Maybe make your own hot spring!

There is a small town on our way to my brothers house called Centralia, Pa. This town has a unique feature in that it is almost a ghost town. You see around the late 70’s and early 80’s it was found that an underground coal mine had caught on fire. While growing up, I had heard a few theories about how it got started. One theory was that it started by a lightening strike. I don’t know the details as to how this would have caused it but alas it is a theory. Another possible way was how the borough used to burn trash in the nearby dump. Apparently the fire wasn’t extinguished correctly, or at all. The other rumor, or theory, was that the state set it on fire so it could relocate the residents and, use eminent domain, then extinguish the fire and start mining the riches of the coal underneath. You pick.

More smoke...

In any case, Centralia is a neat place to drive through. It is basically a field gridded with old streets and sidewalks. A few homes still exist, maybe 5. There are parts where you can see smoke rising from the ground and other parts that are just gray and everything is dead. They have had issues with sink holes and subsistence along the main route 61. It’s an interesting piece of local history and I encourage you to stop by if traveling through that area.

For more pictures go here.


I thought it was smoke at first...

I was on my way in to work this morning, a nice hot stuffy early morning. Don’t think I am complaining, this is how I remember good summers of my childhood…hot! We haven’t had one like this in a while. Even though many can find reason to complain, me included, it really is nice to have a good hot summer again.

What it looked like while driving along side the field.

Anyway, while driving along my friends field (where he recently plowed and planted an assortment of oats and timothy, I think) I saw what looked like plumes of smoke coming from the ground. The weird thing was that the smoke was in small clouds about 3 to 6 feet off the ground. Though it was slightly moving, it was not rising, just hovering. It took me about two seconds to realize that it was some sort of swarming insect, globs of them, just buzzing around in groups basking in the morning sun. I pulled over and looked around for my good camera. This is one of the reasons I like to have a camera with me at all times…you never know what you will come across at any time.

So I realized that all I had was my Droid phone camera. That would just have to do. I snapped a few pictures and am posting them here to see if anyone has an idea as to what insect these may be. It was really neat to see the sun reflecting off there white bodies and wings.

Tried to get a closeup of a swarm.

Round bail on fire

Round bail on fire

I had always heard stories of barns burning down because of hay and what not. But it never really sunk in till I saw this out in a field one day on my way to work. This is from hay being bailed too early, or too wet I believe. Though I wonder why just this bail is burning and not the others. Regardless, I am sure that this farmer is glad that he hadnt collected these round bails yet! I guess also its a good thing that round bails are usually kept outside anyway, as opposed to the smaller square bails.

The term “Barn Burner” was actually derived from the idea of someone setting fire to his own barn to root out a rat infestation. Also it became used to describe ways of  taking down governments, banks and corporations to shake out corruption.

As far as hay bales spontaneously catching fire, it is from heat loving bacteria in the curing process of bailed hay. Many bacteria grow and die in the curing of hay, but if heat loving bacteria are present, and the bales stay warm…look out! This link has more information about how hay fires start and how to prevent them. It is a very interesting read.