Historical Markers
Lackawanna County Historical Marker
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Lackawanna County

Poconos / Endless Mountains


Marker Location:
Courthouse Square, Spruce Street, Scranton

Dedication Date:
May 25, 1982

Behind the Marker

A bird's eye view of Scranton, Pennsylvania, during the 1890s. Scranton is the Lackawanna county seat and was the center of much of the activity in the anthracite trade during its heyday.
Scranton, PA, Drawn by T. M. Fowler and A. E. Downs, circa 1890.
Anthracite in Lackawanna County comes from the Northern Coal Field, a crescent-shaped geological designation split between Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties, in an area more popularly known as the Wyoming Valley. Though it was the last developed of the four coal fields, it was considered the prize because it contains some of the richest anthracite deposits in the world. The elite of Wilkes-Barre in Luzerne County, an industrial center established at the beginning of anthracite mining and transportation era, fought against the establishment of Lackawanna County and attempted to contain the rise of Scranton, its rival city.
Employees gather at the Olyphant Colliery, Olyphant, Lackawanna County, on payday in 1915.
Employees gather at the Olyphant Colliery, Olyphant, Lackawanna County, on payday...

Even though Scranton became known as the "anthracite coal mining capital of the world," it also evolved into a major manufacturing center, with entrepreneurs and investors enticed to the area by the Scrantons, as well as a railroad junction that was vital to its success. In the 1840s the Scranton family first tried manufacturing pig iron, and then nails, but both ventures were unsuccessful, in large part because the area lacked affordable transportation routes to markets.

In an even riskier move, they borrowed money from New York investors after securing the rail contract for a new line of the New York and Erie Railroad. They finally achieved success with this project and by 1853 had incorporated their Lackawanna Iron and Coal Company. In the same year, the family also built two railroads from Scranton, running north and east. These lines would later become the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad.

Coal and rail operations employed thousands in Dickson City, Olyphant, Dunmore, Carbondale, and other Lackawanna County towns. Less well-known is Throop, just north of Scranton.  There, in 1911, a fire that originated in the engine room suffocated seventy-three miners at the Pancoast mine, operated by the Scranton Coal Company.  In response to the markerAnthracite Mine Disaster, the Pennsylvania legislature revised the state's mining laws to require all underground buildings to be constructed of incombustible materials.
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