Graphic Designer Looks to Recreate “Old” Centralia

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CENTRALIA -- Centralia in Columbia County has been virtually a ghost town since a mine fire chased nearly everyone out of the borough in the early 1980s.

Now, a graphic designer in the area is hoping to bring the area back to life - digitally!

"Some people think of it as their own little personal dump," explained Steve Catizone, a graphic designer in Aristes. "Don't pay the garbageman, (people say,)let's just go to Centralia."

That's what prompted Steve Catizone to try to raise $10,000 to help build a 3D interactive model of what Centralia used to look like before the federal government and the mine fire drove them out.

"Gather all the info, scale and everything else, and one by one rebuild each home and put it altogether and we'll have Centralia," Catizone explained.

Catizone hopes people who used to live in the area and even those curious tourists will share his enthusiasm for the project.

"Be cool to see where the people used to live and stuff," said Chad Morgan of Levittown.

"The more attention folks can have on the community and there is a community here, it's just very small, the better of this community is going to be," explained John Comarnisky, who lived in Centralia until 2009.  While Comarnisky likes the idea, he doesn't know how big a difference it will make from the pictures he has growing up.

"For me personally, it wouldn't be any big kind of attraction," he added.

If you're interested in donating to the project, you can do so by clicking here.


  • S.J. Catizone

    First, I’d like to thank Clay at WNEP for taking the time to look into this story.
    Second, I’d really like to thank everyone who’s been sharing this story via Facebook and Twitter – it’s incredibly appreciated <3

    I feel like I need to clarify a bit of what it is exactly I'm trying to do (other than what's described on the fundraiser page) based on what I've seen here and on Facebook:
    It's not just a matter of creating 3d, cgi models of Centralia and Byrnesville – yes, Greg, you're correct, I'm doing both towns at once – it's a matter of gathering as much information as possible ( and there's A LOT) about every single building (e.g. home, business, church, street, etc.) in these towns and recreating them (through Lightwave – a 3d modeling/animation program) ONE BUILDING AT A TIME and in as much detail as possible, not in batches or in bulk. I'm willing to dedicate approximately 2 years (or more if needed) to make this happen and share it with everyone once completed.

    I'm doing this as a way to help preserve what was once there and where so many families lived (included some of mine) and to provide a deeper insight to the younger generation the immensity of what happened there. For now, they can only go there and see the aftermath…perhaps some photos or videos, but not fully grasp the idea of what was actually there.

    Yes, row-homes are row-homes. But alas, my grandparent's house wasn't torn down in Mount Carmel or Ashland, nor was my cousins' homes or our friends' homes or the businesses they went to. These homes were (quite literally) taken away and not by choice. I have nothing but absolute respect for those that fought so hard to remain there – wonderful to say the least!

    While talking with Clay during our interview, it was suggested that follow-ups on the project would be a great idea once it got started. Having said that, I believe the first update will be for everyone to see the first building recreated. I'll be sending wire frame, semi-rendered and fully rendered versions of this to the news station so people can get a better idea of what's involved creating it. After which might be an entire, completely rendered block….then a portion of the town…until ultimately both towns fully rendered.

    Everything after that is described on the fundraiser page.

    Thanks again to everyone who's taken interest in this project and/or story.

    Steven J. Catizone

  • Pete Kachingski

    You want to know what Centralia looked like? Go to Mount Carmel or Ashland. Row-homes are row-homes no matter where they are. Dont waste my money or time!

    • Jay

      Don’t be so ignorant. He’s trying to raise money via GoFundMe, which like Kickstarter is via voluntary donations. If you don’t want to waste your time, might want to quite wasting it on internet comment boards.

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