Did you know there’s a geyser near Centralia, Pennsylvania?
It’s not actually a true, naturally formed geyser. Rather it was created accidentally by humans as a result of mining activities.
The geyser is located just south of Centralia PA outside of the town of Ashland. To get to it from Centralia, following Big Mine Run Road out of the borough and down the mountain.
When you get the intersection with Oakland Avenue, make a right. Follow this about 400 feet. The location of the geyser will be to your left. It’s along the bank of Mahanoy Creek and across from the site of Ashland Foundry and Machine Works.
Unfortunately, the geyser isn’t always visible. It’s best observed after heavy rains have soaked the mountain.
As mentioned earlier, the geyser is not a natural geologic formation. Instead, it is the result of the mining of anthracite coal in the area.
It has been said that the water powering the geyser is runoff from the Bast Colliery. In the 1800s, there were many collieries in the region. The Bast Colliery was located just north of the geyser along Big Mine Run Road.
More than likely, the geyser is part of an old mine drainage tunnel. Many of these were dug into the mountain in the 1800s to lower the level of the groundwater. This enabled miners to reach coal deeper within the mountain.
One of the original plans to fight the mine fire under Centralia PA called for all of the nearby drainage tunnels to be closed. The hope was that by doing this the groundwater level would rise and help to extinguish the fire.
Several concerns were raised regarding the plan which caused it to be shelved. One of the biggest was that raising the groundwater level could increase the potential of high-pressure blowouts.
The mine geyser is a perfect example of how this could happen. The water erupting from it is under immense pressure, causing it to shoot as high as 15 feet into the air!
Next time you are visiting Centralia, Pennsylvania after a heavy rain be sure to swing down Big Mine Run Road and checkout the geyser.
I remember my father telling me that at one time they wanted to put tunnels though the mountains to drain all the water off.