Day 96: A Town On Fire


time of year

Big Mine Run Geyser, Ashland, PA, is the only geyser on the East Coast of the United States. In Ashland, Pennsylvania, just outside the ghost town of Centralia. When the mines in the area were abandoned in the 1930s, the empty mine shafts filled with water. When the water had nowhere else to go, it found an escape through an old ventilation hole. The geyser can be as short as 3’ or as tall as 15’ depending on rainfall. The surrounding rocks have taken on an orange hue from the iron rich water.


Active Centralia Smoking Vents, Centralia, PA. The Centralia underground coal fire is still burning and you can see evidence of it here. It’s believed that the fire, which underlies about 400 acres under the former town, has been burning since the early 1960s. The fire is not as strong as it once was and may have moved from where it once posed the biggest danger. Experts say it may burn for another 250 years. The natural vents are a short walk on a path. It’s amazing to feel the heat coming out of these vents and the heated ground. We climbed the hill to see if we could find any other vents and got a little dizzy. After visiting we stopped to read about the history of the area. Turns out these vents are releasing high levels of carbon monoxide into the air and that we were extremely stupid. The town of Centralia was condemned in the early 1990s and buildings demolished. There are still 5 remaining residents who have blocked the roads to the worst cave-ins and buckled roads made famous by documentaries. We drove what’s left. It looks like old roads in a field with blocked off ends.,_Pennsylvania


We passed through Jim Thorpe, PA. The architecture reflects the Victorian wealth of the area. It looks to be very well kept and very popular. Parking was a surprisingly high flat rate of $20.

Hawk Falls, Kidder Township, PA. (1.4 mile total out and back, 137’ elevation). The falls are beautiful and there are interesting cliffs around it but there are signs everywhere saying no wading, no swimming, no picnicking, no entry so you can’t really get close to it or really experience how we like to. Nice stop anyway.


difficulty: 3

Buttermilk Falls at Bearcreek Preserve, PA. We passed this on the road and pulled in to see it. The preserve is home to grey fox, Eastern coyote, black bear, bobcat, and even Northern flying squirrel, which is state endangered. It’s a tall falls with a steep path to the top through evergreens that definitely feel more northern than what we’re used to seeing in North Carolina mountains.


difficulty: 6

Check in at Holiday Inn, Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Price: $139/night.

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