The story of Centralia, the town which has had a coal fire burning beneath it for fifty years is the stuff of legend. I won’t retell the story in this post but search for it in the search box and you’ll find numerous posts about it. In short, the town decided to burn its garbage in 1962 and it lit a coal vein on fire which still burns to this day. Thousands of residents moved away, the local highway was ruined and a bypass built, and now after decades of fighting, the remaining residents (all seven of them) have made a deal. They will get a settlement of 218K and get to remain on their land but upon their death the state takes it by right of eminent domain. There had long been pressure on them to sell but they resisted because of the value of the coal that could be mined once they sold. Now those issues are resolved.
When the fire will stop burning, no one knows.
I was on vacation on Florida in 2010 and was visiting one of the many attractions outside Orlando when I noticed this place. I excused myself from the family and poked around. There wasn’t a whole lot to see and the buildings were fairly secure. Was I going to risk injury or arrest while on vacation 1000 miles from home? No, no I was not. I wandered about, took a few pictures and returned to my wife and son. Some research was done once I was back home but there’s nothing really interesting to say about this place. Florida is full of developments that either never got finished or which briefly flaired to life and then died. This is one of many…
I first wrote about Hoffman Grove back in 2006 when I explored the area after one of the homes there was listed in the paper for sale. $200K for a house in Wayne? Yeah, what’s the catch? Oh yeah… constant flooding. Read the original post for the full story, but I found much had changed since I last visited in 2008. here’s some pics. At that time the community was still vibrant and most had refused to be bought out. There was an attitude of “this is what we have to put up with” and the desire to stay was string. After several floods in 2008, the state took action and in 2009, 36 homes were slated to be bought out.. There were several bad floods in early 2011, but Hurricane irene in August of 2011 was the final blow. FEMA stepped in and most of the remaining homes were bought out.
I took a visit to Hoffman grove this morning and what I saw was depressing. There were still many homes left, but most had plywood over the 1st level windows. Some had them over the doors and garage entrances as well. Yet I could clearly see curtains and items inside the 2nd floor windows. And some had cars in front of them. After driving around several times it became clear: cars meant there was a current resident. No cars meant no one was there and never would be again. Many left behind gas grills, toys, lawn furniture and other personal possessions. Saddest of all was the sight of this flag, upside down, the official sign for distress.
here are some pictures I took, the rest are on Flickr
This sounds like a cool place to visit. That and the Honda Test track, though that sounds a bit more well guarded.
First of all, if you’re not watching life after people on the History channel, why not?!? It discusses what will happen to the world if we suddenly disapeared. As the ads say “this is not the story of why we disappear, but of what happens to the world we leave behind.” The most recent episode Sin City, discusses what will happen to places like LV and AC in a world without people.
If you aren’t watching Life After People on the History Channel, you should. The series is based on the best selling book by Alan Weisman The World Without Us, which examines what would happen if humans just vanished from the earth. It doesn’t ask how we might vanish, that ground has been covered by innumerable books, movies and tv shows. It asks what would become of our roads, bridges and buildings, our homes, museums, and the creative works we’ve created such as books and and art? It is a fascinating book and an equally fascinating series.
In it’s premiere episode, the series examined two places that have been abandoned for years: the area around Chernobyl and a mining island called Hasima Island off the coast of Japan. Known as a Ghost Island it was a source of coal for local residents before a mining operation was established. At it’s peak there were almost 1000 people per hectare living on the island, making it the most densely populated place on Earth.
I won’t re-invent the wheel by writing more here. Follow the link above or watch this video. Hashima Island is an urban explorers wet dream, and is place I would love to visit to document for myself…
I received the following email and photographers from a reader.
I saw your page on Demon’s Alley and figured you might want to see inside. I live nearby and have to go past the New City Complex now and again. Even though I know the truth (radon and all that) the area still creeps me out. I think it’s those stupid windows with the fake windowshades. Anyway, I’d never actually stopped to check it out so recently when a friend was visiting from S Jersey I decided to take a stop by. I parked on the side of the road and walked over to one of the houses.
It used to be boarded up good but I see somebody ripped all the plywood off. Assholes. Anyway, the inside was completely rotted out, I mean the floor was *gone*. Nothing left, like rotted away to nothing! One of the other houses was in better shape but I wasn’t about to go in there. Who knows when that floor will give way? Then I’d be a candidate for the Darwin Award. Anyway I snapped a few pics thru the windows and then headed out. You’d be taking your life in your hands if you went in there, besides doesn’t look like there’s anything interesting in there anyway.
Why are people so fascinated with this place anyway? It’s just some houses that had radon. Course most of the people probably believe those horse-shit stories about kids who murdered their parents and the other crap stories they tell to scare each other before coming over here at 3AM. I bet the NWC bulldozes this place just to avoid the headache and the liability. It’s reasons like this why Cross Castle was taken down…
Great site, keep up the good work.