Centralia, America’s Lost Town is a terrific 17 minute documentary film that chronicles key aspects of the Centralia, Pennsylvania mine fire disaster and its aftermath.
Released in 2014 and directed by Joe Sapienza II, this documentary features a wonderful blend of historic photographs, engaging interviews, and footage of Centralia PA today.
Sapienza interviews important figures connected with the community of Centralia. These include David DeKok, writer and author of Fire Underground; Colleen and Joe Coddington; Tom Dempsey, Centralia’s former postmaster; and many more.
One of the strengths of Sapienza’s documentary style is the way he blends events of the past with commentaries and stories from present.
Using a wealth of historic photographs from Centralia Pennsylvania, the film provides an informative and engaging overview of the the town and the mine fire which ultimately was its undoing. Many of the images cannot be found elsewhere on the Web, adding extra depth to the story.
Sapienza layers into the documentary a number of emotional, first hand accounts from past residents. People, like the Coddingtons, visit the sites of their former homes and discuss what it was like to live in Centralia PA and be forced to leave it.
David DeKok, who is one of the foremost authorities on Centralia’s story, provides additional details on the town and mine fire that ravaged it. Taken as a whole, the documentary gives a unique perspective on the town’s story.
Sapienza’s passion for Centralia, Pennsylvania isn’t spent yet. On October 25, 2014, he and a group of volunteers will work to cleanup trash in and around the borough. Learn more about the Centralia cleanup day.
He also plans to release a full length documentary on the town sometime in 2015. Without a doubt, this will be required viewing for anyone interesting in the Centralia mine fire disaster and the present state of the borough.
There have been many, many stories and videos about Centralia and the fire.
There is still one story that needs to be told. over 25 years after the major relocation of the town the big question remains to be answered. Did all of the town of Centralia, Byrnesville amd other adjoining areas need to be moved. At least half of Centralia and all of Byrnesville has no sign of the fire today. I would guess that homes that were relocated along the route 61 highway going to Mt. Carmel will never see any any fire.
I relocated from Byrnesville and still take care of the shrine on the hillside.
Hi Michael. You raise many good questions.
This is just my opinion, but the entire town didn’t need to be relocated. Why should people be forced to leave if they don’t want/need to go? People live by rivers that flood, in earthquake zones, etc. These are all dangerous. Yet, they are not forced to leave.
Also, thank you for your work on the Byrnesville site and caring for the shrine.
I went there last week for a drive though just amazing on the streets and no house and stop sign I need to put my pictures up all the way from Massachusetts. ..