Holidays

Creepy Road Trips

by Colleen Clark

Philadelphia to Centralia, Pennsylvania

Dearly departed: The only thing spookier than spirits and ghouls are the freakish realities of the human form. Those are on full display at Philadelphia's Mütter Museum, where the creepy collection includes horned skulls and the Soap Lady, the exhumed body of a woman whose flesh turned to a fatty wax after her burial in the early 1800s.

Spooky stops: Pennsylvania's towns are haunted by the specters of its failed industries. On your way to I-81 and the abandoned coal towns of northeastern Pennsylvania, make a pit stop at Frick's Lock, a canal town an hour north of Philly that was done in when a nuclear power plant was constructed next door. Smoking stacks tower behind boarded-up farmhouses and the rusting remains of a VW Beetle. Visiting is technically trespassing, so enter at your own risk. Afterward, continue two hours north to Concrete City, a housing development founded in 1911 outside the old mining town of Nanticoke. The structures lasted little more than a decade before moisture invaded the porous concrete, coating the walls in muck. The shells of these former residences feel like violated graves, their walls scorched and littered with bullet holes from police and military training exercises.

Final resting place: Pennsylvania's spookiest ghost town, Centralia, sits an hour southwest of Frick's Lock. A coal fire, started in 1962 and expected to burn for centuries to come, creeps underground, sending trailing wisps of smoke through cracks in the pavement and poisonous gases up into basements. Perhaps the scariest part is that a handful of residents refuse to leave. You should: The nearest hotels are in Frackville.

See a map of this road trip itinerary

Dark arts south of the border >

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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