This is the name of the town that the Silent Hill town was based on.
Since the first Silent Hill game back in 1999, fans have wondered if the title town had a real-life counterpart. Is there a particular town that inspired the haunted wasteland we've come to know and fear in the games? There have been many speculations, and now here's a place you can actually visit... for REAL...
In researching the different elements of Silent Hill, screenwriter Roger Avary (Killing Zoe, The Rules of Attraction) came across the town of Centralia, Pennsylvania (it's interesting that LA moviemakers look to the deep Midwest [or in this case, the eastern U.S. in Pennsylvania] when they're looking for something "strange" or "different"). Centralia planted the seed for what developed into the cinematic version of the town of Silent Hill.
As recently as 1981, there were over 1,000 residents living in Centralia, although the population has now dwindled to 11 (we'll say that again: 11 people) as a result of a 40-year mine fire burning beneath the borough (we'll say that again: it's been burning for 40 years... underneath the town). This is certainly not unlike Silent Hill, which was left deserted since devastating coal fires ravaged the town and its people.
The inferno started when a trash fire was lit in an abandoned mine pit in Centralia in 1962. The fire ignited an exposed vein of coal and spread throughout the mines beneath the borough. Several attempts have been made and millions of dollars have been spent unsuccessfully to extinguish this fire that still burns today.
The "problem" wasn't really acknowledged until a series of accidents in the '70s and '80s, including the appearances of sinkholes hundreds of feet deep. In 1984, Congress allocated more than $40 million for relocation efforts, and most residents moved to nearby Mount Carmel and Ashland.
However, a very few families opted to stay, and they're still there, despite the fact that the state of Pennsylvania has condemned all the buildings in the borough and the US Postal Service has revoked its zip code of 17927. The 11 holdouts include the town's 89-year-old mayor, Lamar Mervine, who refuses to leave because "I like it here."
You can find more information on Centralia, Pennsylvania here. Or perhaps one day you will heed its call and find yourself exploring its deserted streets... Well, almost deserted. Source: Underground Online and Sony Pictures
Centralia - Columbia County, Pennsylvania - The fire was started in a garbage dump over an open coal seam in May of 1962. The fire was reported and seemed to be quenched at the time, but actually continued underground. There are many additional versions of the original cause but the garbage pit and the date are probably right. First bid to extinguish the fire was $175.
In July of 1962, the Department of Environmental Resources started to monitor the fire. Boreholes were drilled to check to extent and the temperature of the fire. Some thought they also provided an natural draft which helped combustion. Gas monitors were also installed in most homes in the area above the hottest fire (the impact area).
On May 22, 1969 the first three families were moved from Centralia. A trench was dug north of the Odd Fellows Cemetery where fly ash and clay seals were used in am attempt to put out the fire. According to Tony Gaughan (quoted in "Slow Burn"), if the trench had been dug in three shifts per day instead of one and if they had worked through the Labor Day holiday, the fire would have been contained. He said the project was $50,000 short of completion.
In 1980, the U.S. Bureau of Mines "Red Book" said, "The Centralia mine fire has not been extinguished and has not been controlled." In the year twenty-seven more families were moved at a price that was comparatively less than later buy-outs.
On February 14, 1981, the ground collapsed under Todd Domboski. A hole about 4 feet in diameter and roughly 150 feet deep had opened under him. He clung to exposed tree roots and was pulled to safety by his cousin. The heat or the carbon monoxide in the breach would have been sufficient to kill him instantly if he had gone just a little deeper. This incident provoked the first national media attention.
By 1983, the government said the fire was advancing on three or four fronts. Proposed trenching of the area might cost as much as $660 million with no guarantee of success. One of the larger trenches would have bisected the town roughly from east to west. A government buy-out was proposed instead of the trenching and there was a referendum held. The homeowners voted to accept the buy-out 345 to 200. Only those whose names were on the deeds could vote. From 1962 to 1984, $7 million had been spent. In November of 1983, $42 million was voted for the buy-out.
The movie was inspired by this town, not necessarily the games. It'd be interesting to visit, though from my understanding there's actually not a whole lot left there in terms of buildings and there's all that.. lovely carbon monoxide to keep in mind.
Alternatively, I think it'd be really badass to visit the abandoned Hashima Island.
I'm from the general area and have seen a little of it. There's practically nothing left there as the state demolished most of the buildings. The vibe is post-apocalyptic rather than Silent Hill, though there is an amusement park, Knoebel's, about two miles away in Elysburg.
