Lackawanna County in Northeast Pennsylvania brings the Industrial Revolution to life. Students could discover the region that fueled a nation through innovative developments and industries, forged the way for unions and child labor laws, and brought a multitude of cultures and traditions still celebrated today. Explore these sites and get a different perspective of this tumultuous time in our history.
Begin your journey at the Historic Iron Furnaces, where students could walk the grounds of these massive stone structures used to create the iron that laid the foundation for railroad tracks across the country.
To sustain production at the furnaces, large amounts of coal were needed for fuel. The Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour offers a unique perspective of life as a coal miner, 300 feet beneath the Earth. Stick close to your guide as you walk through the winding underground gangways and rock tunnels past three different veins of hard coal. Listen as they explain the fascinating methods used and the heroic efforts involved, as men and boys worked to heat a nation and fuel the conversion of our economy—from agriculture to industry.
The Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum focuses on the history of hard coal mining, its related industries and the immigrant culture of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The museum tells the story of the people who came from Europe to work in the anthracite mining and textiles industries. As students tour the facility, they’ll experience the lives of proud people who endured harsh working conditions yet carved out communities filled with tradition. Visitors are welcomed into the families’ homes and neighborhoods with a moment of reflection in the kitchen, a visit to the pub, or a seat in a local church.
At Steamtown National Historic Site, students could learn the history of steam engines, see the giant locomotives that helped expand our nation, and hear the sensational true stories of those that rode, worked for, and built these beautiful machines. You’ll feel the weight of history as student groups tour this national museum and be amazed at the ingenuity of the engines and the turntable.
Located in the same park is the Electric City Trolley Museum, which commemorates the first successfully operational electric-powered streetcar system in the United States. Students could enjoy the interactive exhibits and displays, including vintage trolleys, before climbing aboard an authentic 1926 or 1932 antique trolley for a 5.5-mile trip over Roaring Brook through the mile-long tunnel and along the original Laurel Line.
The era of the Industrial Revolution also brought world-class entertainment to the stages of Scranton. As the saying went, “If you can play Scranton, you can play anywhere.” The wealthy coal barons and railroad tycoons were a tough crowd to please, but Harry Houdini was one of their favorite performers. Visit the Houdini Museum to learn more about Harry’s time in Scranton, his life and his legacy, before enjoying a magic show.
Learn more by visiting Lackawanna County.
Content and photo courtesy of Lackawanna County Convention & Visitors Bureau.