Visit These 7 Haunting Towns in Pennsylvania at Your Own Risk


Pennsylvania is a historically, culturally, and naturally beautiful state. The numerous deserted villages that dot its terrain, however, attest to its darker underbelly. Once flourishing communities, these areas have been abandoned due to environmental catastrophes, fires, flooding, or economic decline, among other causes. Certain deserted towns remain inaccessible to inquisitive and daring individuals, whereas others have been reclaimed by the natural world or are otherwise inaccessible.

Here are seven of Pennsylvania’s most eerie derelict communities that you are advised to visit at your peril.

1. Centralia

Centralia is Pennsylvania’s most well-known ghost town, and for good reason. It’s been burning since 1962 when a fire set a coal seam under the town on fire. Since then, the fire has been slowly spreading, making poisonous gases, sinkholes, and cracks in the ground.

In the 1980s, most of the people who lived in the town left because the government said it was dangerous for their health and offered to buy their homes. Today, only a few stubborn people are left, living in a wasteland of empty buildings, roads covered in graffiti, and eerie quiet. Some people still sneak into Centralia to see what’s left of this doomed town, even though it’s not supposed to be open to the public.

2. Pithole

During the oil rush of the 1860s, Pithole was a boomtown that went up and down quickly. After oil was found nearby in 1865, it was formed and quickly became a place where thousands of people came to try to make money and become famous. Pithole had hotels, churches, theaters, newspapers, and even the first oil pipeline in the world, just like a modern city would. But both the oil and the people ran out very quickly.

By 1870, the Pithole was almost empty, and by 1890, it was empty. Pithole is now a historical spot where people can see the old streets and building foundations as well as a museum that tells the story of this short-lived town.

3. Eckley

Eckley used to be a coal mining town. It was built in the 1850s so that miners and their families could live there. It was like any other company town: the workers had to rent their homes, buy their goods, and go to work for the company that owned the mines. There was also a lot of labor trouble in Eckley. Miners often fought with the company and the government over pay, working conditions, and civil rights.

Some of the Molly Maguires’ actions took place in Eckley. The Molly Maguires were a secret group of Irish immigrants who fought against the unfair treatment of workers in the coal business. Eckley is now a live museum where people can see the buildings that have been fixed up, the mining tools, and the clothes that the locals wore.

4. French Azium

French Azilum was a safe place for aristocrats to go after the French Revolution in the late 1700s. In 1793, a group of French refugees who wanted to start a new life in America built it on a bend in the Susquehanna River. The village had about 50 cabins, a church, a school, and a big house that was said to be for Queen Marie Antoinette of France, but she never made it there.

In 1803, when things got better in France politically, most of the settlers left French Azilum and went back to their home country. The old houses, the museum, and the beautiful views of the river can all be seen at French Azilum today, which is a historical place.

5. The Lock on Frick

Frick’s Lock is a dead town that the nuclear age left behind. It was built in the early 1800s along the Schuylkill Canal and was a successful place for farming and milling. It got its name from John Frick, who owned a lock and a pub in the area.

In the 1970s, Frick’s Lock was abandoned because the town became dangerous and unattractive after the Limerick Nuclear Power Plant was built. After being named a historical district, the town was closed to the public for many years. Only recently, was it opened for organized trips. In Frick’s Lock, people can now see the old homes, the church, the school, and the graveyard.

6. Scotia

Scotia is now a dead town, but it used to be a mining town that helped the iron and steel businesses. That was in the 1860s, close to State College. It was named for the Scottish workers who came to work there. It had a furnace, a train, several mines, and a town where the workers and their families lived.

In the 1920s, Scotia was left empty after the mines were closed and the furnace was turned off. The land was sold to the state and is now part of the State Game Lands. A lot of people now like to hike, hunt, and look at the ruins of the mines, furnaces, and towns in Scotia.

7. Yellow Dog

In the Allegheny National Forest, Yellow Dog is now a dead town that used to be home to a group of lumberjacks. This town was created in the late 1800s and named after a golden stream in the area. Yellow Dog had a factory, a railroad, and a town where the loggers and their families lived.

In the 1930s, Yellow Dog was left behind because the trees were all cut down and a fire burned the sawmill. The land was bought by the federal government and added to the U.S. National Park. Yellow Dog is now a quiet and out-of-the-way place where people can see what’s left of the town, the train, and the sawmill.


Pennsylvania’s empty landscapes are haunted by the sounds of abandoned towns, each with its own story of falling apart. From Centralia, which is always on fire, to Pithole, which was briefly wealthy during the oil rush of the 1860s, these dead towns tell stories of economic booms, environmental disasters, and problems in society. These strange relics of Pennsylvania’s past are kept alive in historical sites, live museums, and National Parks, where curious tourists are welcome to explore them.

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