The town that’s been called the most terrifying place in the United States is facing some changes as state police crack down on trespassers angling to venture onto private property in hopes of exploring the famous ghost town first hand.
Centralia, Pennsylvania has been on fire for more than 50 years. In May of 1962, a landfill fire near town ignited a series of abandoned underground coal mines beneath the sleepy community. Burning sinkholes began to open beneath backyards, roads and homes across town. Since the small town began burning, the population has decreased from a high of 2,449 to a mere 7 residents in 2013.
The ghost town has inspired everyone from Hollywood directors (the horror film Silent Hill is based on Centralia) to graffiti artists. Known as Ghost Highway, the road leading into town has been covered with colorful art over the years.
Now, authorities are finally cracking down on trespassers who are spotted on private land. They’re handing out citations to vehicles and pedestrian visitors found on the eerie stretch of graffiti highway and areas that are not designated as public land. More than 30 explorers have been fined in recent weeks, and state police warn that wandering the area around Centralia will no longer be tolerated. Besides being private property, the underground fires are not closely monitored and there is the chance that earth will open up beneath the feet of some unfortunate explorer.
“It has always been private property,” Cpl. Corey Wetzel, a patrol unit supervisor with state police at Bloomsburg, recently said. “It was closed off for safety reasons way back in the ’80s. It wasn’t necessarily actively enforced, but the property owners and in this case, PennDOT, had requested some additional patrols in the area.”
Check out some haunting aerial footage of Centralia below. You can learn more about this creepy spot in our profile of Centralia here.