embroidered image of two trees surrounded by underbrush with grey smoke curls extending upwards on a vintage pillow case.

“There’re quite a few curious people,” he says. “Most people have never witnessed anything like Centralia — the heat and smoke rising out of the ground. Sometimes I feel like an exhibit. They’re amazed. They usually ask, ‘Why did you stay?’ My answer is simple: This is home.” – John Lokitis Jr.

In 1994 my dad and I took a day trip to Centralia, Pennsylvania. I was 12 and had never considered that the vast underground could catch fire and burn indefinitely. That trip began a life long obsession with mining, processing, and the marks it leaves on the land and people’s lives. It is an industry that creates entire towns and cities where people build homes and lives. When the mine empties, the power plant closes, or the accident happens those homes and lives that built the industry become collateral damage. They leave a quiet, faded but indelible mark on the landscape.