I’ve been reading about Centralia, a tiny mining town in Pennsylvania. Its population in 1980 was roughly 1,100. But today its population is a single figure. The town has been evacuated because of a mine fire that has been burning since 1962.
There are numerous pages and pictures about it on the net, and you can see a bird’s eye view of the town on Google Maps. The best history of the fire is by Xydexx Squeakypony. Just click here. And all attempts to put out the fire have failed. And the story about those attempts makes depressing reading. Failure after failure and foul-up after foul-up. The fire that started in May 1962 could have been extinguished in a matter of weeks if the right methods had been used and enough money had been spent. So much for American know-how!
Well, my fascination with the town is nothing to do with the fire. In my alternative reality, the fire was extinguished in the late 1990s by a divine combination of earth tremors and torrential rain. Basically, what happened was the rain water mixed with mud and coal ash flowed down into the mine shafts and the sinkholes on top of the burning coal and smothered the fire.
Once it had been determined in 2002 that the fire was well and truly out, Centralia quickly repopulated. And in addition to the streets that were already there there are several new streets east of Apple Street being developed, not to mention Chesham Park at the eastern end of Park Street, bounded on the east side by the new street Chess Avenue…
You see where I’m going with this? I’m creating my own small town with Centralia as its base.
Who needs Sim City when you’ve got your own imagination?