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Centralia, Pennsylvania - The Ghost Town Which Inspired Silent Hill

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Published November 4th 2012


When you hear the name Silent Hill, you immediately think of a demonic town, plagued full of hellish beings ready to drag you into the pits of its abyss.



What if I was to tell you that Konami's chilling series was in fact based upon an actual place in the world.

Meet Centralia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A .



What was once a happy mining town back in the 1800's to the late 1970's, is now a ghost town consisting of only 10 residents and the rest home to a lifeless silence.



You're probably wondering what happened to this place? What caused everyone to leave? And how does it have a connection to Silent Hill? Maybe it really is plagued by a demonic world, that's why no-one chooses to live there? Calm down it isn't, but it does hold a shocking town revelation.

Back in the 1960's, aliens came down from outer space and abducted everyone. The M.I.B conducted numerous investigations, but were unable to trace any evidence that could lead them to the whereabouts of the town citizens or their intergalactic kidnappers. One of the hostages is said to be the star of the Silent Hill series, Harry Mason.

I'm kidding, but Harry did get kidnapped by intergalactic beings. The image below is a segment of the U.F.O ending, included in Silent Hill's multiple endings.



Here's the real reason.


Back in the 1800's, Centralia was a major coal mining town with over a thousand residents, until the 1960's, when most of the coal mining companies began to go out of business.

In 1962, five volunteer fire fighters were hired to clean up a land fill located in one of the abandoned mine pits. Upon cleaning the pit, they set the dump on fire and let it burn for some time, as most landfills are distinguished using this procedure. Unaware that they had not fully extinguished the fire, the fire entered an unsealed opening under the mine pit and ignited the abandoned underground coal mines.

Although this is only one of many stories of how the fire started, all stories lead to the same ultimatum of a fire starting underneath Centralia, causing the entire city to become a hazardous zone.

It wasn't until 1979 that people began to suspect their precious home was becoming more dangerous, when gas station owner and future mayor of Centralia, John Coddington, measured his underground fuel tank levels, which peaked at an overloading temperature of 172℉.

In 1981, 12 year Todd Domboski fell into a sink hole that was breathing hot lethal carbon monoxide, which opened up under his feet. He was rescued by his 14 year old cousin. Todd's story was enough to satisfy residents that Centralia was growing even more unstable and living within the town was a risk.

As the years went by, citizens of the town relocated causing the number in population to drop rapidly. By 1990 once a population of over a thousand was now 63 eventually dropping to 10 by 2010.

So now that you know what happened to the town, you're probably wondering how Silent Hill comes into the picture?



There are numerous cross references the game has with the town, closely relating to its mining and town elements.

Fog
The fog effect in the game represents that constant carbon monoxide gas that keeps spewing up from underneath, creating the smokey poisonous atmosphere in Centralia. It is also said in the Silent Hill series the air in the town is meant to be poisonous.





Town
The empty foggy town of Centralia, which had general stores, elementary schools, post office's and other stores, represent the town Silent Hill.



Road Blocks
The constant road blocks that you witness in the game when you reach a caved in dead end, represent the unexpected route blocks that are distributed outside of Centralia, which are put their as part of a safety procedure leaving only one road available to enter Centralia. This is also another element that is displayed in the movie and games.



Soundtrack
If you listen closely to Silent Hills gameplay soundtrack you notice an industrial like soundtrack of gears turning or mining works in progress. This is influenced by Centralia's mining side shown particularly in the first game and the movie.

Secret Society
The secret society within Silent Hill, represent the Molly McGuire's, a secret society consisting of Irish only, that use to coincide within the town during the 1800's. They were known for kidnapping people and their criminal activities within Centralia.





Alternate World
The alternate world is a combination of the underground mine and fire however, flipping it top side to create a hellish world. Centralia's industrial elements were a big influence in creating the world such as the metal platforms, cages, turning of valves puzzles, as well as weapons such as the rock drill and the long hammer from SH1.

The Great Fire of Silent Hill
The Great Fire that supposedly roasted the whole town making it uninhabited, represents the underground mine fire and how the town people had to flee from Centralia.



To this day Centralia is still considered a hazard zone breathing out dangerous carbon monoxide gases. Several warning signs are distributed among the outer parts of the town warning outsiders to enter at own risk. As for the fires, they're still burning and causing the ground to be unstable - making it extremely dangerous for people to enter and further explore the town.



Screen Captures courtesy of:
Garrett Rhodes: "Footage from the real Silent Hill" Centralia, PA
Eyeries1: The Sons of Molly Maguire, by The Irish Balladeers
Stevenbogda: The Real Silent Hill: Centralia, PA - October 2009
Prep 2 Prosper: The REAL Silent Hill (Centralia, PA)
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Why? Know the town that inspired Konami's Silent Hill series
Where: Centralia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A
Your Comment
Can you explore the town today?
by ZStaf (score: 0|2) 1722 days ago
Konami did NOT base the Silent Hill games off of the town of Centralia, PA.

The only thing this town has to do with Silent Hill is the first FILM using it as inspiration for the mine fires in the town in the film.
by barbe (score: 0|2) 1596 days ago
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