Odd Fellows Cemetery holds an important place in Centralia PA and its history. It is right near where the mine fire began in 1962.
In that year the town landfill, which had previously been a strip mine, was set on fire in an attempt to clean it up for Memorial Day. The landfill lie to the north and was adjacent to Odd Fellows Cemetery.
Unfortunately, the fire was not properly extinguished, and it slowly made its way into the abandoned coal mines below the town. The fire is still burning today.
Odd Fellows Cemetery is an interesting place to visit. It’s located on Second Street just north of the closed section of Route 61. The cemetery is surrounded by a wrought iron fence and contains numerous graves.
Many people are left wondering, “Who were the Odd Fellows, and why did they have a cemetery in Centralia, Pennsylvania?”
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows actually dates back several hundred years to England. According to one legend, this fraternal order wasn’t exclusive to the nobility. Rather, even working class individuals could join. This was considered “odd” then, and their name was born.
The Odd Fellows were quite progressive for that time. In fact, it was in 1851 that they became the first national fraternal order to accept both men and women.
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows had members throughout the coal region of Pennsylvania, including in Centralia. They were known especially for their dedication to community service.
Odd Fellows projects include caring for the elderly and orphans, supporting education, providing relief for those in need, planting trees to help the environment, and establishing community cemeteries.
Today, Odd Fellows Cemetery serves as a reminder of Centralia, Pennsylvania’s once vibrant past, and of the mine fire that was the town’s undoing.