Alvira, PA.

Bunker 1 Bunker 2

Munitions Bunkers 1 & 2, Alvira PA.

A few Sundays ago, my aunt, cousin and I took 44 to the ghost town of Alvira. We'd been sitting around, sipping Coke and chatting about the quiet deserted places in PA. My aunt brought up Alvira, a town mentioned in Pennsylvania Ghost Towns: Uncovering the Hidden Past. As it's about 20 minutes (give or take) from her house, the three of use headed out there.

Alvira, a curious place, sits inside PA State Game Lands 252. A sharp right off of 44 onto Mill Road takes you to a stop sign. Make a right and you find yourself bumping and heaving down a gently maintained road for about a quarter of a mile. We parked between a beat-up black Chevy truck and a grey Aerostar and listened to the car doors shut against a strange, wide quiet.

Founded in 1825 as a farming community, Alvira was a small town of about 400 people. In 1942, the U.S. Government took over about 8,500 acres of land in the area to house a TNT factory and storage facilities. The town was evacuated by eminent domain and the residents were promised that they would be able to buy back their land after WWII was over. Turns out, that was a lie. The government over-estimated the need for TNT and eventually the factory closed, long before the war ended. The land was divided up and sold to different owners; one for a golf course, the other for a prison. The factory it's self now sits behind the walls of the Allenwood Prison and houses minimum security prisoners.

Bunker 3 Bunker 4

Bunkers 3 & 4.

Two cemeteries, church and house foundations, many of the 149 storage bunkers and the grid of the town remains. The cemetaries are extremely well-maintained, considering their age and place. There were a few newer headstones; my cousin spotted one that was from 2000 or so.

The bunkers are igloo shaped, built to withstand an accidental blast. Of the four we came across, one was open and unlocked; the others were not only locked but welded shut. The open one, which I assume was number 4, is clearly used as a party spot. There were empty beer cans and shot gun shells scattered near the opening and the remnants of a fire inside. The walls were covered in graffiti of the "Cindy is a slut" and "John has a small dick" variety. As the walls are solid concrete and dome-shaped, everything echoed intensely. My footsteps against the dirty floor hung and vibrated in the air for 5-7 seconds after they were taken.

New Part of Washington Presbyterian Church Cemetary

New Part of the Washington Presbyterian Church Cemetery

We wondered around for about an hour and half. There were a few other people there but they disappeared as soon as they appeared. Mostly, it was just quiet with very little sounds from animals or the highway. We attempted to trek down to where the majority of the house foundations remain but the field was soaked and muddy. My aunt found (what we assume is) a groundhog skeleton; she took the skull and I took the vertebrae and pelvis bone.

Muddy with aching feet, we headed back to her house in silence, me making mental notes of photographs that I need to take along routes 15 and 44. At her house, she made meatloaf, while the race played on TV and the two of us talked about music, life, the internet, whatever came up. I left around 4.30 and stopped in Northumberland for hoagies at Amato's.