Is it Legal to Explore Centralia, Pennsylvania?

Centralia Pennsylvania Burn Zone North East
Looking over Centralia PA from the mine fire burn zone. Credit: Flickr/rocbolt

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69 Responses

  1. Ashley says:

    I was recently informed that you can no longer trail ride through centralia but I called the state police and they said you could. Do you know what the situation with trail riding is on the land.

  2. sharon sartori says:

    I was in Centralia August 8th, 2015. There was a man and his family drove up old highway 61 in a pickup! There were several quads on it as well with some people drinking. A dirt bike was there too I guess the driver was possibly over a quard rail exploring something. If there’s any such limit now I didn’t witness it.

  3. Todd Landish says:

    I can confirm the main roads through Centralia are blocked because a large section collapsed recently. Near where the bike shop was.

    • Centralia PA says:

      Hi Todd. Do you have any additional info or pictures of this subsidence? Is it near where Routes 61 and 42 meet?

      • Todd Landish says:

        I do not, but it is where Speed Shop was, the business that was torn down a decade ago or so.

        • Centralia PA says:

          Gotcha. That was at the corner of 61 and 42: We’ll put out a call to see if anyone has some pictures. Thanks for the heads up!

          • Todd Landish says:

            I asked one of the DNR officers who were near the area what had happened, and they also have men walking around with meters and such. They believe the fire has started back up near that intersection, causing the sinkhole. They say it is too dangerous to be there and have asked several tourists to avoid the center of town, and if they MUST explore, to not interfere with their operations by staying to the side roads and away from the intersection. They have routed traffic around with detour signs, which if you enter town from centre st driving in from Mt Carmel, they make you turn down Troutwine, to Park St, then back to Locust. You can also drive down that path as instructed by the signs, which you can connect back with the opened part of Centre St, by turning left where park hits Locust, then driving down a side street. (Which until recently was hardly passable due to overgrowth, but they seem to have fixed that for the detour)

            The area is passable again as of 9/7/15. I was there around 9:30 AM today.

  4. Centralia PA says:

    Hi Todd. Great report and thanks for taking the time to send along! I really appreciate it and will share with our readers. Thanks again!

    • Jenny says:

      Are we able to see the municipal building up close? And are the cemetery open on a regular basis or are they chained shut? I would love to check them out with my family within the next few weeks. We plan to check out the abandoned highway, the cemeteries and possibly the church as well

  5. Liz says:

    Regardless of whether property is privately owned or owned by state/local government, people are still not free to trespass and vandalize these properties. The fact that you find a door or window broken doesn’t make it legal for you to enter. If “tourists” stay on highways streets and sidewalks (if any still exist) they should be ok, unless state/local government prohibits that at some point as well. The fact that large sections are still collapsing suggests that poking around Centralia, while intriguing, may be hazardous to your health. I visited a “ghost town” in Colorado where “tourists” would go walking into private homes without even knocking! I was told that some “tourists” almost got shot over that. I really feel for the remaining residents of Centralia if the morbidly curious are harassing them in a similar fashion.

    • Jenny says:

      Any idea if the current residents are willing to talk to “tourists” I have no interest in any kind of interview or anything like that I just think it would be amazing to speak to them and express my condolences for the loss of their town

  6. Anastasia Esterline says:

    Im sorry but my name is anastasia. I have a great interest in centralia and it crushes me that this place is just falling apart. I wish there was something….anything that could be done. Im only 14 but i wish to visit centralia when im 18. I just hope it has not fallen apart by then. For some reason i have an instant connection to this town and this is just devastating.

    • NHD team says:

      Anastasia I was wondering if we could contact you for an interview. We are doing. A project on the town(documentary) and we would love your input. If we could set something up over the phone or Skype if you are interested email me at or so if you could contact us that would be greatly appreciated.

