In 1966, only a few years after the Centralia, Pennsylvania mine fire began burning, the town buried a time capsule near the local veterans’ memorial. Both were in the lawn of the American Legion Post 608, which has since been razed. The reason for the capsule was to celebrate of the borough’s centennial. Centralia was founded in 1866 by Alexander Rea.
Inside the capsule was placed a miner’s lamp, coal, a Bible, as well as local souvenirs and literature. According to Joan Quigley in her book The Day The Earth Caved In: An American Mining Tragedy, these items were chosen to honor the town’s history and working class background as miners.
The capsule is to be opened in 2016, the year of Centralia’s sesquicentennial. Looking back, it’s sad to consider how much has changed for Centralia, Pennsylvania in the course of the last 50 years. The residents living in 1966 could hardly have imagined that when the time capsule was opened in 2016, the entire town and its people would be gone.
Given the growing interest in Centralia, PA and the mine fire, many people have become concerned about the safety of the remaining buildings and relics around the town. This include the veterans’ memorial, whose bell was relocated in 2009, and the time capsule.
In June of 2014, after noticing the time capsule had been tampered with, borough officials decided to remove it, and place it into safe keeping. Though it has been removed from its original location, the capsule is still schedule to be opened in 2016. What an interesting and melancholy event that will be!