Anthracite coal mining, along with the railroads, helped put Centralia Pennsylvania on the map.
The first railroad with access to the town was the Mine Run Railroad. It was completed in 1854. With the ability to move people, equipment, and minerals, large scale coal mining began in the region.
The Mine Run Railroad was located to the east of Centralia PA and ran along what today we know as Big Mine Run Road.
Another larger railroad line was connected to Centralia in 1865. This was a branch of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. It provided passenger and freight service to and from the town.
For the better part of a century, Centralia Pennsylvania had reliable rail service. This served as an important transportation hub for the town’s growing population.
However, by the mid-1900s cars and trucks had replaced trains as America’s preferred method of travel. Coal mining too was on the decline. As a result, the town’s railroad station fell out of use. It was torn down and the tracks were ripped up in 1967.
That said, there are still remnants of the Lehigh Valley Railroad line in Centralia PA today. Not surprisingly, these can be found along Railroad Avenue on the northern end of the borough.
Anyone visiting Centralia will notice that Railroad Avenue is designed a bit differently than other streets in the town. At first glance, it appears to be four lanes with a center median.
In fact, the center median is where the Lehigh Valley Railroad’s pair of train tracks used to run. Railroad Avenue, then, was positioned along either side of the tracks. Looking east, the tracks connected the town to Girardville. Looking west, they led to Mount Carmel.
While the railroads no longer run to Centralia, the town is still easily accessed by car using Route 61. If you happen to be exploring the town, be sure to check out Railroad Avenue and pause for a moment to remember the trains that once ran through there.
Thank you for an interesting look at the history of a small mining town .My family comes from the anthracite mining area near Wilkes Barre ,Pa . My uncles home was built over a large coal mine that worked 24hrs. A day , and I remember as a little kid visiting there hearing baby-gauge locomotive whistles down there in the middle of the night . What memories !!!! A
Of course! Thank you for sharing your family memories with us.
Hi there, Hope you are well (considering), I’m in the UK, this is the first I’ve personally heard about Centralia and I’m really intrigued. I’ve just watched a documentary from 8 years ago, what’s changed in that time? I’ve heard there’s no schools / banks / stores in Centralia, has that changed? Do you have cable tv etc? sorry for the 1001 questions just extremely intrigued.
Hi Nathan. There are only a couple of homes and about 6 people left in Centralia, PA. The land in the town is owned by the state of Pennsylvania, so nothing new will be built there anytime soon. Here’s a quick gallery of images from this past fall of a recent cleanup effort in the town: http://www.centraliapa.org/photo-gallery-centralia-cleanup-day/ Honestly, most of Centralia is now streets, bushes, and trees. Thanks for your interest in Centralia!
Hey Nathan. Been there 5 or 6 times now as I’m somehow drawn there. On one hand, you think of all those people who lost their homes and your heart goes out to the people and the town of Centralia. On the other hand, (and I mean no disrespect to the residents past or present), .. it’s AWESOME!! Google “Graffiti Highway” .. this is the part of the highway that was badly damaged by the coal fire, to the point where officials closed this section of the road, bypassing it with a new section. I’m actually just about to post my second video on Youtube about Centralia, this one walks you down “Graffiti Highway” Check it out.. Fugi Man on Youtube (Snoopy)
i visited railroad ave no traces of anything railroad related! that is til i found a spike onthe media strip. pretty awesome.
Traveled to Centralia in October of 2015 looking for evidence of LVRR line from Mt Carmel, famous as the route of iron ore trains from Erie to Bethlehem Steel. Unfortunately nothing remains of the railroad, could not find any artifacts, also saw no evidence of the mine fire supposedly still burning under the former town.
Is there any way we could get in contact with you? That would be great, Possibly schedule an interview over the phone.
Railroad Avenue is where my great-great grandmother lived (she died before I was born). I would love to be able to figure out where her home once stood. Thanks for all this information on this site, it is invaluable!
Centralia, I’ve heard stories watched documentarys love it. Hope to visit soon