    • Alyssa says:

      I had an instant connection to Centralia as well, ever since I heard the story of this little town I was just attached. If only there were people allowed to live there, that could continue to keep Centralia alive if nothing but showing somebody still cares about the town and not the fire or Silent Hill .

    • Corey says:

      It’s an eerie site. Hopefully you made it.

    • Mark says:

      Did you ever make it to Centralia??

    • Steve says:

      You should do everything you can to try to visit before you are 18. I’ve a feeling Centralia will not be open to the public much longer.

  7. Mary says:

    Hi. I was thinking and hoping to visit for my bday present next week. Im a huge fan of the silent hill video games and would love to visit the background story behind it. Is it still vistable? I dont want to over step my boundaries for the residents.

    • Alyssa says:

      I know this is a late reply , haha, but it’s still visitable. Just don’t scope out their houses, stare or go on their property because that’d be intrusion on their privacy. But you can definitely still walk around, I went there the other day.

  8. The Violet says:

    Here is a photo of the Speed Shop in Centralia, along with other businesses in 1985. The Speed Shop is the building on the far right

  9. mario says:

    I think it was a big mistake to try pouring wet sand in attempt to smother fire. Once the water boils out the spaces between sand would , I think , allow air to more easily siphon in. I think wet clay would have been better.

  10. Charles Samuel says:

    Are there any lists of internments in the Odd Fellows cemetery?

    • BARBIE says:

      I found a photo of my grandparents’ grave on Find A Grave ( . Although it listed Odd Fellows Cemetery,It was actually GPS coordinates: 40.7988950, -76.2785390, down the road. I read that some sites may have been moved / reinterred. but I’d rather believe that there were two locations for Oddfellows to start with.

  11. Devil Ducky says:

    Like most of you I immediately felt connected with this city, as well as some others that have had the same accident occur to them. I always wanted to buy one and redo the structures, clean them up etc. Possibly charge a small fee for upkeep and even rent the old stores, homes etc out to people who feel same way. Maybe build a historical museum in them for people to learn and appreciate the place. These places are rich in history, and need to be preserved.

    • Mary Jane says:

      Devil Ducky. I have a list of those buried in the Odd Fellows cemetery, centralia. I would gladly look up anyone you want.

      • Jane says:

        Hi. My gr-great grandparents lived in Centralia in 1870. There are on the 1870 census but I can’t find anything else about them. I was wondering if either of them are buried in Centralia. Alexander McDonald born 1810 and Jane Gaughan McDonald born 1824.

    • Brithebushmaster says:

      Is there anywhere to shoot a couple clays with a 12 gauge like you can do in st Claire. Also. Where is it safe to park a vehicle if you wanna buzz around on a quad? Appreciate any thoughts and or facts if you have… thanks , kinda one of those extreme outdoors guy..

  12. Natalie says:

    @devilducky, you do know there are no more buildings other than the municipal bldg and 2 or 3 houses still standing, right? You would never know a town existed there if you weren’t aware of it.

  13. Natalie says:

    @britthebushmaster You can safely park anywhere except for in posted areas. There’s a quad running area on the far end of Wood Street, just past the cemeteries. Be aware of your surroundings, as the ground is prone to subsidence–and it can a long, long way down over there on top of Locust Mountain. As far as shooting, nah, take that elsewhere. There are still a couple families in the former borough that wouldn’t take kindly–and one of those gentlemen would have no qualms about running you out. Coal crackers come from a long line of rough trade.

  14. Jeremy says:

    I heard you can ride from st.clair to Centralia would love to do that sometime any information would be great or guide lol

  15. Brandon says:

    I just got back from Centralia. You can go and explore, but word of the mouth is that police are writing citations for trespassing in specific areas like “Graffiti Highway”. There wasn’t much to see, but I guess that’s the point. I do feel a little sick after being there, possibly due to carbon monoxide exposure. Either that or the 6 hours of driving there and back.

