All the way back in 2007, when ForgottenPA was just a little personal
blog about my group's visit to Centralia, we caught wind of a ghost
town with actual empty houses still in it. Not only were there
buildings, but they were made of concrete! We couldn't get there fast
That ghost town, of course, was Concrete City, in Nanticoke.
Construction began in 1911 and was completed in 1913 by the coal
division of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company to
provide homes for colliery workers. The two-story double homes were
literally made of poured concrete, efficiently using the same floor
plan for both the first and second floors – the second floors all had
staircases that ran into the ceilings, without providing any access to
Rented out for $8 a month, the houses served as homes for some of the
company's top staff, but problems cropped up. Paint blistered and
peeled. Water condensed on the inside walls, in spite of using
moisture-repellent construction materials and plaster. One former
resident even said that, in winter, her father's shirts would freeze,
and her mother had to iron them before he could even put them on.
Above all, the houses lacked indoor plumbing, and when it became
standard for residential housing, the company was not interested in
making the improvements. Concrete city was abandoned in 1924, only
eleven years after its construction. Attempts to demolish the town
were also unsuccessful – it was said that a hundred sticks of dynamite
did little to bring down one of the houses.
The trip to Concrete City was a turning point for us – obviously we
weren't poking around the houses in Centralia, but here, we had the
freedom to enter the buildings, to see what time and Mother Nature can
do to man-made structures, to really explore. After being so excited
to get to Concrete City, we felt a real dread, standing at the gaping
black entryway of the first house: What was in there? Would we make it
out alive? When we came out, would we ever be the same?
Of course there was interesting and unique things to see in all the
buildings; clearly, we survived; but we never were the same after our
visit to Concrete City. More than ever, we wanted to explore, to
learn, to see what other wonderful secrets Pennsylvania had been
keeping tucked out of the way. And even though the necessities of work
and life may keep us busy, like the houses at that old ghost town, our
love of exploration will survive anything.
Written by Steve Skipp c/o ForgottenPA
Follow ForgottenPA Blog
Like them on Facebook