Heritage Express: A Sequel 20 years in the Making

SCRANTON — Twenty years have passed since the Heritage Express rolled out of the former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railyards at the Steamtown National Historic Site. Now, more than 1,700 fourth-grade students are getting a chance to relive that magical journey through history woven into the fabric of the Lackawanna Valley. 

“Bringing back the Heritage Express is not just about reliving history but also inspiring the next generation to cherish our heritage,” explained Owen Worozbyt, director of operations for the Lackawanna Valley Heritage Authority.  Worozbyt and April Rogato, LHVA executive assistant, applied for a $24,000 grant from the National Park Foundation to revitalize the program. LHVA joined forces with the National Park Service, Northeast Educational Intermediate Unit 19, and the Lackawanna Historical Society to breathe new life into the day-long adventure.

Earlier this year, NPS rangers visited more than 20 schools and engaged students with a basic framework of the program, explaining the importance of railroads, anthracite coal mining, and the textile industry that helped fuel America’s Industrial Revolution. 

Every Thursday and Friday throughout May, groups of students take an in-depth tour of Steamtown, where the rangers guide them through the roundhouse, museum, and restoration/repair facilities. Excitement builds as they board a select train for a trip back into time, complete with costumed characters who step out of history books and provide fascinating context as the story unfolds.

The 90-minute excursion winds its way through former coal mining towns before arriving in Carbondale, the historic home of the Delaware & Hudson Canal Company and the first deep-veined anthracite coal mine in the United States. Many youngsters marvel at the resilience of past generations who shaped the region’s history and left an indelible mark on the nation.

“The Heritage Express embodies our commitment to preserving the stories of our past and sharing them with the leaders of tomorrow,” said Joseph Corcoran, LHVA executive director. “This journey back in time is more than just facts and figures — it’s experiencing history in a way that leaves a lasting impression.”