Friday, October 19, 2012

The Highlights, Pennsylvnia Trip 2012

Highlights from our trip across Pennsylvania

(click images to enlarge)

1st stop was Philadelphia to see The Liberty Bell, Benjamin Franklin's grave, The Mutter Museum, and to eat a genuine Philly steak sandwich (not a Steak-umm with Velveeta cheese).

These are the worn steps outside the hall of congress.  On July 9, 1790. The Act established the District of Columbia on the banks of the Potomac River between the states of Maryland and Virginia to serve as the new federal capital. However, Robert Morris, a Senator from Pennsylvania, convinced Congress to return to Philadelphia while the new permanent capital was being built. As a result, the Residence Act also declared Philadelphia to be the temporary capital for a period of ten years.
During the almost ten years it served as the capitol, Congress Hall witnessed many historic events including the admittance of three new states. The United States Bill of Rights was ratified at Congress Hall in 1791. The second Presidential inauguration of George Washington took place in the House chamber in 1793, as did inauguration of John Adams in 1797. Congress also used the time to establish the First Bank of the United States, the Federal Mint, and the United States Department of the Navy. The Jay Treaty, which secured a temporary peace with Great Britain, was also ratified at Congress Hall in 1796.  Think about the people who walked here so often that the solid concrete is now concave with wear.

 Edgar Allen Poe's basement!  
 Is there ANYTHING creepier than being IN Edgar Allen Poe's BASEMENT!
 Yes.  Because in this house he wrote, "The Black Cat,” and, "The Cask of Amontillado."



 Not much has changed since the iconic battle.  Sure, there are monuments but it's still farms and fields.

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was the battle with the largest number of casualties in the American Civil War and is often described as the war's turning point.

Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine

Ashland, Pennsylvania

 The original Pioneer Colliery was operated in Mahanoy Mountain at Ashland in the late 19th century and gave its name to the Pioneer Tunnel, which was owned and operated by the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company from 1911 to 1931.  A steady breeze of 52F flows out of this opening all year round.  Luckily, they provide coats.

 Pioneer Tunnel is a horizontal drift mine. Its level tunnel runs 1800 feet straight into the side of the Mahanoy Mountain. 

 This is the same vein of coal that runs through Centralia, a little town a few miles down the road.

 Good luck from one of the mules that worked this coal seam

 The ceiling

 From outer space to deep underground!  Graffiti from our Mercury astronaut, Scott Carpenter! Always an explorer, Carpenter spent 28 days living on the ocean floor off the coast of California on SEALAB II. 

Centralia, PA

I KNOW you've heard of the city that has been burning since 1962.  Well, this is it!  As soon as I knew we were going to Pennsylvania, I looked up the exact location of this ghost town because I have been hearing about it forever!  

  These are the vents by the old trash dump where the fire started.  No smoke, no heat.  There are some who say the fire has been out for a few years.  There are also those who say smoke comes up from the graves in the winter. I was here in August.  But this is the REAL Silent Hill, the inspiration for the game and movie.
If you're planning a visit, remember that the government doesn't want people here.  Nothing is marked.  Everything is overgrown, roads are torn up or blocked with berms of earth.  This road up to one of the cemeteries was potholes and rubble.  Maneuver that rented car carefully. 

 Stairs that once went to a business or a house?  It's all gone now.  Torn down and grown over.  "Attempts to extinguish the fire were unsuccessful, and it continued to burn throughout the 1960s and 1970s. 
In 1979, locals became aware of the scale of the problem when a gas-station owner inserted a stick into one of his underground tanks to check the fuel level. When he withdrew it, it seemed hot, so he lowered a thermometer down on a string and was shocked to discover that the temperature of the gasoline in the tank was 172 °F (77.8 °C). Statewide attention to the fire began to increase, culminating in 1981 when a 12-year-old resident named Todd Domboski fell into a sinkhole four feet wide by 150 feet (46 m) deep that suddenly opened beneath his feet in a backyard. His cousin, 14-year-old Eric Wolfgang, in pulling Todd out of the hole saved Todd's life, as the plume of hot steam billowing from the hole was measured as containing a lethal level of carbon monoxide.
In 1984, the U.S. Congress allocated more than $42 million for relocation efforts. Most of the residents accepted buyout offers and moved. A few families opted to stay despite warnings from Pennsylvania officials.  In 2002, the U.S. Postal Service revoked Centralia's ZIP code, 17927. 
The Centralia mine fire extended into the town of Byrnesville, Pennsylvania and caused this town to become extinct also."

What used to be the main highway, 4 lanes wide.  Closed and hidden from view.  

No longer safe to drive, the underground fire has buckled and split 2 lanes of highway.
I think Centralia serves as a social experiment into dystopia.  The old highway is covered in graffiti, nothing like the barren lifelessness Hollywood portrays a dead world.  If there's even one human being left on the planet, trust that he or she will want to leave their mark in history.  

Grass grows in the crack where smoke once poured.

Hit that bump at 60 mph!  I dare ya!

Just down the road is where the city of Byrnesville used to be. 
 This monument is all that's left of Byrnesville, Pennsylvania.  The entire area was bulldozed and planted with trees.

 Yes, those are bathtubs.  This is a genuine 100% homemade monument with emphasis on superstition and patriotism.  When your town is destroyed twice, once by natural forces and then by the government, you cling to any magic you can find to keep you safe and to prove you once existed.  Kinda poignant, isn't it?

The main road into Byrnesville, a city that no longer exists.

No comments: