Fire Underground

Author: David Dekok
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 9780762758241
Release Date: 2009-10-01
Genre: History

How a modern-day mine disaster has turned a Pennsylvania community into a ghost town * For much of its history, Centralia, Pennsylvania, had a population of around 2,000. By 1981, this had dwindled to just over 1,000—not unusual for a onetime mining town. But as of 2007, Centralia had the unwelcome distinction of being the state's tiniest municipality, with a population of nine. The reason: an underground fire that began in 1962 has decimated the town with smoke and toxic gases, and has since made history. Fire Underground is the completely updated classic account of the fire that has been raging under Centralia for decades. David DeKok tells the story of how the fire actually began and how government officials failed to take effective action. By 1981 the fire was spewing deadly gases into homes. A twelve-year-old boy dropped into a steaming hole as a congressman toured nearby. DeKok describes how the people of Centralia banded together to finally win relocation funds—and he reveals what has happened to the few remaining residents as the fiftieth anniversary of the fire's beginning nears.

Slow Burn

Author: Renée Jacobs
Publisher: Penn State Press
ISBN: 9780271036816
Release Date: 2010
Genre: Photography

"A pictorial chronicle of the Centralia, Pennsylvania, mine fire disaster in 1962, which led, decades later, to the destruction of the town. Includes interviews and historical background"--Provided by publisher.

Fire Underground

Author: David DeKok
Publisher: Globe Pequot Press
ISBN: 0762754273
Release Date: 2010
Genre: History

Centralia, Pennsylvania, lived and died by anthracite coal. The town's population peaked at 2,761 in 1890, but by 1981 had dwindled to just over 1,000 not unusual for a Pennsylvania mining town. But today Centralia has no more than a dozen inhabitants, and they are expected to be gone before long. The reason: an underground fire that has burned since 1962 in the labyrinth of abandoned coal mines beneath Centralia, making parts of the town uninhabitable.By 1981 the fire was sending deadly gases into homes, making children sick, and one day a twelve-year-old boy dropped into a steaming hole and almost died as a U.S. congressman toured nearby. David DeKok describes how the fire began and how the majority of Centralia residents fought for and finally obtained relocation from the town, even as some of their neighbors claimed there was no threat. He reveals what happened to the few remaining diehards as the fiftieth anniversary of the fire's beginning nears."

Unseen Danger

Author: David DeKok
ISBN: 0812212266
Release Date: 1986
Genre: Technology & Engineering

The true story of the Centralia mine fire; a government's indecisiveness and a town's struggle for survival.


Author: Deryl B. Johnson
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing
ISBN: 0738536296
Release Date: 2004
Genre: History

Centralia is the saga of a Pennsylvania community consumed by an underground mine fire. The town, founded in 1866, has often been embroiled in tragedy and controversy. Beginning with the infamous Molly Maguires, Centralia was confronted with the murder of its founder and an assault upon its Catholic priest, who cursed the town, saying, "One day this town will be erased from the face of the earth." Almost one hundred years later, a vein of coal that ran underneath the town caught fire and has burned since 1962. In the 1990s, the state of Pennsylvania declared eminent domain and forced most of the town's sixteen hundred residents to leave. Ten people remain in Centralia today. This book chronicles many of the images and stories from this fascinating and colorful Pennsylvania community.

The Day the Earth Caved In

Author: Joan Quigley
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 9781588366153
Release Date: 2007-04-03
Genre: Social Science

The Day the Earth Caved In is an unprecedented and riveting account of the nation’s worst mine fire, beginning on Valentine’s Day, 1981, when twelve-year-old Todd Domboski plunged through the earth in his grandmother’s backyard in Centralia, Pennsylvania. In astonishing detail, award-winning journalist Joan Quigley, the granddaughter of Centralia miners, ushers readers into the dramatic world of the underground blaze——from the media circus and back-room deal-making spawned in the wake of Todd’s sudden disappearance, to the inner lives of every day Centralians who fought a government that wouldn’t listen. Drawing on interviews with key participants and exclusive new research, Quigley paints unforgettable portraits of Centralia and its residents, from Tom Larkin, the short-order cook and ex-hippie who rallied the activists, to Helen Womer, a bank teller who galvanized the opposition, denying the fire’s existence even as toxic fumes invaded her home. Here, too, we see the failures of major political and government figures, from Centralia’s congressman, “Dapper” Dan Flood, a former actor who later resigned in the wake of corruption allegations, to James Watt, a former lawyer-lobbyist for the mining industry, who became President Reagan’s controversial interior secretary. Like Jonathan Harr’s A Civil Action, The Day the Earth Caved In is a seminal investigation of individual rights, corporate privilege, and governmental indifference to the powerless. Exposing facts in prose that reads like fiction, Quigley shows us what happens to a small community when disaster strikes, and what it means to call someplace home. Praise for The Day the Earth Caved In: "Her scene-by-scene narrative reads like fiction but inspires outrage in the muckraking tradition of Lincoln Steffens and Rachel Carson.” —The New York Times "[A]s a piece of explanatory journalism, The Day The Earth Caved In shines." —Washington Post Book World “It is quite a story.” —The Wall Street Journal “First rate research and journalism combing to tell a sad, often infuriating tale.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred) “ Quigley’s riveting account of the nation’s most devastating mine fire will change the way you think about so-called natural disasters, and the emotions we attach to the places we call home. This is an extraordinary book.” — Sean Wilentz, author of The Rise of American Democracy “Quigley’s tale is a real-life epic of brutally indifferent government, greedy corporations and the unlikely heroes who fight for their basic human rights. It's all here; made in America. You'll feel enraged to know the truth of what happened in our mountains and proud of your fellow Americans who took on Goliath." — John Passacantando, Executive Director, Greenpeace USA “If you can imagine a book that combines the gritty dignity of How Green Was My Valley with the muckraking of Silent Spring, then you have some sense of this deeply affecting work.” — Samuel G. Freedman, author of Upon This Rock “Joan Quigley, the granddaughter of coal miners, has combined meticulous reporting and personal passion to bring us this important book — one that illuminates an underground blaze that many corporate and government officials sought to smother and conceal.” — Gay Talese, author of A Writer’s Life From the Hardcover edition.

Death in the Mines

Author: J. Stuart Richards
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing
ISBN: 9781625844248
Release Date: 2007-02-28
Genre: Technology & Engineering

Since 1870, mining disasters have claimed the lives of over 30,000 men and boys who toiled underground in the anthracite mines of Pennsylvania. The constant threat of fire, explosion, collapsed rock and deadly gas brought miners face to face with death on a daily basis. Sometimes they survived; many times they did not. Through original journal and newspaper accounts, J. Stuart Richards’s Death in the Mines revisits Pennsylvania’s most notorious mining accidents and rescue attempts from 1869 to 1943. From the fire at Avondale Colliery that resulted in the first law for regulation and inspection of mines, to the gas explosion at Lytle Mine in Primrose that killed fourteen men, Richards reveals multiple facets of Pennsylvania’s most perilous profession. Richards, whose family has worked in the mines since 1870, offers a startling yet sensitive tribute to an industry and occupation that is often overlooked and underappreciated

The Hollow Ground

Author: Natalie S. Harnett
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 9781466839199
Release Date: 2014-05-13
Genre: Fiction

