Monthly Archives: February 2011

Ghost Towns from Around the World: Wednesday Hashima Island

Departing from the hellish fires of yesterday, we travel across the globe and out into the ocean to visit Hashima Island, one of the only known ghost islands.

Between 1887 and 1974, the island was a coal mining facility. Most of the coal was mined from undersea deposits, making the work extremely dangerous. Plus, its an island out at sea. Those concrete walls aren’t there for style they’re typhoon barriers. This was extremely dangerous work.

Hashima Island

Hashima Island.

During the industrialization of Japan, the demand for coal exploded, resulting in a massive influx of workers to Hashima Island. In 1916, the population had grown so large that apartments were built to help the growing amount of workers and further protect from typhoon damage. But, as time continued, the workers kept coming by the hundreds.

Hashima Island

Hashima Island apartments.

In 1959, the 15-acre island was populated by 5,259 people. If you do the math, that comes out to a density of around 216,264 people per square mile. To give you a comparison, in the year 2000, New York City contained 26,402 people per square mile. Hashima Island was a crowded, harsh environment, even more so than New York City, and that’s saying something.

When petroleum became huge in the 1960s, the coal mines started shutting down and the workers lost their jobs. Since coal mining was the only draw to Hashima Island, literally everyone left. These days, there is not a single person on Hashima Island, and it is extremely difficult to gain access to the island. Even the rare few that have gained access do so at their own risk, because the buildings have felt the harsh realities of time and decay.

Hashima Island

Hashima Island, as you would see it today.

As a parting note, Hashima Island was given the nickname Gunkanjima. If you translate this to English, it means Battleship Island. Go take a look at the first picture again. Uncanny, right?

Ghost Towns from Around the World: Tuesday Centralia, Pennsylvania

So, yesterday we saw what happened when a whole town was left to be consumed by the harsh desert. Today, though, we are traveling a little closer to home Centralia, Pennsylvania, a ghost town that may be a little more comparable to hell on Earth.

Centralia is a borough located in Columbia County, Pennsylvania. Since 1981, its population has dwindled from over 1,000 to its current number of seven. (The fact that even seven people still live there is baffling.) If you take a minute to look on any recently published maps, Centralia isn’t there it has been wiped away from geographic recordings of history. Even with the few people that live there, Centralia is a ghost town.

Centralia fire.

Why anyone would remain here, I have no clue.

Here’s the story of Centralia:

In 1962, some volunteer firemen were brought in to burn the towns landfill, which happened to be located on an abandoned strip mine. The strip mine was connected to a massive coal vein running near the surface. When the firemen lit the landfill on fire, they also happened to light the coal vein, causing a massive fire to burn beneath Centralia.

Centralia fire.

Seriously, stay away from Centralia.

Let me point something out though: the fire went unnoticed for seventeen years, from 1962 to 1979. Remember, coal burns very slowly, and a massive vein burns even slower. For seventeen years, the whole town was living normal lives above a gigantic coal-burning fire, unaware of the extreme danger they were in.

In 1979, a gas-station owner, and then mayor, John Coddington, tested the fuel level in his gas tanks. He noticed the fuel was hot, much too hot for normal storing conditions. He tested the temperature and found it to be at 172 degrees Fahrenheit. But, the problem did not receive massive attention until 1981, when a sinkhole that was four feet wide by 150 feet deep suddenly opened underneath the feet of a 12-year-old resident.

Centralia sinkhole.

One of the many sinkholes in Centralia.

Now, you may be thinking, Phew, glad Centralia is dealt with and that fire is out. Wrong, the fire is still burning today. There has been a massive, toxin-spewing fire burning underneath the town of Centralia for the last 49 years. And seven people still live there

Centralia.

Centralia, as it can be seen today.

Ghost Towns from Around the World: Monday Kolmanskop

Kolmanskop, or Colemans Hill, was once a small mining settlement located in the Namib Desert in southern Namibia. The settlements name comes from a transport driver named Johnny Coleman, who left his ox wagon on a small hill opposite the settlement. In 1908, when one of the miners discovered a large diamond, people rushed to the Namib Desert in hopes of making a fortune. Within two years, Kolmanskop grew from a small settlement to a thriving town, equipped with a hospital, theater, school, ice factory, residential buildings, casino, and the first tram in Africa.

Kolmanskop

Welcome to Kolmanskop.

Unfortunately, the diamond-fields of Kolmanskop were exhausted roughly around the end of World War I, leading to a swift decline in residents. In 1954, the town was completely abandoned.

Kolmanskop

Kolmanskop’s decline.

