Recently, there have been several reports of State Police patrolling Centralia, PA. Their efforts appear to be focused near the abandoned section of the Route 61, which is popularly known as the Graffiti Highway. Since 2016, this area has been clearly posted with “No Trespassing” signs that warn visitors to keep off the road.
Last month, Pennsylvania State Police encountered a number of people on the Graffiti Highway. Eight of them were cited for riding ATVs on it, while another 30 were given a verbal warning to leave immediately. Previously, police issued public statements discouraging people from spray painting the road surface. In addition, many areas in Centralia are posted with signs warning against the illegal dumping of trash.
Most of the borough of Centralia is owned by the State of Pennsylvania, since being acquired through eminent domain in the 1980s and 1990s. PennDOT, however, is responsible for Route 61. It was their decision to close a section of the road that had been damaged by the mine fire that inadvertently led to the creation of the Graffiti Highway – one of Centralia’s most popular attractions.
According to PennDOT, this stretch of highway remains a danger to anyone walking or driving on it. As a result, “No Trespassing” have been placed nearby and State Police have been asked to enforce these.
In an interview from the Republican Herald, patrol unit supervisor Corporal Corey Wetzel stated that Centralia is now being actively patrolled for trespassers. Wetzel confirmed that it was PennDOT who asked police to monitor the area more closely. This came after someone at PennDOT learned of a Barbie jeep racing event that was scheduled for early February on the Graffiti Highway. Before being canceled, a Facebook page for the event had attracted hundreds of RSVPs from people hoping to race Barbie Power Wheels on the abandoned road.
PennDOT’s recent concern over the Graffiti Highway probably stems from a concern over liability. The increased police presence is designed to send a clear message to visitors that the road is off limits. Should anyone disregard these warnings and become injured, it is less likely that PennDOT would be found at fault.
Centralia, PA is not a lawless place, and visitors to the town should still obey road signs and respect property rights. Driving on or walking along public roads, such as Routes 61 and 42, is fine. However, disregarding signs that warn against trespassing or dumping trash could result in a citation from police.