Friday, December 6, 2019

Avondale Mine Disaster

Posted by Stu On December - 27 - 2010

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With all the attention Centralia gets, it’s amazing most people are unaware of other mine fires and disasters.  I admit I had never heard of Avondale until I went looking for a geocache hidden there.  How does a mine disaster site with a 100+ death toll become overlooked?

There are 2 signs along the side of Route 11 in Plymouth that give a brief history of the disaster.  From them it’s a very short walk to the site itself, maybe 1/3 of a mile.

As the signs say, a fire broke out in 1869.  A coal breaker caught fire right by the mine shaft.  Since this shaft was the only entrance, workers became trapped inside.  Suffocation was the cause for many of the 110 deaths, including a few good Samaritans attempting to rescue the trapped miners.  It’s no secret young children were employed in mines during this time period; a few of them were also killed.



When we visited, it looked like work had recently been done.  An honorary marker had recently been placed, and what appear to have been two planters were also nearby.  Walls and stairs from the mine can be found all around; we also found a few fairly intact buildings a bit down the trail.





















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Carbondale Mine Fires & Abandoned Factory

Posted by Stu On October - 27 - 2008

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I had read on a number of online forums that Carbondale had 3 fires burning underneath it at once. Having already been to both Centralia and Laurel Run, I was quite interested to check it out. The results were pretty disappointing, but at least I did find a fun abandoned factory to romp around. Of the 3 fires, 1 is thought to have been put out, so we didn’t look for that particular one. The other 2 turned out to be of little interest.

Our first stop was the West Side mine fire, which has caused since its beginning the relocation of over 600 families. We passed by the site numerous times because we weren’t sure if we were in the right place or not. All we could find of the fire was rubble from all the demolished buildings and a few random spots where heat from the underground fire was visible on the surface. In the middle of the area is one large structure still standing, though it looks like it has taken a beating.

There was no smoke coming out of cracks in the ground, or any cracks in the ground for that matter. For a very brief moment, we caught a whiff of that wonderful mine fire smell, but we weren’t able to locate its source. Wandering around the mine fire site wasn’t a complete loss; we came across this big dead factory farther down the road, which would end up being the highlight of the trip.

There was supposed to have been another nearby fire in a culm bank. We found the culm bank alright, but we saw no trace of a fire. I saw no heat coming off the ground or smoke anywhere in sight.

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Red Ash Mine Fire

Posted by Stu On July - 27 - 2008

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With all the attention Centralia gets, it’s no wonder many people are unaware there are quite a few mine fires still going in Pennsylvania, many of those not being too far from Centralia. One such is the Red Ash fire in Laurel Run. Although not as noticeable or large as the fire raging under Centralia, this one has been burning for much longer – since 1915. The fire was thought to be extinguished not long after its discovery, but in the early 20’s people learned it was still going. Many efforts were made to put the fire out, but it wasn’t until 1973 that the fire was declared contained.

There is a lot less smoke coming out of the ground here than there is at Centralia; I was unable to capture any in my photos but did get a 10 second video showing it. The first thing I noticed stepping out of the car was the smell – the exact same noxious smell found at Centralia. There are many vents lining the road; I only saw smoke coming out of a few. Behind those were 2 small cracks in the ground, also producing a small amount of smoke.

Again, sorry for the blah pictures.

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Posted by Stu On May - 20 - 2003

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Originally visited 5/03
New pics from New Year’s Eve ’06

I originally went to Centralia back in May of ’03 with some of the fine folks from I finally went back for New Year’s Eve in ’06 and took what I feel are much better pictures. Some of the original pics can be found at the bottom of the page.

Poor Centralia. There’s been a coal fire burning underneath the town since the 60’s; experts say it has about another 1,000 years to burn. Years ago the government began a relocation program for the residents. Now the town is nearly deserted, with just a handful of people left; they refuse to leave because once they’re gone, the government owns the town. There are many spots where the ground has split open and smoke is rising from the cracks. The smell is horrible, and judging by the helpful sign pictured above, it’s probably not too good for you either.

Part of the original highway ripped open, so another road going to the town had to be built.

Very few houses are left; they are demolished as the people leave. Some roads there look like they run to nowhere, since the housing on them is all gone. Many of the homes were row houses, which also get knocked down once they are vacant. A single row house stands alone at one intersection.

Some of the original pics from 5/03

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