The Hottest Town in America

For nearly 20 years it has been burning—and fuming On the surface, at least, Centralia looks much like dozens of neighboring towns in the hard-coal country of eastern Pennsylvania. A casual traveler topping the hill where Route 61 swings up from the south can take in the entire community at a glance, from St. Ignatius' Catholic church at one end of town, past the wooden row houses and empty storefronts in the center, to onion-domed St. Mary's Russian Orthodox church at the other. But a more careful look reveals something else: acrid-smelling steam coming from the ground. Centralia sits on a...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!