top of page



Production of anthracite coal in Pennsylvania peaked in 1917 and 1918, exceeding one hundred million net tons in 1917, and falling to slightly under one hundred million net tons in 1918. {1}  It is fair to assume that almost all coal leaving the anthracite region in those years was transported by rail.


The anthracite railroads of the mid-to-late 19th and early 20th centuries were influenced not only by unfettered competition among the railroad companies but also by the convoluted topography of the region, itself a result of the geologic phenomena that created anthracite some 300 million years ago.  The author wonders whether any rail network elsewhere in the U.S. was as dense and complicated as those in certain parts of the anthracite region. {2}  The sub-region with the most complex rail system was the Lackawanna-Wyoming valley area (the Northern Anthracite Field).  [See, for example, the Old Forge and Wyoming map segments, or visit Google Earth: "Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railroads: a tangled web of railroads in northeast Pennsylvania ..."]


The primary objective of this website is to show, on reasonably current topographical maps:

  • The railroad routes within and exiting from Pennsylvania's anthracite region as they existed around the time of peak anthracite production; and

  • The status of those rail routes today.


This website is not intended to delve into the detailed history of the anthracite railroads, adequately described in numerous other publications and documents [e.g., Bogen, Heydinger and Treese].  However, abbreviated descriptions of the key railroads and the canals that preceded them are presented, in the hope such information may be of interest to the visitor/reader.


The many references (publications and websites) are listed on the REFERENCES page, of which the following were especially informative:

  • Bogen, J.I.

  • Bryant, K.L. (Ed.)

  • Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (several publications)

  • D&L Trail Map website (Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor)

  • Drury, G.H.

  • Dublin, T. and W. Licht

  • Google Earth and Google Earth Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Area Railroads file ("a tangled web..."): ScrantonWilkes - Barre Railroads.kmz

  • Heydinger, E.J.

  • Koehler, J.S.

  • Shank, W.H.

  • Trail Link website (Rails-to-Trails Conservancy)

  • Treese, L.

  • WIkipedia (many topics


{1} Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Protection.  1998 Annual Report on Mining Activities.  Elsewhere is reported about 89 million tons in the peak year (1917). [Bogen]

{2} According to Bogen, Schuylkill County was covered by the densest rail network in the U.S. in the late 1800s.

bottom of page