It'd be a fun town to visit, but it's really not safe. I heard that the last few remaining people there were actually evacuated not too long ago, but I don't have any proof for that so it might just be hearsay. I did read an article in '09 though that stated that the USPS dropped their zip code so they no longer receive any mail if in fact they do still remain. Like everyone else has said, there's more interesting ghost towns out there and considering that this one is actually physically dangerous you shouldn't really set your hopes too high.
Off topic, but I'm reminded of when I used to post my photography on the old forum. My grandmother lives in Centralia, Washington which is an old sleeper town but not quite abandoned or toxic. I took some photos while I was there and posted them and I was really specific about saying "WA", but for some reason some confusion still arose and I was accused of lying. haha Next time I'll post pictures from the neighboring Portland, Maine.
BULLWORTHLESS wrote:The movie was inspired by this town, not necessarily the games. It'd be interesting to visit, though from my understanding there's actually not a whole lot left there in terms of buildings and there's all that.. lovely carbon monoxide to keep in mind.
Alternatively, I think it'd be really badass to visit the abandoned Hashima Island.
Yes, the movie was inspired by Centralia. The game itself was inspired by several things... such as Jacob's Ladder, Alice in Wonderland, Twin Peaks, and at the time, some said the Resident Evil games.... among several other things.
Still though... I wanna go someday to Centralia and check the place out... but I'm not gonna go without my trusty shotgun.
It's odd how they managed to create a town based off of a California city, and yet it has so many similarities to an eastern town(huge sinkholes, odd smoke, a kid who's name is Domboski). It's the official position that this town had nothing to do with the game, but after hearing about the Domboski kid, I have to cry bullshit. I know they used the look of San Bruno, and they say they came up with the rest on their own. Still I can't help but suspect they are not being totally honest. The rest would be staggering coincidence. And coincidence usually leads to connections. Why would they lie? All the serious legal crap going on in that town, I would not want to be caught dead creating anything based off of it or it's inhabitants. I know it's not official canon, but that doesn't stop it from being true. Plus I love how mad everyone gets when this town comes up.
Truthfully though, if you have an oppurtunity to go there, DON'T! It's dangerous, both immediately and long term from inhaling toxins. Places like that are abandoned for a reason, and it doesnt look like Silent Hill anyway. There's almost no town left.
I think the Domboski/Dombrowski thing is a coincidence. To what sink holes are you referring? The town abruptly cuts off into nothingness in places, but that's hardly a "hole." The fog isn't smoke and it's theoretically coming from the lake, which is a pretty typical thing for fog to do, actually. As far as environment goes, it's been placed in Maine according to Downpour, so yeah, it should have eastern geography. None of that points to Centralia to me, though. Without the film, I doubt people would be making this connection.
Brispir wrote:Still though... I wanna go someday to Centralia and check the place out... but I'm not gonna go without my trusty shotgun.
Indeed same here, my shotgun is field tested and has never failed. I had the opportunity to go but I'd have had to found a way up there to meet up with a friend who would have took me on a tour of the place. Seeing as I'm not medically cleared to get a driver's license, I couldn't afford a plane ticket, couldn't hitch a ride, or walk the near 1300 miles it was another brass ring just out of my reach. There are several abandoned places near where I live but most of the properties are either well guarded by police or security, or they are defended with extreme force. I'll make the trips some day.
I live pretty close, and I don't really feel the need. There are closer ghosttowns for most people to visit, if they feel the need to do so. I think people exaggerate the connection. Yes, the people involved with the film probably took ideas from the place, but they could just have easily chosen another town with a similar history. They took the idea of a ghost town with mines and stuff from it. I don't see why that makes the town worth visiting. I've seen plenty of places with a superficial resemblance to silent hill.
And the book and the movie The Exorcist were based on a story from St. Louis that had noone spitting green pea soup or turning into a crab and charging down the steps. Just because things are not precisely the same doesnt mean they are not an inspiration. I'm really not so sure why people are so closed off to the possibility just because most people hadn't heard of it before the movie. Aside from looks, San Bruno is nothing like Silent Hill, but is so easy to accept. Despite there being a hundred North American towns that look that way. So sinkhole or void, you still fall to your death, smoke or fog, still hard to see. Not the same, but has similarities. I just dont see how people can be so dismissive of a town that has pitfall hazards, smoke everywhere, a kid with a similar name, an amusement park nearby, and a cult that was accused of a few murders nearby. Not that it means that it was ever a factor, I am just annoyed by how dismissive people are of the possibility. Because everyone knows that anything Konami related is just oozing with trust and integrity. The only thing that annoys a Silent Hill fan more than each others opinions is how shady Konami can be.
