Who owns Centralia PA? In short, the owner is the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Before the 1980s, the borough of Centralia was mostly owned by private citizens and organizations. This made it much like any other town or city. However, in 1983, Congress approved $42 million to relocate anyone in the borough who wanted to leave. It was a last ditch solution to the mine fire problem, after the many previous attempts to control it failed.
At first, no one was forced to leave Centralia PA. It was entirely voluntary. Once a property owner decided to relocate, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania would compensate them and, in return, acquire the deed for the parcel. Eventually the structures on these lots were demolished. This created the empty, forested landscape found througout the town today.
In 1992, Pennsylvania Governor Robert P. Casey declared eminent domain over the remaining, privately owned properties within Centralia. This was done out of concern for the safety of those living there. The remaining residents were asked to leave and the state forcibly acquired the deeds to their lots. Still, some people stayed, and because they refused to relocate, they didn’t receive any compensation for their property.
At this point, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania owned most of the borough. It did not, however, take control of the Centralia Municipal Building or the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church on the hill above the town.
Suddenly, those who refused to leave their homes were left in an unusual position. The state owned the deeds to their properties, meaning it was responsible for paying any taxes on their parcels. Additionally, many in the state viewed the remaining residents as squatters, since they no longer owned the homes and had been told to leave.
This frustrating situation sparked a number of legal challenges throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Finally, in 2013 the state reached an agreement with the remaining seven residents of Centralia, Pennsylvania. They would be paid for their properties and could stay there as long as they lived. That said, they could not sell or transfer the land as the state held the deeds.
So, while there are still several inhabited homes in Centralia PA, the people who live in them are not the lawful owners. They have been permitted to stay there by the deeded owner – the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
I just watched the video, “The Town that Was” and googled a follow up on John Lokitis. Why was he forced to leave Centrailia in 2009 and others were allowed to stay there?
The others were part of a lawsuit to fight the eviction notices the state of Pennsylvania sent to them. They ultimately won the right to stay in their homes until they pass on. However, they technically do not own their properties anymore. They cannot sell them or give them to others.
I am the US Correspondent of Germany’s biggest sunday newspaper “Welt am Sonntag”. I just came across the story of Centralia and find it astonishing. Many journalists have written about the town before but not in Germany.
I therefor think it is a story German readers would like to read. Could you let me know how I can get in touch with you? Please send me an Email and we can take it from there. It’s kind of time sensitive unfortunately as I am leaving for my Christmas holiday by the end of next week. Would be great if you could contact me as soon as you get this. Thank you very much.
Kind regards, Tina
Tina, somewhere I have many pics of Centralia from approx 15. years ago. That was my first visit,on a motorcycle ride. I also have pics from a more recent visit, about 8-9 years ago. If your interested I could find a place to scan them & send them to you. I’ve been extremely interested in this town since I first heard of it. I’m curious to know how the remaining residents have water service. I can’t imagine well water being a way , considering it’s a mountain of coal. Neither does city water make sense, as it would need occasional maintenance
BARRY ID AS WELL WOULD REALLY BE INTRESTEDTO SEE PICTURES OF THE PAST CAN YOU SEND THEM TO GUTTERMAN454@COMCAST.NET THANK YOU !!
Have you gotten info you requested
My family ancestors are all from that area ( half from Centralia)
Me too. Kane and Gillespie. Which is your family?
i am doing a school report and this is my topic its really cool
I have been here and it is insainly crazy the feeling you get from walking through that town that was once there.
My interest was aroused when I read Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods.
I wanted to know more about Centralia. Thank you.
Hi Joy, I saw your comment whilst I was looking up information about Centralia. I too am reading A Walk in the Woods. It’s an interesting read and I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am. Cheers Kylie
I too am currently reading Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods. Until reading about it in his book, I was completely unaware that the town existed and googled for information. The history and story of its residents is both amazing and sad at the same time.
A very good read. Real intriguing.
Wondering if it would be a good place for a “geothermal” power plant or water heater circulation base…
Can this land be bought back from the state? I’d like to “recycle” the land fund finding a solution to the fire problem!
They will never sell the land to anyone for any reason. They aren’t even allowed to ask the current residents to move out until they die. That’s why they have been bulldozing all the houses they can get their hands on to stop people from moving into the town.
i want to talk to someone that will sell it.
you don’t dig air holes for a fire
Bruh nobody has tried to put the fire out!
Last effort during Thornburg admin
You can’t put a over 3k acre fire out, damn near impossible, but to destroy 70-80yrs of history because no one felt like taking care of it is just criminal. Yes graffiti highway is gone, just mounds of dirt. I hope the ones who did that have nothing but bad luck, should have never disrespected it and should never try to hide things away. Stop being lazy.
I’ve visited many times with my daughter. It’s so sad . We are always respectful. But it is a tragedy. And you should definately not bother the people still living there. I wish there was a alternative to the land use.