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Area History

Scranton rests between the well-preserved Pocono Mountains (to the east) with the Endless Mountain Range at her west. Though it maybe best known as a coal mining town, the fact is that coal was a short-lived industry for Scranton, which began with much more humble and noble beginnings, in the land once held by the native Lenape Indians. Their language, Lackawanna, would become the name of the county. New England settlers would arrive in the region during the latter part of the 1700's, creating small industry and a village known as Slocum Hollow. The first non-native settler is said to be Isaac Tripp, who built his home in 1778—a monument that remains to this day.

The industry, which would put Scranton on the map, was metal. Iron T-rails, which had previously only been available from England, were manufactured by Montour Iron Works in nearby Danville, PA. In 1847, Seldon T. Scranton and George W. Scranton (who were brothers) began their production of T-rails for the Erie Railroad in New York. When the Scranton's company thrived, the Scrantons continued their rise by forming the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western (DL&W) Railroad in 1851, to transport their iron and coal production from the area. In1856, Slocum Hollow would become the Borough of Scranton.

By 1901, greatly diminishing iron ore supply precipitated the relocation of the steel company to Lackawanna, New York, Minnesota's iron ore being more readily available by vessels plying the Great Lakes. The main industry of Scranton was gone, and she began again with new industries. Only then would anthracite coal come into play.

Owing to immigration of Eastern Europeans, Scranton became the cultural center of the newly arrived naturalized citizens, who brought with them the silk and textiles industries, churches, cultures and perspectives. World War Two would herald a high demand for energy, and these immigrants would become part of the workforce which would help supply that demand. Only then would Scranton come full on into the coal industry, where it remained until the 1950's.

With the 50's came greater interest in other energy sources, such as oil and gas. Coal would fall off dramatically. The killing strike came from the Knox Mine Disaster in early 1959, when the Susquehanna River flooded the mines. The loss of the coal industry would be disastrous to the DL&W Railroad, which was formed primarily to service that industry. The DL&W would have to merge with the Erie Railroad to survive. No longer necessary as a hub of coal and steel operations, Scranton was eliminated from the corporate structure, nearly crushing the local labor market.

If that weren't enough, the coal mines began collapsing throughout the city Entire blocks of homes were sometimes devoured by cave-ins. By the 1970's, the textile and silk industry brought over by the immigrants was virtually gone, replaced by overseas sources in an ironic correlation with England's T-rail industry By the 1980's, the remaining shops would fall victim to suburb malls which became so popular in those days.