The past week, we’ve written quite a bit about recent efforts to cleanup Centralia PA. Some readers have wondered, “Why is the town worth spending time and money to cleanup?”
At first glance, such a perspective is understandable. Hardly anyone lives in Centralia today. It’s mostly uninhabited land owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. So, in that sense, few people directly benefit from the cleanup.
That said, there are a number of equally valid reasons why many people truly care about Centralia and its future. First and foremost, it is a place where families still have roots. Though only a few residents currently live in the borough, the pull of “home” drives people to return to Centralia to visit what remains. Many even decide to be buried there with loved ones.
Centralia, Pennsylvania is also an important piece of history. The founding, rise, and decline of the town mirrors the story of anthracite coal mining within the United States. Additionally, this is interwoven with the rich heritage of those people who moved to the area and built lives there.
Without a doubt, the biggest draw of Centralia PA is the mine fire that has burned continuously beneath the borough since 1962. There are important lessons to be learned from the town’s experience with the infamous fire. Environmental and human disasters can happen anywhere. Dealing with them requires immediate action, effective leadership, and political clout.
For all of these reasons and more, it is essential that we don’t neglect Centralia, Pennsylvania. Out of respect for its current and former residents, it’s important to keep the borough clean and not use it as a public dump. It’s also wise to preserve the history of the town and careful consider the lessons learned from the ongoing mine fire disaster.
While Centralia as it was could note be saved, we can ultimately work to ensure a positive, meaningful legacy for the future of the town.