I would say visit Lenzburg, IL for a Silent Hill type experience. No fog, no lake, but plenty of distorted figures that may kill you. Not demons of course, just meth heads. But in the real world, there is no true Silent Hill. Beggars can't be chosers.
The fact of the matter is Silent Hill is a town based on many different places across America, this is proven by how many real-life businesses from California to Illinois to Texas to even near my current residence in Florida (to be exact the sign for Bett's Big T Grill & Service which is located outside of Chiefland, Florida is featured on Bachman Road in the resort area of the first game), why would they have included those if one town was the whole of the influence? We know that Centralia was one of the basis for the movie version of Silent Hill but the game is left ambiguous as not one location even if identified as canon fits the geography of the town (not to mention possible locations only found in movies that inspired the series), it's like movies, you have a mix of studio-built sets and some real-life locations mixed in but with no conclusive proof to one exact location outside the game world, most fans seem reluctant to accept that they aren't supposed to know everything about one given game and are given certain pieces of info only to shut and stop bothering the team about it which still seems to take place to this day.
I'll give you a good example of this, it's been mentioned many times that the canon location for Silent Hill is in Maine, well in reality this is impossible as there is no coal mining in Maine as there are little to no coal reserves in the state and yet Silent Hill was once a coal mining town, the same goes for California which also has no history of coal mining due to minimal coal reserves, and before anyone harps on about the film coal mining was introduced to the town before that film came out just read the translated version of the book of lost memories. Another major factor is people forget Silent Hill is a work-in-progress as far as a series go, nothing is truly set in stone as someone who takes the reigns may want to revisit and revise other things talked about in the past, this is why if you want a better grasp on the whole thing you may need to rely on your unfettered interpretations and then break them down with a sense of logic and see if they match up when everything is finally (if ever) explained if Konami ever decides to give the series it's final chapter, just remember it's your opinion even if it's based on the comments of what Konami gives the fans as that could be changed at anytime, no one is fully right on the truth behind Silent Hill but no one is fully wrong either.
Before I go since I brought up the Maine thing and how it doesn't fit Silent Hill, I'll provide some links to some of the places I got the info from:
what wrote:It's either impossible, or it's a point of absolutely marginal significance the writers did not bother checking.
There's plenty of evidence pointing towards the state (and it is certainly a New England town) for that inconsistency to be irrelevant.
I certainly think it's New England given past evidence and it's history and geography, plus there are states in that region with coal mines such as Rhode Island and Massachusetts, but when someone cites the town as the location is it really something that was set in stone long before or something just to keep the fans of their backs who hound them for answers until they are ready to address it when or if they want to? We simply don't know yet, I'm not going to rule out Maine altogether yet as I don't know either and it could be revealed later on it was set in stone early in the series' production (it's fiction after all and mistakes like this happen), I brought it up because a lot of fans seem to be sure of themselves as to what the truth is behind the scenes and until it's fully established it's all still somewhat speculation.
I don't trust any piece of info 100% myself even the book of lost memories which I listed as when you have a work in progress like this certain details could be changed or expanded on which has sent a lot of fans over the edge (they could write in that the mine was a fabrication for the cults' activity for instance later on or they could reveal that the real endings were the UFO ones and were fooling us with those others, or heck Silent Hill has really been taking place in the head of Stephen King while making a sandwich), in truth we could be putting to much thought in what might turn out to be a David Lynch/Stephen King spoof and are unaware we as players were being made fun of the whole time with over-the-top theories and ideas while the developers laugh as they sit in a large Jacuzzi drinking martinis lighting cigars with dollar bills , it's simply still too early to tell in general what is really going on.
I believe Downpour pretty much places the game in Maine; the prison bus has a Maine license plate & the highway passes through the state. Also, Harry flees to Portland, and since Silent Hill is for sure a New England town, I believe we can rule out Portland, OR. Heather and Douglas seem to make it to Silent Hill within the night, and Heather was initially going to walk there so I don't think they were extremely far from the town either.
@ hairymason: The Mist, a cited influence on the creators, features a town completely shrouded in an impenetrable mist with monsters lurking around ( including one resembling a pterodactyl ) and also features a religious extremist woman who insists on human sacrifice. Like Perry Mason said, you can't just pin everything down to one source. Centralia was certainly the main source of inspiration for the film, but I just don't have any real reason to believe it had anything to do with the games since it wasn't mentioned pretty much at all prior to the film.