We walk on fire or air, so Daddy liked to say. Basement floors too hot to touch. Steaming green lawns in the dead of winter. Sinkholes, quick and sudden, plunging open at your feet. The underground mine fires ravaging Pennsylvania coal country have forced eleven-year-old Brigid Howley and her family to seek refuge with her estranged grandparents, the formidable Gram and the black lung stricken Gramp. Tragedy is no stranger to the Howleys, a proud Irish-American clan who takes strange pleasure in the "curse" laid upon them generations earlier by a priest who ran afoul of the Molly Maguires. The weight of this legacy rests heavily on a new generation, when Brigid, already struggling to keep her family together, makes a grisly discovery in a long-abandoned bootleg mine shaft. In the aftermath, decades-old secrets threaten to prove just as dangerous to the Howleys as the burning, hollow ground beneath their feet. Inspired by real-life events in Centralia and Carbondale, where devastating coal mine fires irrevocably changed the lives of residents, The Hollow Ground is an extraordinary debut with an atmospheric, voice-driven narrative and an indelible sense of place. Lovers of literary fiction will find in Harnett's young, determined protagonist a character as heartbreakingly captivating as any in contemporary literature.


Author: David Dekok
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 9780762787227
Release Date: 2011-02-01
Genre: History

The Epidemic tells the story of how a vain and reckless businessman became responsible for a typhoid epidemic in 1903 that devastated Cornell University and the surrounding town of Ithaca, New York. Eighty-two people died, including twenty-nine Cornell students. Protected by influential friends, William T. Morris faced no retribution for this outrage. His legacy was a corporation—first known as Associated Gas & Electric Co. and later as General Public Utilities Corp.—that bedeviled America for a century. The Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979 was its most notorious historical event, but hardly its only offense against the public interest. The Ithaca epidemic came at a time when engineers knew how to prevent typhoid outbreaks but physicians could not yet cure the disease. Both professions were helpless when it came to stopping a corporate executive who placed profit over the public health. Government was a concerned but helpless bystander. In this emotionally gripping book, David DeKok, a former award-winning investigative reporter and the author of widely praised books on the mine fire that devastated Centralia, Pennsylvania, brings this tragedy home by taking us into the lives of many of those most deeply affected. For modern-day readers acutely aware of the risk of a devastating global pandemic and of the dangers of unrestrained corporate power, The Epidemic provides a riveting look back at a heretofore little-known, frightening episode in America’s past that seems all too familiar.Written in the tradition of The Devil in the White City, it is an utterly compelling, thoroughly researched work of narrative history with an edge.

Lost Coal Country of Northeastern Pennsylvania

Author: Lorena Beniquez
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing
ISBN: 9781439661833
Release Date: 2017-08-15
Genre: Photography

Lost Coal Country of Northeastern Pennsylvania documents the region’s disappearing anthracite history, which shaped the legacy of the United States of America and the industrial revolution. The coal mines, breakers, coal miners’ homes, and railroads have all steadily disappeared. With only one coal breaker left in the entire state, it was time to record what would soon be lost. Unfortunately, one piece of history that persists is underground fires that ravage communities like Centralia. Blazing for over 50 years, the flames of Centralia will not be doused anytime soon. Images featured in the book include the St. Nicholas coal breaker, Huber coal breaker, Steamtown National Historic Site, Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour, Eckley Miners’ Village, Centralia, and the Knox Mine disaster. A hybrid history book and travel guide, Lost Coal Country of Northeastern Pennsylvania is one final recounting of what is gone and what still remains.

Centralia PA

Author: Andrew Shecktor
Publisher: Amazon
ISBN: 9781496155795
Release Date: 2014-03-15
Genre: Fiction

