These days you can’t be too certain that the place you see on screen is real or not. It sure isn’t like the old days where enormous sets had to be constructed to portray a certain era or geographical area or where entire film crews had to travel to far off locations to shoot certain scenes. These days everything is easily accomplished by the use of CGI. It’s cheaper and more effective…but you just can’t get that realism a genuine location gives you.
Such was the case with the film Silent Hill, yes, CGI was used for the locations in the film but did you know that Silent Hill is actually a real place? Yes, sure, they mention that the town exists in the film but it’s a real live town, or at least, it was.
Centralia, Pennsylvania is the location of a formerly prosperous mining town and sounds innocent enough until you consider that most of the facts they tell you in Silent Hill about the ‘town’ Silent Hill are all in fact true.
Well, I can’t say much about monsters and crazy people, alternate dimensions or ghosts…but this much is fact, the town exists.
The town of Centralia had a troubled history, most notably, it all began in 1866 when the town’s founder was murdered by a secret society of activists named The Molly Maguires.
It didn’t stop there. Murder and arson ran rampant for most of the 1860’s until 1869 when Father Daniel Ignatius McDermott arrived. The first Roman Catholic Priest of the town…who was promptly assaulted by The Molly Maguires as an obstacle to their cause. Predominantly Irish, the Molly Maguires were supposed to be fighting for the rights of underpaid miners and were supposed to possess some manner of religion or ethical conduct.
Turns out they didn’t really have any morals to begin with and Father McDermott wasn’t having any of that.
Father McDermott promptly cursed the town and said that there would come a day far into the town’s future where unescapable misery would befall it. A time when the Catholic Church would be
the only structure left standing in Centralia. He outright called down damnation itself upon the town…and then faded into memory. In fact, today, the story of Father McDermott and his curse cannot be verified…but, as you will come to find, it’s not forgotten.
For the next century, the town history of Centralia flowed as you’d expect, phasing into the relatively boring and mundane. Everyday sort of problems for an everyday sort of town. That is… until 1962 when the town decided to clean their Landfill as had become yearly routine.
Several firefighters were to set a controlled fire and monitor it until it was to be extinguished. Not everything went to plan though and the fire made its way into the abandoned coal mines beneath the town, setting ablaze the wealth of coal deposits. (It is to be noted that there is an alternate legend that tells of a previous, much older fire from 1932, which was actually to blame for the fire in 1962…but this was never confirmed.)
Fear soon gripped the town as sinkholes seemed to open up randomly to swallow children, toxic gasses and smoke filled the air and it soon became apparent that the town had to be completely evacuated or risk outright destruction. Eventually, that’s exactly what happened and the town stands, even today, almost completely abandoned. While the air is breathable and some stubborn people do remain in the town, there are estimates that the fires beneath the town will burn for a further 300 years or more.
Rumours of Satanic cults and stories of otherworldly goings-on in and around Centralia remain persistent and very few people dare to venture to the town.
Eerily enough, most of the buildings in Centralia no longer exist or even remain standing… but the church, St. Mary’s, as promised by Father McDermott, still remains standing and still holds a weekly service as the only remaining Catholic Church in Centralia.