Centralia, Pennsylvania: The Real Silent Hill
I am sure that avid gamers end horror movie enthusiasts are pretty familiar with the Japanese horror franchise that is Silent Hill. The franchise, which originally started as a survival horror video game and is playable on PlayStation, Xbox, and Wii consoles, has spawned two hollywood films and several merchandise.
What is Silent Hill?
If you aren’t familiar with Silent Hill, it’s a city which exists in an alternate reality where people — usually those with deep personal/emotional problems — find themselves into. During the day, it is a extremely foggy ghost town where ash ceaselessly fall from the sky. Once evening comes, however, the city turns into a place nothing short of a nightmare. In the game, otherworldly monsters begins rise from the darkness and starts roaming the streets and buildings. Beneath the city is the never ending fire that leads to a hellish place which the player needs to venture into.
Sounds scary, right? No way can Silent Hill be based from a real life city, right? Wrong. Silent Hill is actually based off an actual place: Centralia, Pennsylvania. Well, at least part of it. Fortunately, no actual monster actually lurks the desolate streets. So put down that pickaxe down, son. So what exactly does Silent Hill and Centralia have in common? Simple. Both places have been burning for years.
Underneath Centralia, there was once a coal mine which once provided the coal for the city’s power plant. However, on May 27, 1962, a disastrous fire broke out. Many believe that the fire was started after some miners burned their garbage in one of the old strip mines, which in turn ignited the surrounding coals. The fire lasted for days, weeks, months, years, and eventually decades. At some point, the government had urged the citizens to move out of the place due to the dangers of sinkholes caused by the heat as well as the smoke that rose from the cracks in the concrete and soil.
To this day, the fire continues to burn, making it one of the longest lasting underground fires on Earth. It has been burning for 54 years.
Now, the city looks like some creepy horror movie set thanks to the boarded up buildings and abandoned homes.
Before the fire, Centralia used to be the home of more than 2,000 citizens. However, since the disastrous incident, people eventually left their homes and businesses. Today, there are only 10 people living in the city.
Dangers of Centralia
While many people (read: horror fans) visit the outskirts of Centralia for some souvenir photos, people are generally urged to stay out of the city due to the possibility of sinkholes as well as the presence of dangerous gases.
Back in February 14, 1981, a 12-year old boy named Todd Domboski nearly fell down the fiery pit that suddenly appeared in his grandmother’s backyard. Fortunately, he was able to grab onto a nearby tree root whilst screaming for help until his cousin heard him and pulled him out of the hole.
If you’re truly interested in venturing through this real-life Silent Hill, I suggest that you do not go along and always use common sense and proper judgement before doing anything too risky.
Because who knows? Pyramid head and his legion of twisted monsters could actually be down there. Waiting for their next victim…