Centralia, Pennsylvania

Did you know that the fictional town of Silent Hill from the film adaptation of the popular video game series of the same name was inspired by a real place? Welcome to Centralia, Pennsylvania. Here, dangerous carbon monoxide gas spews from beneath the ground and land collapses, leaving eerie cracks in the ground.

The source of the smoke is a fire in the coal mine beneath the city, which was discovered in May 1962. It’s unclear how the fire started, but there are several popular theories. One is that a scheduled trash-burning in the local landfill spread to the mine in the absence of a fire-resistant clay wall, the construction of which had fallen severely behind schedule. Another is that someone had dumped hot ash in the landfill the day before the waste-burning. Some even speculate that its source is actually the inextinguishable Bast Colliery coal fire of 1932, which had spread to the landfill.

Regardless of its source, the fire is estimated to burn for another 150 to 950 years. As a result, the town was condemned by the State of Pennsylvania and residents were relocated as the government bought their homes. Today, only seven people live in Centralia, and have petitioned on multiple occasions for the repeal of the condemnation, claiming the air quality is the same as Lancaster and that the fire has moved away from the town. A popular conspiracy theory is that the government, when the last remaining residents have either moved or passed away, will begin mining the valuable coal beneath the borough.

Many relocated residents are expected to return in 2016 for the unearthing of a time capsule.

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Bannerman’s Arsenal, Pollepel Island, Hudson River

On the Hudson River is Pollepel Island, home of Bannerman’s Arsenal.

Built between 1901 and 1908, and designed by its owner and namesake Francis Bannerman VI, this castle once stored decommissioned weapons and surplus ammunition that Bannerman purchased following the Spanish-American War. He had hoped to turn the arsenal into a museum one day, but died in 1918 before such plans came to fruition.

Completely abandoned by the early 1960s, the estate was sold to the State of New York in 1967 and ravaged by a fire in 1969, leaving it in its current ruined state.

The Bannerman Castle Trust is currently attempting to stabilize and restore the crumbling castle.

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The Mojave Air and Spaceport

These are not the scenes of airplane crashes!

California is host to the Mojave Air and Spaceport, which functions as both an active airport and pilot training facility, but also a boneyard for retired airplanes which have been cannibalized for valuable parts to sustain newer models of like-aircraft. Materials that can no longer be used are left behind, presumably to erode in the desert for many years to come.

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Tate’s Hell National Forest

Tate’s Hell National Forest, near Carrabelle, Florida is home to 200,000+ acres of forest, dense scrub, and swampland.

It’s colorful name is said to come from a farmer named Cebe Tate, who in 1875 allegedly became lost in the swamp for a week. There he was bitten by a venomous snake and drank unclean water. When he finally emerged from the forest, his hair had turned completely white. After announcing his name and proclaiming he had just seen Hell, Cebe fell down dead.

Since then, the area has been referred to as Tate’s Hell.

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Sunland Hospital

Sunland Hospital, initially named W. T. Edwards Hospital in Tallahassee, FL. It was used as a tuberculosis quarantine until an antibiotic for the disease was discovered in the early sixties. From there, it was closed for several years and then reopened in 1967 as The Sunland Center at Tallahassee. The center endured massive under-funding, over-crowding, and scandal and was closed in 1983. It stood empty (and haunted?) until demolition in 2006 and now is the site of some nice apartments.

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