Moved by previous visits to the Centralia, and ultimately by a trip to the now deserted town, which was bought out by the state following an unstoppable mine fire that began in 1962, the author was inspired to write a fitting eulogy. The novel is a fictional accounting based on fact and metaphorically presents the mine owners and industrialists as Satanical manifestations in need of exorcism. It is a wonderful mix of period fact with fiction - there is much to learn while enjoying a fanciful journey through the author's imagination. Sample from the book: “More water! More water damn it! The fire is spreading!” From behind a fire pumper a soot covered black-faced fireman came running and shouting. “Around the other side! Quickly!” Three more fire fighters joined in, sweat pouring from their brows in the 83 degree heat, made many times hotter by the raging fire, dragging limp cloth hose toward the quickly spreading fire that was reaching out in anger from the pit. “Charge the line,” screamed a scrawny teenage fireman. The hose they were carrying quickly filled and whipped along like a disturbed snake. The fire, in the pit of an old abandoned strip mine near the Odd Fellows cemetery was started once or twice a year to burn excess municipal rubbish, but had never gotten out of control, as did this one. This fire was started on May 27 to clean up rubbish and municipal waste in preparation for the Memorial Day celebration, and was then extinguished by the fire department and was thought to have gone out. It had again re-kindled on May 29 and was put out late in the evening. It again re-kindled on June 12, though not as bad. Now it had re-kindled yet again, this time with a vengeance, as if set by Satan himself. None of the locals had ever seen such an inferno.

The West Side Carbondale Pennsylvania Mine Fire

Author: Kathleen Purcell Munley
ISBN: 1589662121
Release Date: 2011
Genre: History

In early 1947 residents of the west side of Carbondale, Pennsylvania began noticing a peculiar steam escaping from the ground. An investigation into this phenomenon revealed that Carbondale was slowly but steadily being destroyed by a burning inferno deep below its surface—a fire raging through the deserted anthracite coal mine shafts that twisted and turned beneath that part of the city. After several years of attempting to contain the fire by flushing, municipal leaders decided that the only sure way of eliminating the threat to the community was by digging it out. To eradicate the burning menace, hundreds of homes and buildings were purchased and destroyed, and what was once a vibrant neighborhood became an abandoned wasteland. Historian Kathleen Purcell Munley narrates here the story of this great fire, identifying its source, tracing its history, and, through personal interviews with former Carbondale residents, reveals its physical and psychological toll. The mine fire destroyed the West Side as it was, but this volume will keep its memory alive and preserve an important chapter in the history of Carbondale and Pennsylvania.

Murder in the Stacks

Author: David Dekok
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 9781493013890
Release Date: 2014-09-02
Genre: True Crime

On Nov. 28, 1969, Betsy Aardsma, a 22-year-old graduate student in English at Penn State, was stabbed to death in the stacks of Pattee Library at the university’s main campus in State College. For more than forty years, her murder went unsolved, though detectives with the Pennsylvania State Police and local citizens worked tirelessly to find her killer. The mystery was eventually solved—after the death of the murderer. This book will reveal the story behind what has been a scary mystery for generations of Penn State students and explain why the Pennsylvania State Police failed to bring her killer to justice.More than a simple true crime story, the book weaves together the events, culture, and attitudes of the late 1960s, memorializing Betsy Aardsma and her time and place in history.


Author: Richard A. Posner
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0195346394
Release Date: 2004-11-11
Genre: Science

Catastrophic risks are much greater than is commonly appreciated. Collision with an asteroid, runaway global warming, voraciously replicating nanomachines, a pandemic of gene-spliced smallpox launched by bioterrorists, and a world-ending accident in a high-energy particle accelerator, are among the possible extinction events that are sufficiently likely to warrant careful study. How should we respond to events that, for a variety of psychological and cultural reasons, we find it hard to wrap our minds around? Posner argues that realism about science and scientists, innovative applications of cost-benefit analysis, a scientifically literate legal profession, unprecedented international cooperation, and a pragmatic attitude toward civil liberties are among the keys to coping effectively with the catastrophic risks.

Who Killed Betsy

Author: Derek Sherwood
ISBN: 0615498116
Release Date: 2011-07
Genre: Murder

In 1969, a 22-year-old graduate student from Holland, Michigan, named Betsy Aardsma was murdered inside Penn State University's Pattee Library. The murder was never solved. The suspects included Ted Bundy, the Zodiac Killer, and others. It appears likely, though, that the killer was someone even stranger.