Byrnesville in Ashland, Pennsylvania

Byrnesville, Pennsylvania was a village between the towns of Centralia and Ashland. In 1856 a handful of Irish Catholic families settled in Byrnesville, and were employed in the local coal mining industry. Many of these families remained in the village for generations.

In 1962, the coal veins beneath the neighboring town of Centralia caught fire, likely due to a routine burning of the town’s local dump igniting the coal fire. Initially, the fire didn’t seem to have much impact on Centralia or Byrnesville. But by the 1980s, there were signs of trouble from the fire. Sinkholes started appearing and toxic gases arose from underground.

The village was abandoned and razed in 1996. All that remains is the ruins of an old garage, as well as a roadside shrine that is still maintained by the Reilley family, who had resided in the village. The shrine and ruins are visible from Pennsylvania Route 61 between Centralia and Ashland.

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