America’s Man-made Ghost Town: Centralia, PA
Centralia is a modern-day ghost town created by man.
Centralia, PA was an ordinary town with a steady population of a thousand or so residents. Centrally located within the state, Centralia was a coal mining town. In 1962, local volunteer firefighters sought to clean up the town’s landfill and set it on fire. The fire was never extinguished and went subterranean. In 1972, then-mayor Jim Coddington, owner of the local gas station, recorded elevated temperatures in his gasoline tanks. It wasn’t until 1981, when 12-year-old Todd Domboski fell into a sinkhole, that the government took notice. By then roads were cracking with hot steam floating up.
Congress allocated $42 million to relocate the town. All but a handful of residents left. In 1992, the US government proclaimed eminent domain and reclaimed the land. After demolishing the houses and buildings, the government let nature take over. Today, only 5 residents remain. However, the town is a popular “Dark Travel” destination. Please remain vigilant and respect the land if visiting.
Do You Ancestry? You May Have Paranormal Connections
The NPR episode detailed the StoryCorps episode of Bill Jones, a homosexual man who longed to become a father. The late sixties were a challenging time for adopting out older children, particularly in California. In 1969, Bill adopted Aaron, a hard-to-place boy who was born to a heroin addict. Bill retold the story to his friend, Stu Maddux, which was recorded for the non-profit StoryCorps. Its “mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.” Listening to Bill’s story as he discussed how Aaron was diagnosed as schizophrenic and dying from a heroin overdose at age 30 was heartbreaking. Bill has no regrets only enduring love for his son. His story resonates as people discover their family lineage and pen the stories of their relatives. Genealogy is a popular hobby and well worth beginning.
Outlining family trees has always been popular. Past generations kept records of family member milestones and past those memories down, usually through a family Bible. Today, it’s important to know your family history, most notable for medical reasons. People who know their family medical histories are better equipped to prevent illnesses. In addition, they are able to incorporate preventative measures into their lifestyles. However, not all diseases are hereditary.
Genealogy also provides a historical prospective by showing what events helped shape the person one becomes. It also links people to long-distance relatives one would never know or meet.
There comes a point when the genealogist hits a dead end. Or a roadblock. To help get over the obstacle, Ancestry.com started matching people’s DNA. By submitting saliva, one can learn the composition of her ancestry while connecting to other relatives. The DNA test makes a great gift. I purchased one for my mom for her birthday. Her DNA composition was nearly the same as she was told growing up: Irish, British, and Western European. I haven’t had much difficulty in her line. I’ve been able to trace it back to the 1700s. My father’s side, however, has been more problematic. Therefore, I just sent off my saliva to see my DNA matches. Fingers crossed I get some matches. If not, I’ll turn back to my mom’s side and keep updating my forms.
For me, genealogy is solving a mystery. I become a private detective sifting through clues and historic documents to assemble my lineage. I love it. I spend a lot of time researching my family lines. I go back through adding more details to the family information sheets I created. I’ve found incredibly fascinating facts. For instance, I have a cousin who died on the RMS Titanic. She was trying to get back to the United States to see her dying mother. She wasn’t even supposed to be on that ship, but her itinerary changed. Tragic story. One I’ve written down for my daughter to pass down to her children.
One day, I’ll go through reading census forms writing down old home addresses. Then I’ll Google the addresses to see if they still exist. Some do; most don’t. Towns evolved into cities; homes torn down for progress. A few years ago I wrote down townships. My grandfather on my father’s mother’s side was a farmer in West Virginia. His 1920 Federal Census report shows he lived near Nuttall, West Virginia. I jotted down a note about how the town was also called Nuttallburg and is now a ghost town owned by the Department of the Interior. Recently, I was reviewing his record adding more information when I read my notation. I was curious. So I did an Internet search. Turns out Nuttall is a pretty big deal in the paranormal world, and I’ve got direct descendants who lived and worked there! Outstanding. This summer I’m heading up to West Virginia to visit the area. Follow my blog as I add pictures and share my experience hiking through the old coal mining town.