One of the memorable locations in Centralia Pennsylvania is an old, gnarled tree with a few signs on it. The tree can be seen on the right hand side while heading north along Route 61.
The tree has signs noting the location of Wood Street as well as pointing to the direction of the mine fire. The tree stands at the intersection of Wood Street, Locust Avenue/Route 61, and South Street in the borough of Centralia PA.
The fire sign has an arrow pointing to the west across Route 61 and down South Street. This is actually quite helpful when visiting Centralia, as it a nice guide to the location of the current mine fire burn zone.
The signs were most likely erected by Helen and Carl Womer. Their home stood near the eastern end of Wood Street. The Womers were one of the stalwart few residents who refused to leave Centralia, Pennsylvania even after being evicted by the Commonwealth of PA. Carl even served as the last mayor of the town. Sadly, both Helen and Carl have passed away.
The irony of the fire sign is that, while it points to the location of the current burn zone, it actually points away from where the mine fire began in 1962. In fact, the fire began near the end of Wood Street in the Centralia borough dump.
It has been suggested that the Womers put up the signs to keep curious onlookers away from their home. Tired of having people driving by their house and requesting directions to the burn zone, they finally erected a few signs to send them on their way.
Today the signs along with the gnarled tree serve as a reminder of the people and fire that have shaped Centralia PA.