Visiting the Real Silent Hill
The population of the town has dwindled from over 1,000 residents in 1981 to 9 in 2007, as a result of a 47-year-old mine fire burning beneath the borough.
In 1962, an exposed vein of coal ignited, possibly due to the burning of garbage at the borough landfill. Attempts to extinguish the fire were unsuccessful; the fire is still burning and will continue to do so for the indefinite future. Adverse health effects were reported by several people due to the carbon monoxide produced.
In 1984, Congress allocated more than $42 million for relocation efforts. Most of the residents accepted buyout offers and moved. Today a handful of occupied homes remain in Centralia. Most of the buildings have been razed, and at casual glance the area now appears to be a meadow with several paved streets through it, and some areas are being filled with new-growth forest.
Route 61 had to be moved after the underground fires ruined the road. It's been taken over by teens who have re-named it Graphity Highway. The road is now host to lots of naughty drawings. If you know anything about the movie or video game, then you understand the significance of the sirens. While we were walking on the road, the sirens went off! It was too surreal because we had been talking and joking about the monsters all day. We were a half a mile or so from the entrance, so there was no running to the car.
The local cemeteries are still maintained as well as they can, but the rolling of the land has knocked down many of the stones. The town had a large population of Russians and the headstones clearly show their influence.
In researching the different elements of Silent Hill, screen writer Roger Avary was inspired when he heard of Centralia, Pennsylvania, and decided to base the film on it.