We Don’t Lose Towns By Mining Sunshine and Wind
Only two words are needed to answer proponents espousing the virtues of clean coal – Centralia, Pennsylvania.
This is a chronological eulogy of a small blue collar town. Full of folks just working for their share of the American dream.
1866 – In the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, Centralia was incorporated as a borough. Throughout it’s life it was predominantly made up of hard working coal miners and their families.
1962 – Population 2,600. The fire began at the town dump and ignited an exposed coal vein. It could have been extinguished for thousands of dollars then, but a series of bureaucratic half-measures and a lack of funding allowed the fire to grow into a voracious monster — feeding on millions of tons of slow-burning anthracite coal in the abandoned network of mines beneath the town.
1970 – Carbon monoxide began entering homes and sickening people.
1979 – A gas-station owner inserted a stick into one of his underground tanks to check the fuel level. When he withdrew it, it seemed hot, so he lowered a thermometer down on a string and was shocked to discover that the temperature of the gasoline in the tank was 172 °F (77.8 °C).
1981 – A cave-in that suddenly opened beneath his feet in a backyard sucked a 12-year-old boy into it’s hot, gaseous void, nearly killing him.
1984 – The federal government appropriated $42 million to acquire and demolish every building in Centralia.
1990 – Census figures showed only 63 people remaining.
1992 – Pennsylvania claimed eminent domain on all properties in the borough, condemning all the buildings within.
2000 – Population 21
2002 – The U.S. Postal Service revoked Centralia’s ZIP code, 17927.
2005 – Population 12
2006 – 16 properties left standing
2007 – Population 9
2010 – Standing before the wreckage of his bulldozed home, a fourth-generation Centralian has little choice but to say goodbye. After years of delay state officials are working to complete the demolition of Centralia, Pennsylvania, then it truly will no longer exist. Entering its final days, a once-proud coal town is little more than a weed infested street grid, void of homes, schools, businesses, houses of worship, all the things that define a town.
State officials say the fire continues to burn uncontrolled and could for hundreds of years, until it runs out of fuel. We are reaping what we have sown …. so rest in peace ……
……… Centralia, Pennsylvania
………… Picher, Oklahoma
………. Love Canal (Niagara Falls), New York
Racing the clock. …. as the green future unfolds.
Tags: american dream, anthracite coal, blue collar town, Building Types, Business, carbon monoxide, census figures, centralia pennsylvania, clean coal, climate, coal miners, coal vein, Construction and Maintenance, eminent domain, Energy Star, environment, Everything Solar, fuel level, gas station owner, Going Green, green, green building, half measures, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, northeastern pennsylvania, proponents, state officials, u s postal service, U.S. Green Building Council, underground tanks, United States Green Building Council, virtues, water, wind, wreckage