We recently visited a town called, Centralia. On the surface the town probably doesn’t sound like something you have heard of before, but think again. If you have heard of the video game or movie, Silent Hill, you have in a round-about way heard of Centralia.

Centralia Pennsylvania
Silent Hill

It was through our love of adventure and exploring through geocaching that we found out about this infamous “ghost town” of sorts. So we packed up and headed out to do a 50 cache trail.
What we knew about Centralia before we went….

We knew it was mining town, mostly deserted because of a fire burning beneath the ground that will most likely continue to burn for the next 250 years

We knew the Federal Government took all of the properties that weren’t left by choice through eminent domain.

We also heard we could find “smoke”

We are total LOST and X-Files junkies, so this seemed like a must do.

When we got to Centralia with three teens  / tweens in tow, I parked at the opposite side of the trail that my husband had planned. I saw people and spray painted trees and stopped to see.

webkidsgraffiti

We were going to do a Geo Art Trail in the shape of a flame. On these types of trails, you solve questions for “mystery” caches and when you log them they will make a design, in this case a flame. If you become a geeky cacher like us, you will enjoy seeing the smileys form the art design on your map, like the pig on the Hatfield -Mccoy trail shown below, from a trip a couple of years ago.

The Hog Trial Geocaching Power Trail;
Hatfield McCoy Geo Art Pig Trail

We started to walk up a hill. At this point I had not spoken to my husband about the trail and I honestly (since I picked the place) thought it would be various points throughout town and so on this hot day, I thought we would, “snag a few caches,” get back in the car and go for more. We got the first cache and then he told me how many miles it would be as a loop. I realized  with the hot weather, the clothing the boys were wearing and the kids without water, it was not happening this time, even if we might see Smoke. This was a bummer because this trip was 2 ½ hours away from home. But I could see the writing on the wall. It could go bad, very, very bad in this, “Silent Hill,” town if we attempted it this day with these kids. All jokes aside, I am serious.
We walked back down near the tree’s and someone said, “did you see the highway down there?”

Urban Abandoned Street Art Photography
Centralia PA Graffiti Highway Photo

We headed that direction and were in for a big surprise, that even our teen son would love. An urban artscape if you will. An entire stretch of highway filled with nothing but graffiti. Not the fancy graffiti you see on big city wall, no Banksy’s here. Just ordinary people making their mark with words or silly simple shapes. Some rude, some graphic, some sweet. As a whole however, that was the art. If it would have only been a couple of people that painted something, it would have had that dirty negative connotation. “graffiti,” “vandalism” but for us, this bright colored path with hardly a bare piece of pavement in sight was wonderful.


I had the kids pose on the hot pavement (the trade-off for not hiking the long trail) And to their surprise after cooperation, Karma stopped by with 2 full cans of spray paint to offer them. We each took a turn, even though my contribution was barely an infinity sign with two straight lines.


Our son is an artist is his blood and heart, of course did something cool.

webvanossBlazegraffiti7
And when we were finished we passed the paint on to the next group that looked like they found this place my mistake. They were probably here for the smoke, which apparently cannot be seen during the day anyway.
However, we will be returning to Centralia soon to hike the whole trail with another couple. And I am sure we will explore more of the once was town.
For now: a SNEAK PEEK photo of what will be to come in Centralia Part 2. Don’t let the photo fool you, it might not be as colorful. And it won’t be about the spray paint.

abandoned ghost town PA
Graffiti Wall Centralia

A little P.S. One of the best documentary movies we have ever watched is called , “Exit through the Gift Shop.” It’s all about Banksy street art.

12 Comments

  • I am SO intrigued! Our family loves geocaching, and we’ve discovered some pretty cool places along the way – but nothing as unique as Centralia! I really enjoyed tagging along with you through your post, and I am eagerly awaiting part 2! What fun photos, and memories, you are creating for your kids.

    • mowphoto@aol.com

      Thanks for looking. Yes we love geocaching, we plan many of our vacations around it:) And we like to hide them too, a few years ago we hid an XFiles series, many of them were more urban locations with seedy or mysterious feelings like you would see on the show.

  • Great memories made here, as well as creative markers for those who come along later. This is what happens when nature, creativity, and imagination come together. Thanks for posting ~ thoroughly enjoyed!

    • mowphoto@aol.com

      Yes definitely great memories, it’s not often a mom/aunt hands the teens tweens a can of spray paint and says go for it on concrete;)

  • Very cool! There is a similar town called Pitcher in Oklahoma. Tiny town basically deserted except for a couple of government offices. The issue there is Lead I believe.

    • mowphoto@aol.com

      Its weird how they leave the government buildings, when I go back for part II I believe there is a government building as well.
      Lead is very scary. I wonder how many people were sick before they caught it.

  • Fascinating, America has such cool places. I love Banksy too, my daughter lives in Bristol, where she lives is covered in graffiti and there are several Banksys including my favourite Queen Elizabeth Bowie one

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