  16. Ember says:

    I’m so ready to come see this place. Been wanting to come since I was about 13. I’m 29. The stars finally aligned and I can come in July. Any places of interest or info on what is off limits would be greatly appreciated. Status of graffiti highway and where the fire was thought to have started (landfill area) would be awesome to know about…like if they are off limits. Research suggests graffiti hwy is at this point.

  17. Ember says:

    Went to Centralia at the beginning of July and it was truly an awesome experience for me. Graffiti highway really was something to behold. I had been informed of citations and policing prior to going, but found none of that to be being enforced actively while there. Many dirt bikes and people on foot walking the highway. Never saw police of any kind while there, but they may only come at certain times. Certainly not one stationed there actively running people off. Graffiti hwy is probably the most popular area to go visit because everything else is so spread out and barren. Houses here and there but not walking distance…cemeteries also. The church, I’m not sure what the deal was. No trespassing signs and ADT signs. Anyone know what the deal is with the church? Why you can or can’t go there?

    • Jeff says:

      Based on bulletins posted online and the church website, it appears that as recently as April and May of 2017, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary church in north Centralia typically had only about one divine liturgy service each week. It also seems that the pastor is in charge of another church as well and does not live in Centralia, so most of the week there is probably no organized activity on the grounds of the church.

  18. Melanie Benash says:

    If the fire is active again and not venting hot gases from the workings, my guess would be that it’s going to be on the West side of South street towards Mt Carmel. There are a series of KNOWN gangways under that section of town, and my research, limited as it may be, has shown that the fire was moving that direction. I know when my late husband and I were up there in 2010, they had a sign on the top of South street which stated there was an active mine fire. Well YEAH! Since moving to PA in 2012 I have periodically gone up there as time and homework allows. On South street alone you can get ground temps between 85 and 109 degrees depending on where you shoot. Make no mistake, this fire is not out by any means and I strongly suggest caution if you go adventuring. I typically stick to the paved areas as these places on South street are of particular interest. DO NOT harass those who are still living there and be respectful of the town and the fire. The days of Coal Region Hospitality sadly faded in the 1980’s. Have fun, but again, be safe and be respectful. I’ll check back in after my planned adventure on 19Jul17 and give you guys an update.

  19. Spike says:

    You can no longer go on the land you will get fined or arrested it is now posted no trespassing and no one lives there any more all roads into the land are blocked

    • Centralia PA says:

      That is actually not true. There are public roads you can still travel on in order to explore Centralia!

      • Tanya says:

        What will become of the borough when the remaining residents are no longer there? Recently watched the documentary The Town That Was and Mr Lokitis was featured heavily, is this ( in your opinion) why the state inforced his eviction? I have been researching Centarlia and found there are now fewer than 5 residents, this is a tragedy. Mr. Lokitis obviously loved his hometown and it’s remaining residents, and shame on this Commonwealth for forcing him out…and for writing off such a beautiful community. As a NEPA resident, from our own little mining town (Olyphant) my heart goes out to all the residents, past and present. The zip code 17927 should forever be in all our thoughts, as it could easily be our borough that is the next TOWN THAT WAS…
        blessing and prayers sent to you all.

  20. JAMES R. WAGNER says:


  21. Denise says:

    Ok now 2018 would love to explore can we still do it with out hassle

  22. Jane says:

    Who would be the best contact for genealogy research for the Centralia cemeteries? I had asked once before but no response. Really hoping to have better luck this time.I found my great great grand parents on the 1870 census. Information on them stops there and would like to see if they are buried in Centralia.

    • Joe Schell says:

      Could you list their names? If you can, I visit Centralia several times a year and would walk through the cemeteries to check. Although the cemetery on the north side of town on the hill usually has “No Trespassing” signs up. The three cemeteries on the south side of town are open to the public.

    • Joe Schell says:

      I should have mentioned in my previous post that I will post a message on this site if I find any information for you.

