Maggie strikes gold again with a look at towns which have been decimated by single events. For me, the stories of Centralia, Pennsylvania and Lake Nyos in Cameroon are totally astounding; in the case of Lake Nyos, it’s equally astounding that there is currently more carbon dioxide dissolved in it than there was at the time of the disaster, and that even if current attempts to degas the lake are fully implemented, it will take three to five years to dissipate enough CO2 to make the lake safe.


there is currently more carbon dioxide dissolved in it than there was at the time of the disaster

The links don’t support that. They say the lake contains more carbon dioxide than was released previously, not more than they held previously.

• Posted by: Pete on Jul 11, 2002, 4:03 PM

My bad — that should teach me to do even moderately scientific reading when I’m just back from being on overnight call in the hospital!

• Posted by: Jason Levine on Jul 11, 2002, 11:18 PM

A friend and I visited Centralia in 1999. While it is easy to find the general area, road signs have been removed (one assumes to discourage the casual visitor). The main route through town is closed off, since the road isn’t safe; you can see it split open, venting gas in the images. No one was around to talk to us, even though there still were a few houses that looked occupied. That was it; the place is just barren landscape and giant vent pipes (rusted now, and filled with trash). And the cemetery.

• Posted by: G.A.C. on Jul 13, 2002, 12:07 AM

I want to make a snarky comment about how scientific reading is much too hard and you should stick to those life-or-death decisions you were making before you hopped on the train. But I can’t make it funny.

• Posted by: Dan Hartung on Jul 13, 2002, 5:40 AM

Looking for information on grandfather P. F. Burke
(Patrick), coal miner, and was listed on the 1880 US Census as living in Centralia (wife, Ann)and & 7 kids—dwelling #51, family #71. Can’t find any
additional info. Maybe buried there? Kids
born and/or baptised there? Kids: Maria, age 15;
Margaret, age 13; Catherine age 11; Elizabeth age 8; Thomas age 7; John age 4, James age 2.

• Posted by: srgerry on May 5, 2004, 9:02 PM
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