By most accounts, Carl Womer was the last official mayor of Centralia, Pennsylvania. Sadly he passed away on May 24, 2014 at the age of 90.
While the title of mayor appears to have been retired with his passing, the town still has leadership. Both Stephen Hynoski and Tom Hynoski currently help to maintain the borough and keep municipal affairs in order. Though with a population of only six, managing Centralia is very much a group effort for all the residents.
Carl Womer lived near the end of Wood Street in Centralia PA. He was born in the neighboring town of Aristes in 1923. Womer graduated from Conyngham High School in 1941 and majored in machining at the Williamsport Technical school. He served in World War II and saw active combat in Europe.
Working as a machinist, Carl moved to Centralia Pennsylvania and raised a family there. He was married to Helen Womer, who passed away in 2001. She was an early activist in the town, pushing state and federal officials to do something about the mine fire.
She had reason for concern. The fire began only a few hundred feet from the Womer’s home near Odd Fellows Cemetery. In later years, the Womers would take the position that the lack of response to the mine fire was part of a government conspiracy to take the huge amounts of anthracite coal under the borough.
Carl Womer was one of the last residents of Centralia. For years, he fought eviction by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It was only in the fall of 2013 that he, along with five other residents, settled with the state. They received a payout for their properties and were allowed to stay in their homes until they died.
Today, Carl Womer is remembered as a kind person who was always happy to talk to visitors to Centralia PA and tell his side of the mine fire story.
I would love to talk or help clean up centralia
Hello, I love reading all of these posts. In fact, I actually did just recently visit the town. I am a college student and I am doing an article on the town for one of my journalism classes. I was wondering if you could help me get in contact with one of the leaders or even a resident that would be willing to talk?
I was in Centralia, PA yesterday and what an education I received BY A FRIEND OF MINE THAT WAS BORN THERE. He took me there and sadly attempted to showed me where his grandmother’s house used to be between two trees. It really is a story about love and lost of a person’s personal/family roots. Very, very PROFOUND and sad experience. However, grateful that Vinnie Morris share his story with me. EJN
hi evelyn who showed you around ?
It sad All my family was from here. I visit this town a couple times a year sometimes just by myself just to remember the good times I had here as a child. No one could ever understand the people of Centralia unless you lived there, grew up there or had relatives there. It truly was an amazing place. Its so hard to explain. Its worth the two hour journey just for me to drive there just to look for a few moments.
Hello people of Centralia. I visited your little town, and what is left of it just recently with my family. It made me sad, and angry. How someone could set a town a blaze and walk. How no one would try and investigate ways of putting these fires out, about how people come and spray paint and lued. I am so saddened and sickened. How can we get this town back on the map, how can we get it the attention it needs?! I will help in whatever way I can. Please get in touch!
I was through Centralia in 1992 or or 1993 and I could see the smoke coming out from underground. I was traveling on Route 61. What a shame the town had to be a banded. I wonder the effects on the people? I’d love to hear more since that was 25 years ago.
I visited Centralia in 2004 on a nice day; a peaceful little town.
My name is Andy Levan the grandson of Guy Levan from Aristes. He often spoke of Carl and mentioned they were best friends as children. Can anyone get me in contact with Carl’s family I’m doing research on the entire area and the fire.
I’m also researching the area and looking to get in contact with individuals who lived/knew people who lived there. Were you successful?
Visited in 1984 on vacation with family. Many homes outside of town center still occupied. Got photos of my kids standing on mound of dirt with smoke coming up between their sneakers.