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  • Writer's pictureMark Vogel

The Lackawanna Coal Mine and the Electric City of Scranton, Pennsylvania

Scranton, Pennsylvania

Scranton, Pennsylvania
Scranton, Pennsylvania

I'm always on the lookout for unique destinations that offer a blend of history, culture, and unexpected surprises. So, when the opportunity arose to visit Scranton, Pennsylvania, and explore a coal mine, I couldn't resist. Little did I know that this trip would also lead me to Pittston and an unexpected encounter with the Pittston Tomato Festival!

“There's always more to a place than meets the eye, and exploring lesser-known gems can lead to unforgettable adventures.”

Upon arriving in Scranton, I dropped off my luggage at the Hilton Scranton & Conference Center hotel. Eager to make the most of my time, I embarked on a short drive to Pittston, a charming town nestled along the picturesque Susquehanna River. To my surprise, I arrived on the same day as the renowned Pittston Tomato Festival.

Curiosity piqued and I found myself venturing into the lively festival. The Pittston Tomato Festival celebrates the region's rich agricultural heritage and, of course, the humble tomato. It's a vibrant celebration featuring food vendors, live music, contests, and even a parade. I marveled at the creative ways tomatoes were incorporated into various dishes, from salsas to pasta sauces. The festival's atmosphere was infectious, as locals and visitors alike reveled in the festivities, sharing their love for this versatile fruit (yes, technically it's a fruit!).

After an eventful day in Pittston, I returned to Scranton to rest up for the following day of exploration.

In the morning, I was eager to discover what the "Electric City" had in store for me. Scranton is often referred to as the "Electric City" due to its historical significance in the development and implementation of electric power. The nickname originated in the late 19th century when Scranton became one of the first cities in the United States to have a successful electric streetcar system.

I began my day by visiting the Radisson Hotel, located next to my own Hilton Scranton & Conference Center. From the outside I could see that the Radisson was originally the Lackawanna Station, a historic railway station that played a vital role in Scranton's industrial past. Stepping inside, I was immediately captivated by the ornate lobby, which exuded an aura of grandeur from a bygone era.

Next, I made my way to the Mall at Steamtown. As I wandered through the mall, something caught my eye—a display featuring the characters from the American version of the beloved TV show, "The Office." It was a delightful reminder that Scranton was the setting for this iconic series, and the city wears its pop culture fame with pride.

Continuing my journey, I ventured to the Steamtown National Historic Site, a testament to Scranton's industrial heritage. I eagerly hopped aboard the Electric City Trolley Ride, which provided an immersive tour of the Historic Scranton Iron Furnaces. The tour offered a glimpse into the lives of the coal miners and the immense importance of the coal industry to the region. Afterward, I spent some time exploring the Electric City Trolley Museum, which showcased a remarkable collection of vintage trolleys and shared the story of how they shaped the city's transportation history.

Finally, the highlight of my trip arrived—the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour. The tour provided me with a unique and immersive experience into the depths of the mine. To access the mine, I boarded a mine car known as a mine "safety car." This car is a specially designed vehicle that travels on rails and is reminiscent of the transportation methods used by miners in the past.

Once inside the safety car, I was seated next to my fellow visitors in rows facing the front, much like a small train car. The car was then lowered into the mine through a sloping shaft. The descent itself was a thrilling experience as we gradually wade our way into the dark underground tunnels, mirroring the journey that coal miners undertook daily.

As the safety car descended, the tour guide provided informative commentary, sharing stories about the miners' lives, the mining techniques employed, and the challenges they faced. The guide shed light on the history and significance of the Lackawanna Coal Mine, making the tour both educational and engaging.

Upon reaching the underground level, we disembarked from the safety car and begin the guided walking tour through a portion of the mine.

The mine tour included various stops where we observed mining equipment, learned about the extraction process, and gained a deeper understanding of the hardships faced by coal miners. The knowledgeable tour guide offered fascinating insights and answered our questions along the way.

After the guided portion of the tour, we returned to the safety car and ascended back to the surface, where explored the visitor center and museum.

It's important to note that safety measures and protocols were in place to ensure the well-being of visitors throughout the tour. These measures included appropriate lighting, ventilation, and pathways to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all.

Overall, the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour provides a unique opportunity to step back in time and gain a deeper appreciation for the labor and sacrifices of coal miners while exploring the underground world they once inhabited.

As I returned to my hotel, I reflected on my time in Scranton. This trip had been a delightful blend of culture, entertainment, and educational experiences.

Scranton, with its rich history, vibrant festivals, and warm hospitality, proved to be an enjoyable destination. It reminded me that there's always more to a place than meets the eye, and exploring lesser-known gems can lead to unforgettable adventures.


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