The Daily Show featured Centralia, Pennsylvania in a segment which aired on August 22, 2001. Using their unique blend of facts and humor, Jon Stewart and Matt Walsh examine the future of coal energy in America through the story of Centralia.
The segment shows footage of Centralia circa 2001, including scenes from around the town, abandoned streets, steaming burn zones, and the buckled remains of Route 61. These begin in the video around the 1:30 mark.
There are also interviews with two of the remaining 18 residents, John Comarnisky and Lamar Mervine. Comarinsky touches on how the government used its power to force residents to leave. Mervine, who was actually mayor of Centralia, Pennsylvania at the time, mentions why the town is a wonderful place to live.
The show is definitely good for a few laughs, as Walsh cracks jokes about the mine fire and sarcastically shows the great potential of coal. At one point, he even pats Mervine on the back with an oven mitt!
However, anyone familiar with the story of Centralia, PA can’t help but feeling a bit sorry for the residents featured in the show. By 2001, there wasn’t much left in the town. What remained only served as a curiosity for tourists and the butt of a comedian’s jokes.