The final four volumes in the 24-volume history of the D&H railroad by Dr. S. Robert Powell were published by the Carbondale Historical Society in August 2018.
“Each of these volumes is an e-book,” explained Dr. Powell, “and consists of one or more pdf files on a DVD. To read each volume, the reader inserts the disc into a computer, opens the file(s) on the disc, and scrolls through the text at his/her own rate of speed.” All of these volumes are substantial documents, with many of them being several hundred pages long. In the entire series, there are over ten thousand pages.
The content of these volumes is illustrated with numerous photographs, maps, and drawings, many of which have never before been published. “For over twenty years,” said Dr. Powell, “I have been doing research in libraries and historical societies throughout the anthracite region and the territory through which the many D&H rail lines and the D&H Canal passed, and I have uncovered some remarkable facts about the D&H, as well as photographs and documents that have never been published, and they are all presented in these books.”
The first five volumes in the series are about the five different configurations of the Gravity Railroad that were built between Carbondale and the D&H Canal at Honesdale, which opened on October 9, 1829, with the foot of Plane No. 1 on North Main Street, Carbondale, behind the present Ben-Mar Restaurant. “Many people don’t realize that the Gravity Railroad was re-built five times in the course of the nineteenth century so that the D&H could meet market demands for anthracite coal,” said Powell. By the time of the American Civil War, the D&H was sending over a half million tons of coal to market over the Gravity Railroad.
Coal from Carbondale and the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valleys was shipped by the Gravity Railroad to Honesdale and by the D8H Canal from Honesdale to the Hudson River at Kingston. Most of the coal was sent down the Hudson River to New York City and to coastal New England, but coal was also trans-shipped through the Erie Canal to the American mid west and to Canada through the Champlain Canal and to interior New England and to Canada by means of several D&H rail lines to the north of the Pennsylvania coal fields.
“When the D&H began shipping coal to market in 1829, America was in the throes of its first energy crisis,” Powell explained. “Virtually all of the trees in the vicinity of the cities and towns in the East had been cut down for fuel. Anthracite coal filled that need for fuel and, at the same time, made possible the industrial revolution in America in the nineteenth century,” he continued.
Among the topics covered in these 24 volumes are: passenger service on the Gravity Railroad, working horses and mules, waterpower on the Gravity Railroad, breakers, the mining of anthracite coal, the Stourbridge Lion, Farview Park, the D&H steam line between Carbondale and Scranton, the Stourbridge Lion, the quality of life in the Lackawanna Valley in the nineteenth century, the anthracite coal strike of 1902, locomotives and roundhouse, the Jefferson Branch of the Erie Railroad, and D&H steam lines beyond the Lackawanna Valley.
Copies of all of these volumes are available at the Carbondale Historical Society, the Wayne County Historical Society, and on-line via the Carbondale Historical Society’s webpage www.carbondalepahistorical. org