Centralia (sĕntrāˈlēə) [key]. 1 City (1990 pop. 14,274), Clinton and Marion counties, S Ill., in an oil, natural gas, coal, farm, and fruit region; inc. 1859. Founded in 1853 by the Illinois Central RR and named accordingly, it is the shipping center for the products of the area. Its railroad yards are still the major industry, but the city also manufactures automobile parts, barbecue sauces, railroad car wheels, bathroom fixtures, and plastics. 2 Borough (1990 pop. 63), Columbia co., E central Pa., 2 mi (3.2 km) N of Ashland; inc. 1866. A former anthracite-coal center, Centralia is now largely a ghost town. Because of a slow-burning fire that began in the early 1960s in coal veins underneath the town, the federal government began evicting residents in 1984. In 1992 all houses there were condemned, and by 1995 most residents had moved away as a result of the fire and a federal home-buyout program. Geologists have said the fire could burn for 500–1,000 years, until the coal is consumed. 3 City (1990 pop. 12,101), Lewis co., SW Wash., at the confluence of the Chehalis and Skookumchuck rivers; inc. 1889. It is a railroad junction and a farm trade center, with a significant timber industry. A coal-fired electric steam plant and two nearby dams generate electricity. The county fairground is there.
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