway.

In the movie, Silent Hill is explained as being abandoned because of a "coal fire ongoing for fourty years under the town, causing poisonous gas and sudden sinkholes." This also explains the eerie fog that fills the city (sort'v...) - well that first part is actually True in Centralia! In the 1960's, a vein of coal underground got caught on fire in some way that couldn't be put out and continued burning under the city to this day!!! Congress ordered the city evacuated in the late 1970's, but there were still a few straggling hold outs that don't want to lose their home.

Anyway. WE WENT THERE! But to take you back a little further, Wednesday was St. Patrick's Day. So me and Sarah went to bed at like 8PM. Then I woke up unable to go back to bed at 3am. Then we left for our trip c. 7AM. After a few hours of driving through boring PA, we finally arrived in Centralia around 1PM I think. It took us a little to find it, because after being abandoned successfully 40 years ago - most of the structures are gone with no trace. So sadly, there was not much in the way of abandoned buildings to enjoy :( Yes. Centralia was a bit of a let down. I recommend Urbanites not get there hopes too high up if they plan to explore Centralia, it's abandoned building hey-day has long past. The day would've been better spent exploring several factories that appeared abandoned along the way, or even in NYC. But I want to cover the trip anyway! So...Our adventure started trying to find something interesting to even look at in the city. Unfortunately, the above picture is an average view of anything from inside Centralia. There's only 4 or 5 buildings left - 4 private residences that were still being lived in and I didn't want to disturb them, based on Urban Exploration sites such as this one - they get plenty of annoying tourists.

Then we found three sort've creepy, but overall very average cemeteries. The only thing creepy about them would be that they had unusual crosses on them, very Silent Hill! Also, they had very old graves (c. 1850s) that looked pretty darn new. I dunno why people would invest in new graves in an area the Government is trying so hard to get people to leave.

From there we explored and found some vents that were venting the gas from underground. (Pictured below.) Unfortunately, we did not find any instances where the ground had completely collapsed from the underground fire as indicated on the Urban Exploration websites.

Then we checked out the direction of the "landfill." That's where we found this interesting site:

Proof of the fire underground. There were also several people there that appeared to be filming a movie, one of which drove the same car as Sarah. From there, we explored into the woods (ALWAYS a great idea, right?) After walking for a while - I found:

(That's the sound it makes when you pick up an item in the game.)

Hahahahahaha, that was awesome for me. I always joke about my life being a TV show, rarely is it a video game. I've always imagined, while playing video games, that they're so unrealistic because you may occasionally find a flashlight or a wooden plank, but you never find ammo or "potions" just lying around. When I found unfired shotgun shells, my first instinct was to make the above picture happen.

This I thought would be useful to researchers or urban explorers in the future that google and happen to find my blog: a list of the last residents of Centralia. A disgruntled resident (one of the purportedly 8 left) posted this in a sign complaining to Governor Rendell (of PA) in the center of town. I figure since it was posted in public, it's fine its on the internet. (You can click to enlarge that, and see the individual families and one-time layout of the city.)

So, a majority of the city was a disappointment. Then we checked out the City Hall, which looked like it may to at least a slight degree be still active (as the Fire Station and Police were also housed inside.) Weren't gonna see us try to break into an active Police Station - lol.

This siren was very Silent Hill-y. In the games, before the world switches dimensions (erm, just go with it) a city-wide siren goes off. I'd never seen these city-wide sirens before the mid-2000's when Garfield Heights got one to warn of Tornado's, so seeing this 50+ year old one is cool.

The proof of activity, modern ambulances in the garage of the station.

I dunno why, but I really like comparing different logos. Here's the Centralia Police Department's logo on their door. So, from there we decided to explore these two abandoned shacks and continue onto New York.

Awesome Website of the Day:
The Silent Hill Wiki. Just found this looking for an animated Shotgun shell to make that picture up there. I plan to explore it after I finish writing this.

Song of the Day: "Shots" by LMFAO (feat. Lil Jon) - so I downloaded the one good album by LMFAO and am listening through that, so as to not listen to Lady Gaga for five freakin minutes! It helped that on the trip Sarah referenced this song, kinda under her breath in a way I dunno if she even realized she did a handful of times. Mine and Sarah's favorite lyrics I expect:

Shots shots shots shots shots shots
shots shots shots shots shots
shots shots shots shots shots
everybody (x2)

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