Due to the geological placement of the town, almost every house has become infested with knee-deep sand. Kolmanskop has become a very popular tourist attraction, and there are a few vigilant photographers who brave the journey out to Kolmanskop to get a picture of the deserts consumption of this once thriving town.

Kolmanskop

Inside a Kolmanskop house.

Kolmanskop

Another house.

Nowadays, very little remains of the once booming town of Kolmanskop. There are no streets, no gardens, no people, and even most of the buildings have felt the degradation of age. This is truly a ghost town.

Kolmanskop

Come back tomorrow for another ghost town.

The Jack-o-lantern: Or, the Story of Jack the Smith

Several centuries ago, there lived a drunkard known as Jack the Smith. He wandered the many towns and villages of Ireland, drinking, yelling, and making trouble wherever he went. Overtime, Jack became widely known as a deceiver and manipulator; he was a total blotch on society. On one cold, windy night, the Devil heard the stories of Jacks careless, evil deeds. The Devil, astonished that someone might rival his own evilness, set off to find Jack.

Traditional Irish Jack-o'-lantern.

Traditional Irish Jack-o’-lantern.

Jack was drunk, walking through the countryside, when he found a body laying on the pathway. The body, with a grimace across its face, was none other than the Devil. Jack sobered up and realized that his end was coming, quickly. But before the Devil could take Jack to Hell, Jack asked for a final request: a drink of ale. The Devil agreed and the two made their way to a local alehouse, where the Devil supplied Jack with copious amounts of alcohol. Once Jack had his fill, he asked the Devil to cover his tab, but the Devil had no money. So, Jack, using his manipulative tongue, convinced the Devil to metamorphose into a silver coin to pay for the tab. Instead of using the coin to pay for the tab, though, Jack stuck it in his pocket, next to a crucifix, disabling the Devils ability to escape. For his freedom, the Devil struck a deal with Jack: the Devil would spare Jack for ten years, if Jack let him go. Jack agreed and the years passed.

Ten years later, Jack was once again approached by the Devil. Jack feigned acceptance of following the Devil to Hell, but, similar to last time, he asked for one last request: an apple from a nearby tree. Foolishly, the Devil scampered up a local apple tree to get Jack his last and final apple. While the Devil was in the tree, Jack placed numerous crucifixes at its trunk, trapping the Devil in the tree. Frustrated at his entrapment, the Devil demanded a deal for his release. This time, thinking that he could avoid the Devil forever, Jack requested that his soul never be taken to Hell. The Devil agreed and was set free.

As with any living being, Jack eventually felt the tinge of death and he passed away. However, due to his evil deeds, he was denied the entrance to Heaven, so Jack turned to Hell for a place to rest his soul. Unfortunately, the Devil, committing to his deal, denied Jack entrance, dooming him to walk the Earth until the end of days. Taking pity on Jack, the Devil gave him a lantern, so Jack can see his way around the world, even at night. The Devil called it a Jack-o-lantern.

Ghosts: Unknown Aerial Sightings Caught on Film

Since February 23rd, 2010, the National Geographic has been hunting down and documenting paranormal activity in the television series Paranatural. Whether it is a haunted house or a mountain range, they have been scouring for strange occurrences. Unlike most Youtube videos and other questionable ghost sightings, the National Geographic tends to utilize professional equipment and experts within the field of paranormal activity. One such area they have investigated, Lineville Gorge, lies within Western North Carolina.

The Lineville Gorge is well known to the residents living within the vicinity, telling tales of strange lights, dancing orbs, paranormal appearances, and all sorts of ghostly happenings. There have been so many occurrences that the residents have taken to calling them ghost lights, The Ghosts of Brown Mountain, or The Brown Mountain Lights. These lights are described as glowing orbs of bright light that manifest suddenly, float upward, and often move unnaturally quick.

Traditionally, glowing orbs, more commonly known as will-o-the-wisp, can be easily explained. Decomposing flesh can potentially give off the chemicals phophine and methane. Phosphine will spontaneously ignite when contacted with oxygen in the air, thus lighting a small fire above the decaying corpse. This fire continues burning for a prolonged period of time, often until the corpse has completely decomposed and no longer can produce phosphine gases. However, unlike the video above, these lights are not known to move, hover, and change colors. Will-o-the-wisps are merely a natural bacterial byproduct.

The ghost lights in Lineville Gorge do not represent a singular occurrence. There have been countless sightings of dancing, glowing orbs around the world. And even today, in our modern society, we are still trying to figure out where they come from and why they appear. Whether they are the restless souls of the deceased, or the oxidation of phosphine and methane, we may never know. One thing is certain: they have captured the attention of the human race and continue to freak us out.

Sleep well, lock your doors, and keep a camera close by for those late night ghost sightings.