Getaways: Centralia, Pa., is one smokin’ hot town

Photos by Erin McCann

What was it Joni Mitchell sang? “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”? Let’s just say that it took growing up and moving away from Central Pennsylvania for me to realize the true greatness of the place. Amish quilts and baked goods? Rolling hillsides? Whatever. What I’m talking about is the sort of tourist spot that only my homeland can create: an abandoned mining town that’s been on fire for nearly 50 years.

In 1962, Centralia was a small town just like any other, populated by miners and the descendants of miners. There were streets and houses and bars and churches and people. Today? Today there are streets. The houses and bars and churches and people are gone. In their place you’ll find the oppressive smell of sulfur, and steam spews from the ground constantly. It’s a post-apocalyptic wasteland that serves as a symbol of stubbornness, conspiracy and the decay of the American dream.

And it’s three and a half hours from D.C.

(And when you’re done, there’s beer.)

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Adventures, Getaways

Getaways: Gettysburg

Photo courtesy of Cavalier92
IMG_4238, courtesy of Cavalier92

Located only two hours from downtown DC, Gettysburg is probably the most well-known Civil War battlefield in the nation. Originally begun as a memorial in 1864, the battlefield was established as a National Military Park in 1895 and transferred to the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service in 1933.

The quite Pennsylvania countryside around Gettysburg became the turning point of the Civil War during three days in July 1863. When the smoke settled and the clash of arms subsided, over 20,000 soldiers were injured and close to 50,000 were casualties of the brutal fighting. In the end, Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia was a broken force; the South would never recover from the defeat. Continue reading