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In May 1962, a fire started at the dump in Centralia, Pennsylvania and lit an underground vein of coal.

The fire went mostly unnoticed until people started developing health problems in the 70s and one gas station owner discovered his underground tanks were being superheated by the fire. In 1981, a 12 year old boy nearly fell through the ground when a sinkhole developed in his backyard.

The government relocated most the town members and today the town is mostly—but not entirely—uninhabited. Estimates of how long the fire will burn are between 250 and 1000 years.


I do not blame the match that lit it
40 years on now it’s hard to even take a look around
But I’m sitting down

There’s hardly anyone remaining
Each one has taken that cracked and smoking road away from town
So I’m sitting down

And I’m asking you to stay
Though the fear of disappearing grows a little every day
The hollowed earth, the acrid clouds, the future burned away
Mistakes that smoulder underground
But I’m sitting down

I had a dream that I’d been walking
It looked like Northern California
The sky a brilliant blue. And everything so green
I finally felt free.
When I looked down my hands were smokin’
I threw hot stones into the ocean
I’d carried them for miles
Through mountains and ‘cross plains
Kept hot all the while
By fire in my veins

So post a sign for kids six feet and under
You cannot ride here. You are not tall enough to reach the ground
So I’m sitting down

And I will cough each time the smoke surrounds me
But I will not choke here. I’ll wait the thousand years ‘til it burns out
I’m sitting down

So don’t tell me that you care
When you’ve spent your life on nothing ‘cept pretending you’ve been spared
The horrible indignity of thinking life is fair
You’ll disappear without a sound
I’m sitting down


from Songs for the Forgotten Future Vol. 2, released August 8, 2008
Doug Stone—vocals and guitar
Robin Aigner—backing vocals
David Wechsler—piano and backing vocals
Gerald Menke—pedal steel guitar
Bob Hoffnar—pedal steel guitar
Ross Bonadonna—guitar
Dan Nosheny—tuba
Bill Gerstel—drums

Music and lyrics by David Wechsler


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