Centralia was once a booming mining town in Columbia County, but now officials say there are fewer than ten people living in the borough after an underground fire started in 1962.
Over the weekend we learned part of Centralia's history was vandalized, and may have been stolen. In 1966, Centralia residents buried a time capsule to be opened in 2016. Over the weekend, members of the Centralia American Legion noticed the stone marker that sits on top of the time capsule was moved and vandalized.
This stone marker that sits on top of a time capsule in Centralia reads: "To Be Opened 2016." But members of the Centralia American Legion fear someone opened it early, or even stole it.
"I don't know why they would do something like that it's just unacceptable," Edward Lawler said.
According to state police, last week, heavy equipment was used to move the stone marker which covers the time capsule. It was put back in place, but vandalized and turned 180 degrees. The time capsule was buried in 1966 to celebrate Centralia's centennial. Former Centralia resident Ed Rooney remembers watching the ceremony.
"We had a lot of people here. Most of the people who were here are buried now too," Rooney said.
Centralia was once a booming mining town in Columbia County, but now officials say there are less than ten people living in the borough after an underground fire started in 1962.
Centralia American Legion members discovered the vandalism Friday. The legion owns the land that the time capsule is on. Edward Michael was born and raised in Centralia but lives in Bloomsburg. He calls the vandalism a violation of respect.
"I don't have the faintest idea of what's in it. But I imagine my father who lived in Centralia his whole life had something in it," Michael said.
"They steal stuff off the veteran's graves so I think this is in the same category. I don't know how they can sleep at night," Rooney said.
The legion members said they must decide what their next step is going to be. Their two options are to dig up the time capsule now to make sure it's still there, or wait until 2016 like originally planned and hope that it's still buried in the ground.
"All I'm afraid of is if somebody did bother the capsule and they opened it and water will get in it. Anything paper, newspaper won't be worth anything. It will all be garbage," Michael said.
Centralia American Legion officials are trying to reach out to current and former Centralia residents to get their input on whether to look for the time capsule now or wait until 2016. There will be a ceremony in 2016 to open the time capsule, which would be the 150th anniversary of Centralia.