During the mid 1800s, two enormous anthracite coal deposits were discovered running east to west along the full length of Newport Township. One deposit ran from the Honey Pot section of Nanticoke west through Glen Lyon to the Susquehanna River; the other ran from Alden through Wanamie west into Conyham Township. The discovery attracted a number of local start-up, regional and major railroad companies, who began buying and leasing land throughout the township. By 1870, the railroads had transformed Newport Township from an agricultural center into a major anthracite coal producing area.

In 1870 the tracks of seven railroads crisscrossed the eastern fourth of the township: the Delaware and Hudson, Delaware Lackawana and Western (D. L. & W.), Illinois and Western, Lackawana and Bloomsburg, Lehigh Valley, Central of New Jersey and the Pennsylvania. As companies and mining interests were bought, sold or otherwise acquired, the Jersey Central and the Pennsy eventually became the only two railroads operating in Newport Township.

The D. L. & W. Railroad and Coal Company was first to extend its track to the west when it opened mines at Alden and Wanamie. The D. L. & W. coal mining operation later became the Glen Alden Coal Company and its railroad operation became part of the Central of New Jersey Railroad system. By 1870, the Jersey Central had firmly establish itself in Newport Township. Its track connected Glen Alden collieries from Wilkes-Barre to Ashley, Alden and Wanamie. In 1885, the Jersey Central extended its track from Wanamie further west to the Lee Mine, near the small hamlet of Lee.

In April 1867, the Pittston Railroad and Coal Company acquired over 6,000 acres of coal lands along the Susquehanna River in Nanticoke. Its holdings were extended into Newport Township west along Newport Creek to Glen Lyon and beyond to the escarpment overlooking the Susquehanna near Mocanaqua.

The Pennsylvania Railroad acquired the Pittston Railroad and Coal Company and changed its name to the Susquehanna Coal Company in February 1869. In 1870 the Pennsy laid a branch track from its mainline in Nanticoke west to Susquehanna’s Colliery No. 6 in Glen Lyon. At track’s end, the Pennsy also built and operated the Glen Lyon Station to handle freight and passengers. In 1913 the Pennsylvania Railroad began selling its Susquehanna stock and property to the Susquehanna Collieries Company, a subsidiary of the M.A. Hanna Company of Cleveland, Ohio. By 1917, the Pennsy had divested itself of all its interests in mining and selling coal.

Following the sale, the Pennsylvania Railroad continued as the sole provider of transportation to the Susquehanna Coal Company and its collieries. Before 1900, the Sunbury Division of the Philadelphia and Erie Railroad, a Pennsylvania subsidiary, serviced the Susquehanna collieries; after 1900, the Delaware and Hudson, another Pennsylvania subsidiary took over. After 1917, the Pennsy began using its own rolling stock on the route. The business relationship continued between the companies until the Susquehanna Coal Company was dissolved around 1967.

After the demise of the anthracite coal industry in Newport Township, the need for the railroads disappeared. The Pennsylvania and Central of New Jersey track systems were removed and the rights-of-way reverted to state ownership.

Sources: US Geological Survey maps, Pennsylvania State Archives and the History of Luzerne County, M.C. Bradsby.

This information was donated by: Tony Doren

© Mary Ann Lubinsky for the PAGenWeb Project, and by Individual Contributors