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Original posting - August 2016

Most recent revision - October 2016



The idea for the research that resulted in this website arose from the realization that 2017 is the centennial of the year of peak production of anthracite coal in Pennsylvania.  The main objective of the work was to depict, on recent topographical maps: (A) the routes (or lines) of the railroads that served Pennsylvania's anthracite region during the years of peak anthracite production; and (B) the status of those rail routes today, a century later.  The primary result is the series of 113 map segments, presented herein.  General information is also presented about the early twentieth-century anthracite railroads and the current rails-to-trails in the anthracite region.


To skip the main text in order to view the map segments, refer to the MAPPING page for information, or go directly to the MAP INDEX AND GRID page (MAP INDEX page for "mobile" visitors) and click on the name of any map segment.

Visitors unfamiliar with the geography of northeast Pennsylania may wish to click here to view a map showing the approximate extent of the anthracite fields and the surrounding region.

The author's several interests In pursuing this subject are:

  • The anthracite region’s fascinating geography, topography, geology and history;

  • Railroading in general and the existing Reading, Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad system in particular;

  • National and state "Rails-to-Trails" initiatives;

  • Maps, particularly topographic maps; and

  • Memories of travel to the anthracite region as a youth, and living within it for several years as a relatively young adult.

Information was obtained from numerous publications and websites; these are listed on the REFERENCES page.  The "web" has seemingly countless sites that provide all sorts of information, both in text and photographs, about the anthracite railroads and the rails-to-trails in the region.

In the text, numerals in curly brackets "{ }" indicate footnotes at the bottom of the respective page.

I would mention, with appreciation, the help and information provided by two individuals with whom I visited.  Richard (Pat) McKnight of the U.S. National Park Service is the Historian/Archivist at Steamtown National Historic Site, in Scranton.  He graciously provided copies of maps from Steamtown's extensive archives that will surely be useful in confirming, correcting and refining the mapping presented in this website.  Daren Geschwindt is Assistant Vice President - Merchandise Traffic for the Reading & Northern  (Reading, Blue Mountain and Northern) Railroad in Port Clinton.  He courteously spent considerable time explaining details about his company's system and correcting some misidentifications of rail lines on my maps.

I wish also to thank two others: Dr. Douglas Heath for his several suggestions, especially  that a website might be an appropriate medium to present the results of this research; and James Somers (my cousin) for guiding me in exploratory tours of the railroads of the greater Hazleton area.

There are undoubtedly errors in the text and in the mapping which I will attempt to correct as are discovered or brought to my attention.  Caution should be exercised in any formal use of this information without checking other sources.

Finally, I hope your visit is enjoyable and informative, especially if it leads to a greater interest in, or appreciation of, the present and former railroad network and the many rails-to-trails in Pennsylvania's anthracite region.

Jan C. Phillips, Allentown, PA

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