Centralia was founded in 1866. In 1960, Centralia was a thriving borough with over 1,400 residents. There was a school district, churches, mayor, and stores. It was a coal mining town. In 1962 a fire started in a mine. There are theories, but nobody is sure of the reason. The town didn’t realize the enormity of it until 1979 when the mayor discovered his gas station tanks had reached 172 degrees. In 1981 a 12 year old boy fell into a sinkhole in his grandmother’s backyard and nearly died. By the 1990’s most Centralians had been moved to other communities. The air quality was critical and the sink hole possibility frightening. Today only 7 people remain in Centralia. It’s a ghost town. There are paved streets and sidewalks running through fields. . A highway is closed off and people through the years have used it as a graffiti board. The 4 cemeteries are there. There are very few remains of the homes that once stood on the streets. Forest is overtaking the town.
OPI did a mini investigation of Centralia, wondering if some of the residents had come back. We were able to capture several pictures and EVPs. On the abandoned road, Pennsylvania Route 61, I introduced myself, “I’m MaryJo.” “I’m Bill,’ replied a voice through the spirit box. Also on the box we heard, “red dog” which could either be referring to the paving material or the beer. “Farley has a girl,” was another statement, heard on the camera later. The Mel meter consistently spike throughout the investigation, even though there were no electrical lines nearby. A female voice stated, “She won’t get that halo.” What that meant we don’t know.
Near the cemetery, I commented that some people were walking nearby, and were background noise. “”The living,” a voice told me. “I need you!” a voice pleaded voice. Another voice admitted, “I did it!” We don’t know what he did. We were using the spirit box. Again, the meter spiked.
Walking along the highway, the box gave us an English accented voice telling us, “Baby stuff!” A deep male voice said, “Hago,” which is Welsh for “I do,” just before I asked, “Is there anything you want to tell us?” Many Welsh and Irish came to work in the mines of America. The Molly Maguires were active in Centralia in the 1870s. The only other words I heard in that session were, “Skip it.” “Help me,” someone asked. This was heard later on the recording, in a natural voice.
On an empty street, I asked, “What was here?” “Ghouls!” was the reply. Someone misinterpreted our goal. We were not there to gloat in any way, but to give voice to anyone who wished to speak and to sympathize with their plight. I asked how many were here, and “We couldn’t say,” was the reply. We also heard the word “coal,” and both a man’s and woman’s voice calling for “Eric” in what sounds like a Welsh accent.
On the ridge near the cemeteries, Greg had wondered about a set of steps that seemed to go nowhere. “Half pipe,” said someone. “I heard about that,” responded another voice. “Half,” a voice said again. Perhaps these are some of the later residents.
We are certain there are spirits in Centralia. We can only guess how many and for what reasons. We are grateful that some souls chose to communicate with us. As we drove through the first time, a great feeling of sadness came over me, and I was close to tears. I can only imagine what it was like to be forced to leave your home and friends and start over again. Maybe someday we can return and learn more.