Ever heard of the “Graffiti Highway”? The Graffiti Highway started to be one of the most iconic parts of American Highway – until it was covered up in 2022. The Graffiti Highway was an abandoned portion of PA 61 south of Centralia that's now within later of soil. Had one been in the state a few years ago, it might happen to be one of the most unusual attractions, today still it has one of the most unusual stories.
Centralia may be the unfortunate former coal mining boomtown-turned-ghost town legendary for the massive deep underground Centralia coal mine fire. The Centralia coal mine fire is continuing to burn and it is excepted to burn for hundreds more years. The fire destroyed this of PA 61.
The Centralia Mine Fire And The Damaging From the Highway
The background for the Graffiti Highway was the Centralia mine fire. Centralia itself used to be a boomtown coal town that peaked having a population of 2,500 in 1890 and 14 miles. It entered decline within the 1920s and after a resurgence in WW2, collapsed in the 1950s.
- Population: Reached 2,500 in 1890
- Industry: Coal Mining
- Status: Ghost Town Due To The Collapse of The Coal Industry and also the Centralia Coal Mine Fire
An inextinguishable fire ignited in 1962 and burned with the 1960s, by the late 1970s was being a health hazard for the town. In 1980 a huge 150-foot hole opened up and some years later the remaining inhabitants were relocated. The homes were then demolished.
Today the Centralia fire is continuing to burn and it is likely to continue to do so for another 250 years.
The Centralia Mine Fire:
- Ignited: 1962
- Size: Burns At Depths as high as 300 Feet (90 m) over an 8-mile (13 km) Stretch of 3,700 acres (15 km2)
- Outlook: Could Burn For years and years
That fire chose to make this section of highway unsafe to travel on, the road was left severely opened up and buckled extensively. Initially, the street was repaired within the 1980s, but in the 1990s it was deemed too expensive to correct again. In response, this section of the highway was abandoned and bypassed.
From Abandoned To some Major Tourist Attraction
Over the years, the Graffiti Highway became a popular attraction for tourists seeking to begin to see the graffiti for themselves or perhaps leave their own mark. It was a work of art that rather clashed using the Pennsylvania countryside.
In time after it had been left abandoned, it was used by pedestrians and bicyclists. Through the years it became a rich mosaic of graffiti.
- “Graffiti Highway”: The Closed Section of The Bypassed Highway PA 61 Covered in Graffiti
- Length: 0.74 Miles
- Abandoned: In 1993
- Cause: Severe Opening And Buckling From The Centralia Mine Fire
One may find a variety of graffiti on the highway, everything pineapple-carapaced turtles to less-than-family-friendly fare (typically male organs). Locals in 2022 even claimed it was the sixth favorite attraction in Pennsylvania.
Even its warped surface was a place of interest – it even served as an inspiration for horror fans and gamers in search of one of the inspirations behind Silent Hill (the 2006 movie based on the gaming). Others included photographers, skaters, bikers, local partygoers, and even ghost hunters.
The Pandemic and also the Covering Over of The Graffiti Highway
As the highway's popularity grew, some of the remaining locals complained and stated that some of the graffiti was creeping from the highway and was being seen in cemeteries and other places. They called for increased patrols.
In 2022, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation vacated ownership from the closed portion of PA 61 that then reverted to adjacent home owners.
While there had always been intends to destroy the highway, the final straw came with the outbreak of the pandemic when individuals started frequenting the highway during Pennsylvania's pandemic lockdown. It had been reported that individuals were coming from as far away as Ny and Nj and through the lockdown, Pennsylvania didn't someone to encourage people in the future from outside the state.
On March 22, local news outlets reported a sizable bonfire gathering. The brand new owners (a mining company called Pangotti) got tired of the complaints and also the liability.
Measures were then come to restrict public access and to cover it up with dirt in April 2022. Today the graffiti highway is buried within layer of dirt. Perhaps the graffiti enthusiasts will move ahead and find another stretch of abandoned highway in Pennsylvania. In the end, there are a number of abandoned tunnels and segments of highways like the famous Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Alternatively, if your are out West, browse the “last free put on earth” of Slap City in California. It's another world entirely.