A new kind of natural beauty on the trail
The Lackawanna River Heritage Trail (LRHT) is a linear, interpretive path. It not only connects communities, but it’s also the spine of the Lackawanna Greenway. In addition to its uses for health, fitness, recreation, socialization, enjoyment of the outdoors, alternative transportation and access to the river, the trail also provides a close view of important remnants of the region’s history and culture. Recently, a unique community partnership and talented industrial artists have transformed the trail into an outdoor art gallery! Large iron sculptures have been installed at several sites along the trail, complementing and enhancing the landscape.
The new project, Confluence: Art on the Trail, is the result of a collaborative effort among Keystone College, Keystone Iron Works, Lackawanna County Department of Arts and Culture and the Lackawanna Heritage Valley. Aptly named for the confluence of the Lackawanna and Susquehanna Rivers, as well as the coming together of arts, culture, the environment and diverse organizations, this endeavor was made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Lackawanna County’s Arts Engage program matches professional artists with young people who have encountered challenges in traditional classrooms. Having been identified as “at-risk,” these students work under the tutelage of Nikki Moser of Keystone Iron Works, training in practical skills for future careers in the industrial arts. Students are introduced to creative and productive outlets for their talents and energies. Some graduates have gone on to enroll in college-level arts programs.
A large vessel called The Hands is located on the Downtown Scranton Riverwalk near the spur trail connecting to Scranton High School. Cast by Arts Engage students using their own hands as part of the mold, the handprints in the vessel symbolize the hard work, determination and artistic ability of young people who have learned to experience the joy of casting iron for the first time.
Each year, a team of young artists participate in the Iron Pour at the Arts on Fire Festival at the historic Scranton Iron Furnaces in early June. It is a delight to observe the skill and enthusiasm of these young artists when they experience the pride and excitement of creating a work of art using the authentic process that was utilized when the Iron Furnaces were active in the late 19th and early 20th century. Their accomplishment is inspiring, and it represents the spirit of resilience and hard work that characterizes our local heritage.