This fossil Neuropteris fern I found in Centralia, PA, is a remnant of an extinct genus of seed ferns that thrived during the Carboniferous and Permian periods, roughly 359 to 251 million years ago. These ferns were characterized by their large, intricately veined pinnules (the small leaflets that make up a compound leaf) and were widespread in swampy, tropical environments.
Centralia, Pennsylvania, is most famous for its ongoing underground coal mine fire that has been burning since 1962. The fire started when a trash fire in an abandoned strip mine pit ignited a coal seam. The blaze spread to the vast network of abandoned mines beneath the town, causing dangerous gases to seep into homes and businesses. Eventually, the town was largely abandoned, with only a few residents remaining today.
Centralia's eerie, ghost-town atmosphere and the persistent smoldering fires beneath the town have drawn comparisons to the fictional town of Silent Hill, the setting of the popular video game and film franchise. Although the creators of the Silent Hill series have not confirmed Centralia as a direct inspiration, the similarities have led to a widespread association between the two, with Centralia often being referred to as the "real-life Silent Hill."