Scranton, PA

Written by on June 6, 2020 in Lackawanna with 0 Comments
Scranton, PA

Though anthracite coal was being mined in Carbondale to the north and Wilkes-Barre to the south, the industries that precipitated the city’s early rapid growth were iron and steel. In the 1840s, brothers Selden Theophilus Scranton and George Whitfield Scranton, who had worked at Oxford Furnace in Belvidere, New Jersey, founded what became Lackawanna Iron & Coal, later developing as the Lackawanna Steel Company. It initially started producing iron nails, but that venture failed due to low-quality iron. The Erie Railroad’s construction in New York State was delayed by its having to acquire iron rails as imports from England. The Scrantons’ firm decided to switch its focus to producing T-rails for the Erie; the company soon became a major producer of rails for the rapidly expanding railroads.

In 1851, the Scrantons built the Lackawanna and Western Railroad (L&W) northward, with recent Irish immigrants supplying most of the labor, to meet the Erie Railroad in Great Bend, Pennsylvania. Thus they could transport manufactured rails from the Lackawanna Valley to New York and the Midwest.

Figure 1 Fancy cancel of the Scrantonia Rail, a cross section of the product that brought prosperity to Scranton. Both letters authored by Selden T. Scranton in June of 1850. Date lined from the Lackawanna Iron Works. Scrantonia was the first name for the post office from 1850-1851 certainly better than the local name of Shallow Hollow.

Figure 2 Cover date lined January of 1851 with the 34 mm CDS “Scrantonia

Figure 3 By 1852 the official name was changed from Scrantonia to Scranton. Interestingly, the solution for the Post Master was to have the last 2 letters removed from the 34 CDS resulting in the frequently encountered off centered town name marking.