Pennsylvania has always contributed greatly to the United States economy. Particularly during the more industrialized 18th and 19th centuries, its location in the rust belt led to its dominance as an economic superpower. Coal, iron, timber: we had it all. As these resources dwindled in certain areas, so did the residents of those areas… And today, our state has numerous ghost towns to call our own, many of which were once coal towns.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Cold Spring Township
As the first destination on our list, Cold Spring will ease you into desolation slowly. The town is not a ghost town— it's not even entirely abandoned. At the 2000 census, the township had 49 residents. Yet, it earns a spot on our list because of its completely nonexistent local government. The township hasn't had any elected officials since 1961, when people just lost interest in running, and today it has no zoning commission, no budget, no police chief... You get the idea. The majority of the township is state gamelands, although there is one road and a cluster of houses.
2. Hopewell Furnace in French Creek State Park
As a National Historic Site, Hopewell Furnace is uniquely preserved and a fantastic place to learn about local history. The site was an "iron planation" in the 19th century. Its 14 buildings include a blast furnace, the ironmaster's house, workers' homes, a general store, and more.
3. Yellow Springs
Very little remains to be seen at Yellow Springs, which has been abandoned since before the Great Depression. It is one of a group of villages located in Stony Valley, north of Harrisburg, all of which were abandoned around the same time. They were established as coal towns, but the quality of the coal in the area was poor; it was also unsustainable for farming, timber, and railroads. Today if you visit Yellow Springs, you can see foundations of old buildings, cellars, and stone smokestacks.
4. Fall Brook
Fall Brook was established in 1860 by the Fallbrook Coal Company. Once the coal was mined from the area, the town's residents left, and it became a ghost town by 1900. The most prominent remaining feature of the town is the cemetery, which is eerie in its desolation.
A sign that stands at Landrus will tell you almost everything you need to know:
"LANDRUS 1880 - 1914
Home of the first electrified mine in the world and in it's heyday, it had:
1 company store, 1 post office, 1 school, 2 churches, 1 sawmill and 62 homes.
Peaked in 1899." Located near Arnot, Landrus was originally founded as a timber town before it became a mining town. Then, of course, it became a ghost town.
Not very much is known about Tartown, of which very little remains. It is located adjacent to the Waynesboro Reservoir in Adams County. Rumors indicate that the name might derive from local production of pine tar. If you have any information about Tartown, please share in the comments!
Andrew Carnegie was a big part of the history of Scotia. Though small-scale mining had occurred there since the late 18th century, he came into the area to organize a large-scale mining operation in 1880. The village was abandoned by 1923, and today it can be found in Pennsylvania State Game Lands #176.
According to Wikipedia, the only remaining standing structures in Byrnesville are a religious shrine, a storage trailer, and a vacant garage. The village was abandoned between 1985 and the 1990s due to the nearby underground coal mine fire in Centralia. The fire caused the ground here to become unstable, and released noxious fumes into the air; relocation assistance was offered to residents of Byrnesville at the same time that it was offered to the residents of Centralia. Byrnesville has all of the same problems, with none of the glory. Shame.
9. Curtin Village
Curtin Village is also known as Eagle Ironworks and is designated as a national historic district. The area consists of 18 buildings and three other structures. Abandoned things that you will see here include the owner's mansion, a grist mill, worker's houses, a furnace stack, and more.
10. Port Kennedy
If you've ever been to Valley Forge, you might have heard of or visited Port Kennedy. It was once an industrial village, and in 1967 most of it was destroyed to make way for the Betzwood Bridge and U.S. Route 422. Pictured above is a mansion that overlooks what was once Port Kennedy.
11. The Ghost Town Trail in Indiana County
If you think that these ghosts towns are fascinating, and you won't be able to rest until you see some for yourself, you should think about hiking the Ghost Town Trail, which stretches from Black Lick to Ebensburg. The 36-mile long trail passes through a few former coal mining towns which were abandoned in the early 1900s. If you stick with the entire trail, you'll pass through Bracken, Armerford, Lackawanna No. 3, Wehrum, Scott Glenn, Webster, Beulah, and Claghorn, as well as numerous old coal mines and various abandoned infrastructure.
Ever been to any of these places? Cool stories to share? Do you know anything about Tartown? Do you have any other ghost towns to add? Share all of your thoughts in the comment section!