The Centennial Vault, a time capsule in Centralia, Pennsylvania, was opened two years early on October 4, 2014. The capsule had originally been scheduled to be opened in 2016, 50 years after the 1966 centennial celebration for the town.
Here is a photo gallery of the time capsule unveiling event held behind the American Legion in Wilburtown, Pennsylvania. Thanks to Andrew Shecktor, author of Centralia, PA: Devil’s Fire, for attending and posting these images. Also, thank you to Bill Lowenburg for tweeting the images embedded in this post.
@centralia_pa The Centralia capsule was water-filled. If you ever make a time capsule, keep it above ground! pic.twitter.com/1mouVt7zTp
— Bill Lowenburg (@Zorki10) October 5, 2014
The event began at noon on October 4th. It included a number of former residents, reporter and author David DeKok, as well as others interested in the history of Centralia, Pennsylvania. The items recovered from the time capsule were laid out on a table for all to see. Hot dogs, hamburgers, and cold beer were served.
An unexpected series of events led to the early opening of the time capsule. In late May of 2014, someone attempted to unearth and steal it. More than likely, this was one of the numerous visitors to the abandoned town of Centralia PA. Over the years, visitors have taken many signs and other mementos from the area.
Upon hearing this, several groups set about to recover the time capsule. One was comprised of the remaining residents. The other was former residents who left the town along with the Centralia chapter of the American Legion, who now meets nearby in Wilburton.
@centralia_pa I got to the Legion after the ceremony but made a few pics. pic.twitter.com/JCFGGI3DGN
— Bill Lowenburg (@Zorki10) October 5, 2014
Instead of working together, the old wounds between those who stayed and those who left continued to fester. The group of former residents along with the American Legion ultimately won out and successfully recovered the Centralia time capsule in June of 2014.
When they opened it, they were shocked to find that there was about a foot water inside. This ruined most of the items within the time capsule and entirely destroyed anything made of paper.
However, a few items did survive mostly intact. These included a miner’s helmet and lamp, as well as a pair of bloomers signed by the men living in the town at the time. The opening of the Centennial Vault closes one of the last chapters in the town’s history – one that began in 1966 only a few years after the mine fire started burning.
Read more about what was originally buried in the Centralia, Pennsylvania time capsule.
Im from reading pa an I been two centralia pa many times I would love to meet with some residents or former residents to clean up an to learn history thanks…
I been going here seems I was 2 years old back in 1967 love any info on Centrailia
I live in Mt.Carmel && I’ve never heard or seen anything about that time capsule. But the Mine Fire now is still burning and still traveling over to Mt.Carmel. But its not as bad as it use to be so it will take about 50 ir some years to even get to Mt.Carmel.
We went to the area very fascinating! But was very disappointed about all the trash broken beer bottles everywhere. How all the young kids tearing up the land with trucks and 4 wheelers. Disrepecting everything because they dont know how to relate to the history that was once there and is still there. You just have to look. What a great place to walk down the streets that once were homes. To us it was sad that people had to leave. Even walking on the old route 61 was interesting. I don’t mine graffiti all in good taste..but can’t you at least spell D*** or f*** in french or German? Over all it nice interesting but bring a map and do your history to enjoy it more.
Such a shame vandals have to make matters worse to this once thriving town..RIP Centralia
i am one of the 10 people that still live there and it’s like wake up every day smell the fire still burning from year and years ago and i just sit and think wow this is sad there is vandals you see every once in awhile there has been many people ask me from the townships to get out and all i want to do is stay here at my home it is very sad there is only 9 other people only a couple of houses i hope to bring people i know here to live here because even tho the town is burned down to the ground and 99.99 percent chance this will not happen but i hope and try to bring the town back even i know it wont work but i try because this is my home!
Wow only 10 people that’s amazing ….how do yall get food ,work etc. Do u go to next town if so how far is it from u guys I’m so interested please get back to me in my email ….firstname.lastname@example.org
My family was originally from Centralia and did end up relocating too Wilberton 2 and Aristes my great uncle and his wife were married in the Church on the hill. It would be to speak with you and maybe connect about memoirs and local history
Hey Brayden add me on Facebook please email@example.com I would love to get in touch and maybe send som stuff to you n the othe residents.
So very sad what has happened and is still happening there..I’m watching most dangerous places to live on Netflix and Googled, saw your post.
How long have you been there?
Same.. also anyone else wanna talk about how a bunch of men’s names are written on one pair of bloomers? Like women’s bloomers? ?
Lol my husband said they need to check the DNA on them bloomers they all had to be sleeping with the same woman
Hi Brayden. I’m very interested in visiting Centralia. You can find me on Facebook. Or please email me. I have a few questions I’d like to ask…
I always wanted to go there ok. I saw the silent hill movies wondered if the place was real and it turns out it is this place. Its cool how they came up with movie what has to deal with that place.
I know how to put out the fire
Make me the owner of all the land and then ill put it out
Yes ok the gov. Could not do it but you can .
hi i am doing a project on Centralia what other recorces do you recomend
Haha, he can put it out. You sir are a snake oil salesman
Why isn’t there a reality show done to raise the 660 million to put the fire out and rebuild the town.. seems like it would be a hit. What’s 660 million these days. Blm should pitch in since the town was founded originally by a black man
Big mine run geyser that is caused by pressure from the mine just outside of centrailia seems to me would have been a possible solution to extinguish The geyser has been spewing water under great pressure from the mines shifts since 1930s. Seems logical that if they capped it. That the water would back feed the mines and put it all out. But at the same time may ruin the coal production they still exists today not far from that geyser. I was Honestly baffled when I took a drive to the big mine run road and discovered just how close a massive under pressure water source exists. But find no use of it for this Tragedy. There even could have been a pipeline run up the hill to Centralia to fill the mines shafts if plugging the hole it spews from isn’t safe. I can not be the only one in all these years to see that geyser as the way to end this.
And yes the fire still remains I know because I just seen the steam rising behind one of the only houses that remain there three days ago. And this is February 2023.
Why is this geyser not being used to flood those shafts?