WTF Fun Fact 13384 – Centralia Mine Fire

In Pennsylvania, a fire has been burning underground since May 1962. This coal-seam fire, known as the Centralia mine fire, has defied all attempts to extinguish it and continues to smolder to this day.

The origins of the Centralia mine fire

The exact cause and start date of the Centralia mine fire remains a matter of debate. Some suggest that it was ignited deliberately on May 27, 1962. That’s when the town council set a fire to clean up the landfill in an abandoned strip mine. However, others argue that the fire had already been burning before that fateful day. They think it may have originated from the Bast Colliery coal fire of 1932.

Regardless of its precise origin, the fire quickly spread into the labyrinth of abandoned coal mines beneath Centralia. This helped perpetuate its unstoppable grip on the town.

The extent of the destruction

The Centralia mine fire is estimated to have the potential to burn for more than 250 years. It stretches over an area of 3,700 acres and reaches depths of up to 300 feet. This is a result of the abundance of coal and network of underground tunnels providing a fuel source.

Efforts to extinguish the fire have been futile, with multiple excavation projects failing to snuff out the flames.

The impact of the Centralia mine fire on the town and its residents has been catastrophic. Over time, the hazardous levels of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and low oxygen levels caused health concerns, leading to the evacuation and relocation of most residents.

By 2017, the population dwindled to just five residents. That’s a stark contrast to the 1,500 inhabitants at the time the fire began. Abandoned buildings, crumbling infrastructure, and eerie streets shrouded in smoke have transformed Centralia into an unlikely tourist attraction.

The ongoing legacy of the fire

As the fire persisted, legal battles and controversies emerged. In 1992, Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey invoked eminent domain, condemning all the buildings in Centralia. The government offered the residents buyouts, and most accepted, leaving only a handful determined to remain in their homes.

Despite appeals, the remaining residents were eventually ordered to leave. However, the town reached an agreement in 2013 to allow some holdouts live out their lives before the properties would be taken through eminent domain.

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Source: “This Mine Fire Has Been Burning For Over 50 Years” — History Channel

WTF Fun Fact 12910 – Iron Mountain Vault

Not many people have heard of Iron Mountain – especially outside of western Pennsylvania. It’s probably better that way since no one is allowed near it. Iron Mountain is a vault holding some of the nation’s (and the world’s) most valuable documents and recordings.

What is Iron Mountain?

Iron Mountain Vault is a data storage facility buried deep underground in the hills of western Pennsylvania. The 1200-acre vault used to be a limestone mine, and you’d have a hard time finding it today even if you looked. They obviously don’t advertise or have big signs letting you know you’re there.

Oh, and there are guards to make sure people don’t get anywhere near it.

According to Penn Live:

“Miners created the cave by exploding 3,000 sticks of dynamite nightly over the course of five decades. They abandoned it in the 1950s when surfacing mining became a cheaper alternative to unearth the limestone.

Soon after, the mine was converted into a storage facility, storing paper records. In more recent years, it became a place to house data centers, including many of those belonging to government agencies and private companies.

The mine is like a small underground city. It has its own fire brigade with trained firefighters, security, streets, a speed limit (10 mph), traffic signs, street names, pedestrian walkways, and addresses assigned to its thousands of tenants that occupy its 16-foot-high corridors.”

What’s inside the Vault?

There’s plenty of mundane stuff (at least to most of us) in Iron Mountain. The facility’s owner simply rents out the space as well as takes on the temperature control and safety responsibilities.

The vault continues to grow, sprawling out with each new customer. Around 2,000 people work at the mine these days.

And what’s inside? Well, a lot – from the accounts of nearly every government student loan holder to master recordings of Ozzy Osbourne and Frank Sinatra. According to the Iron Mountain website, the facility stores “some of the world’s most valuable information.” They’re just not real specific about what it is.

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Source: “Inside Iron Mountain” — Penn Live

WTF Fun Fact 12609 – Unexpected Tenants Cause a Buzz

Justin and Andrea Isabell never had plans to invite tenants into their 100-year-old Perkasie, Pennsylvania home. But nature finds a way.

The couple went viral in 2020 after Tropical Storm Fay rolled through and left them with a mysterious substance running down the walls of their mudroom. Justin decided that the best way to solve the mystery was to taste the substance which (lucky for him) was honey.

After the recent tropical rainstorm soaked our area, we walked in the house through the backdoor and were faced with a stream of something coming down the walls,” Andrea told TODAY. “I was afraid it was water damage, but my husband made a closer inspection to discover it was honey. We were pretty surprised and didn’t understand how that could happen.”

Only after the discovery did they see the bees swarming around their rooftop. They had never spotted nor heard that creatures before that.

I was pretty overwhelmed imagining what a mess this would be to clean up combined with the costs of repair to the house after the bees were removed,” Isabell said.

The clean-up only involved removing the honey and the comb. It turns out the bees had largely given up on their squatting rights after the rainstorm damaged the honeycomb.

“The comb was damaged from the rainstorm and they’re too smart to stay and have that happen again,” Isabell said. “We will still be having the comb removed and see if we can determine how long we had unknown guests.”

The couple’s Facebook photos went viral, and even show Justin licking the wall.

In their final update, they told those following the story:

“FINAL UPDATE: Bees naturally swarmed off due to the damage to their hive that caused the honey leak the Sunday/Monday after all of this hit the internet. They were found 2 days later as a massive swarm in a neighbor’s tree. The beekeeper, from Yerkes Farm, collected all bees and queen and re-hived them at his location. The bees survived. My house has not been opened up yet as the bees aren’t an issue any longer… when I open the wall, I will take pictures if hive is significant.” – WTF fun facts

Source: “After noticing honey dripping down their walls, couple discover bee problem” — TODAY

WTF Fun Fact – Official State Firearms

WTF Fun Fact - Official State Firearms

Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia all have official state firearms ranging from a single action revolver to a semi-automatic sniper rifle. WTF Fun Facts