Centralia + Concrete City Road Trip

As promised during the group outing to the Abandoned Turnpike this past spring, I’m putting together a group road trip to Centralia and Concrete City this coming fall.  I really wanted to do something sooner, but there’s no way I wanted to risk having anyone succumb to heatstroke.  Besides, both places look 38% cooler in the fall anyway.

If you don’t already know, Centralia is a tiny town about an hour north of Harrisburg.  In the 1960s, a trash fire ignited a coal vein and started an underground mine fire that has been burning ever since.  During the winter months, the ground can be hot to the touch.  Smoke escapes from vents and cracks in the ground year-round.  Trees are bleached white and the entire valley reeks of sulfur.  A four-lane highway — PA Route 61 — was abandoned in the mid-90s after a land subsidence destroyed the road.  Several years ago I flew a Cessna 172 up there, and from the air the “town” is an eerie patchwork of long-abandoned paved streets.

Concrete City is, in a word, depressing.  It is a series of concrete homes built in 1911 for use by management of a Nanticoke coal mine.  And when I say “concrete homes”, I mean that they used poured-in-place concrete.  Not cinderblocks, not just concrete foundations, not just concrete shells, but the entire house — literally every square inch of every wall, floor, and ceiling — is cast-in-place concrete.  Local lore states that the city of Nanticoke tried to demolish the buildings for safety reasons, but generous use of TNT only succeeded in lightly damaging one building.  As such, they were deemed too expensive to demolish and left alone for nearly a century.

Both of these locations provide ample, unique photo opportunities for documenting severe urban decay and a tiny fragment of some of the more unusual history of Pennsylvania.  If nothing else, they both just look cool.

I don’t have an exact date yet, but I’m thinking it will be a Saturday in late September with an alternate date in early October.  As with the Turnpike Hike, both of these locations carry some risk of serious injury.  Concrete City itself is especially dangerous; those buildings haven’t seen maintenance in well over half a century, and a number of them are leaning badly.  Because of the nature of both of these places, this probably isn’t a good trip on which to bring small children.

Centralia is about an hour up I-81.  Concrete City is about another hour past that.  And the return trip is just over 90 minutes.  Driving will be about 85% Interstate, and we’ll obviously be carpooling.  The plan is to leave Harrisburg early in the morning, spend some time in Centralia, stop in Hazleton or Wilkes-Barre somewhere for lunch, visit Concrete City, and then head home.  This will be an all-day, 8-to-5-ish trip.

Further details as events warrant…

Harrisburg Hacked – Again

So the Harrisburg city council’s website was hacked.  I’m pretty sure this isn’t the first time this has happened, and it won’t be the last.  But what’s frustrating is that this can be solved at a cost of about $10 per year to city taxpayers, which is probably less than we’re paying for hosting right now.

First, being the IT Professional ™ that I am, I’m going to offer the city some complimentary advice on securing their website:

  • Stop using “lindasucksLOL” as your root password.  It’s really not that secure, though kudos for use on the mixed capitalization.  (IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR THE SARCASM-IMPAIRED AND/OR HARRISBURG MAYOR LINDA THOMPSON (MAYOR, HARRISBURG (MAYOR)):  I don’t really know the root password)
  • No matter how much she cries, no matter how much she begs — never, never give Mayor Thompson (Mayor (Harrisburg (Mayor))) the password after midnight.
  • For Christ’s sake stop replying to those emails from “legal@yourwebmaster dot com.ru”.  They aren’t really from your webmaster and you don’t really need to send him your password “or face account deleshon (sic)”!

In all seriousness, however, there is one option the city should consider.  And it would only cost taxpayers about three cents a day.

Continue reading Harrisburg Hacked – Again

A Midrise for Midtown

Today I stumbled across The 1500 Project, a future mixed-use residential and commercial five-story-plus-roof midrise going in at the corner of Sixth and Reily streets.  I’ve actually heard rumblings about the venture before, but I figured it would pretty much go the way of the hirise that was supposed to be built in front of the River Street garage (where Sawyer’s is now).  It looks like the project is moving ahead, with plans for 43 condos spread over four floors plus a loft level.

The building will occupy the entire block from 6th & Reily to 5th & Boyd.  Presently, this lot is vacant aside from a solitary duplex. It’s easily within walking distance of everything midtown has to offer, and its proximity to the forthcoming courthouse helps cement thoughts of further redevelopment in the area.  Underground parking will be available for residents.  It looks like the parking / storage area will empty onto Fifth Street (hooray!), which will help shunt some of the residents towards midtown.

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It’s not just you – things look a little different around here.  As of this morning, I have completely moved over to WordPress.com hosting with Google apps for everything on the back end.  The theme is going to update again as soon as I dig through some old photos, but I’m otherwise set.  In a nutshell, it’s hard to argue with $.83/month hosting.

$850 Million in the Hole

The last two weeks have seen a lot of cheering* and celebration* over the passing* of the 2010 Pennsylvania Budget.  This is good* news because unlike last year’s disaster, not a single state agency was forced to alter operations and not a single state employee was forced to work without pay.  Now that the budget is finally* in place*, we can go on with our lives* and enjoy things as they are for the next 11.5 months.

* – There’s a catch.

Continue reading $850 Million in the Hole