  23. Lauren says:

    I have had a fascination with Centralia for years and I really hope to visit one day. I am from the UK so I have a lot of saving up to do. I recently read that the fire could potentially burn for another 250 years which I just find fascinating as well as sad. Does anyone know of you are allowed to take pictures? Obviously, if the answer is no I would respect that.

  24. pooperboy says:

    It’s America. Do what thou wilt. So mete it be.

  25. Zachary says:

    Can people still visit centralia.

  26. Nancy says:

    I guess it is my age but Graffiti Highway makes me sick. I truly wish someone would make marring properties illegal. My mother’s family members were from Mt. Carmel and Ashland so what is happening to Centralia just breaks my heart. I took my children to the Ashland coal mine tour in the 1980s and we drove through Centralia. So very sad. In my somewhat elderly opinion, the whole town should be considered holy, consecrated ground because of the vestiges of people’s lives contained there and thus should be respected – no riding through on ATVs or marring any surface with graffiti. Please, people. Respect the lives that were given to support the coal industry, the lost youth spent in the mines, and not only the few who may remain in town, but the lives that were uprooted because of the fire. Drive through in a car if you must but otherwise, let the town and people have the respect they deserve.

  27. Kolby says:

    Hello all, I’m interested in seeing the town with my brother and some of my best friends come July. Would anyone have info regarding how to enter Centralia safely? As well as where we could park? My goal is just to look around the town and take some photos whilst avoiding disturbing locals and I’ve no intention of leaving waste or defacing property. I think it’s a shame that people have vandalized this piece of history to such an extent.

    • Shannon says:

      If you type Graffiti highway into your gps on your phone, it will give you directions. I was just there this past weekend and you can’t miss it with the insane amount of people that are there. There are also a ton of dirt bikes and ATVs – hard to miss. Just follow everyone else.

  28. Shannon says:

    My question is – how does the water system work for the remaining residents? Being as it would be under ground? I’m so curious. It may sound like a silly question but if or when the fire was still burning under ground – would that not effect those resources??

  29. aaron says:

    at centrailia now, graffiti highway is covered with mounds of dirt for as far as one can see

  30. Anna says:

    Has anyone been to Centralia recently? I wanted to plan a trip there with my family but I don’t was to waste a trip.

    • Jennifer says:

      So the graffiti road isn’t there anymore. I wanted to go there to get a pic. Me and my boys were just talking about going there to see everything

    • George says:

      There really isn’t much to see at all. Abandoned roads with weeds growing through cracks and encroaching on the sides. A few driveways to nothing. People imagine it’s a ghost town with intact buildings. All but about three were torn down. It’s just acres of dirt. The fire must have moved or something. Smoke no longer rises from the ground. The Ukrainian Catholic Church is still open and holds regular services. The town’s cemeteries provide a peaceful, reverent feeling. Graffiti highway has been covered with dirt. The “danger mine fire” signs have all been stolen. There’s really nothing to see.

  31. Michael says:

    I am going to open a small hotel in Centralia to cater to the folks that want to explore and may turn it into the second biggest attraction in the Commonwealth.

    • Beartooth says:

      It should be abundantly clear that building anything there or even moving there is illegal and unsafe

  32. James says:

    Would it be possible to build a home here if the home was on a slab?

  33. Jason C says:

    Can you still visit Centralia as of August 2023? If so, is it better to go at any certain time of the year? Pa is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited during the fall season but wasn’t sure if this would be the best time to visit here. If anyone has any knowledge and suggestions regarding timing a visit I would greatly appreciate any information they had.

    • Jess S says:

      Technically yes you can visit. I’ve heard rumors that the state police are more on top of things now, particularly trespassing, but I don’t know if that’s just something made up to scare people away. From what I know about other mine fires, I would say that winter would be a good time to visit especially after a light snow. There might be some spots where the heat of the ground has melted the snow, and any steam/gas could be more visible. Just know that there isn’t much there anymore, there are less signs of the fire and there aren’t many buildings left

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