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The Town That Was (2007)

TV-G | | Documentary | 30 January 2007 (USA)
2:38 | Trailer
Portrait of John Lokitis, the youngest of 11 remaining residents of Centralia, Pennsylvania, a town destroyed by an underground mine fire.


Chris Perkel (co-director), Georgie Roland (co-director)
1 nomination. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
John Lokitis John Lokitis ... Self
John Coddington John Coddington ... Self (Archive Footage)
David DeKok David DeKok ... Self
Todd Domboski Todd Domboski ... Self
Colleen Dzwonzyck Colleen Dzwonzyck ... Self
Bob Gadinski Bob Gadinski ... Self
Deanna M. Helm Deanna M. Helm ... Self
Deryl Johnson Deryl Johnson ... Self
Tom Larkin Tom Larkin ... Self
Ed Lawler Ed Lawler ... Self
George Lokitis George Lokitis ... Self (Archive Footage)
Mary Ellen Lokitis Mary Ellen Lokitis ... Self (archive footage)
Ben Marsh Ben Marsh ... Self
Lamar Mervine Lamar Mervine ... Self
Fritz Michael Fritz Michael ... Self
Learn more

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In 1962, a trash fire ignited a seam of anthracite coal beneath Centralia, Pennsylvania, a once thriving mining town of over 1600 people. By the mid 1980's, giant plumes of smoke and deadly carbon monoxide gases billowed from fissures in the ground, the local highway cracked and collapsed, trees were bleached white and petrified, as the fire continued to rage unchecked. It wasn't until a young boy nearly died after falling into a smoldering mine subsidence that the government was pressed into action. After estimating the cost of extinguishing the fire at over a half a billion dollars, the government opted to raze the town and relocate its residents. Today, 11 die-hards remain. Filmed over a period of five years with interviews ranging from former residents to Congressmen, The Town That Was is an intimate portrait of John Lokitis, the youngest remaining Centralian, and his quixotic fight to keep alive a hometown that has literally disintegrated under his feet. His unbowed determination... Written by Georgie Roland, Chris Perkel

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Home is where the fire is.





Did You Know?


Filmed entirely with a three-person crew over the course of four years. See more »


References Gone with the Wind (1939) See more »

User Reviews

The BEST Centralia documentary out there.
14 November 2018 | by panthersfreakSee all my reviews

For anyone who is a fan of Centralia or wants to know more about this town, this documentary is for you. It has a (now former) resident of the town walk you through the history of Centralia and what life used to be like there. This documentary also has experts on coal mines, the fire, and other things. Everything in this documentary is top notch and you will never look at Centralia the same way again after watching this documentary. I have been to Centralia 4 times this year and this documentary gave me insight into this amazing town that I would not have been able to get elsewhere. A must watch.

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Official Sites:

Official site





Release Date:

30 January 2007 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Town That Was See more »

Filming Locations:

Ashland, Pennsylvania, USA See more »


Box Office


$35,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Dog Player Films See more »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

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