• An engineer inspects the running gear of a steam locomotive at Steamtown NHS


    National Historic Site Pennsylvania


Panorama of downtown Scranton, nestled in the Lackawanna Valley, c.1909

Panorama of downtown Scranton, PA c. 1909

Photograph courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [pan 6a14372]

Scranton: Where the Great Roads Meet

"The essay title was once a slogan of Scranton's Chamber of Commerce and the great roads were the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western, the Delaware and Hudson, and the Erie railroads, as well as several others. But Scranton did not begin where commerce carrying roads met. It had an odd start in a deep valley without benefit of populace or industry." - excerpt from "Scranton: Where the Great Roads Meet," written by former Steamtown NHS Curator, Ella S. Rayburn

This brief essay was written for a national register of historic places travel itinerary in conjunction with a partnership project produced by the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places, the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Steamtown National Historic Site, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO), and the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions (NAPC).

Did You Know?

USS Olympia

Many railroads, particularly Eastern roads, used anthracite coal for locomotive fuel during the early steam era. During World War I, the US Navy and the Allied Forces used anthracite coal to power the steam boilers of warships such as Admiral Dewey's USS Olympia, which is berthed at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia. Burning anthracite resulted in low-smoke emissions from steamship boilers and gave the Allies a strategic opportunity to close-in on the enemy in a battle. With anthracite coal diverted to the war effort, locomotive builders adapted to using bituminous coal in their future designs.