It’s an exciting era for the City of Carbondale!
The Carbondale Riverwalk, the next project for the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail, will be part of the city’s renaissance. As community leaders work to attract new businesses and increase tourism, the Best Western Pioneer Plaza, a new hotel and conference center on Main Street, and other successful community events, such as Pioneer Nights Ethnic Heritage Festival in early August are, are creating a new buzz. Many businesses have upgraded their facades, new sidewalks have been installed, and the town has a bright future!
The Carbondale Riverwalk, a 2-mile section of the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail (LRHT), will run through the heart of the city’s downtown, utilizing streets and railroad corridors to connect commerce with nature. The former railyard for the Delaware and Hudson and the old Ontario and Western Railroad corridors will be transformed into trail for providing recreational, fitness and social opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds.
The trailhead will be have easy access to and from the Greater Carbondale YMCA, . The trail will accommodate people of all athletic abilities as well, from the experienced Steamtown Marathon runner to the casual walker communing with nature. It will be ADA compliant. On the east side of the Lackawanna River, a dual surface trail will feature a 10-foot wide paved path adjacent to a 6-foot wide packed stone surface. The west side of the river will feature a 10-foot wide paved path.
Designed not only for walkers and runners, the trail also will be suitable for bicycling and cross-country skiing, and it will serve as an access point for fishing and canoeing in the river. The Carbondale section is sure to be a venue for organized groups of runners, walkers and bicycle enthusiasts. It is expected that the Carbondale Riverwalk, like the Taylor, Scranton, Archbald and Jermyn sections, will be the site of nature walks, educational activities, community and heritage festivals, and art on the trail. With the Carbondale YMCA in such close proximity to the trail, new opportunities will be available for children’s programming, and residents of the senior center next to the trail will enjoy a variety of social opportunities.
The Carbondale Riverwalk also will provide an easy alternative path to work and school for Carbondale residents. Since the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail is also a linear interpretive park, with signage that will educate the public of the region’s history and heritage, users will learn about the many noteworthy points of interest along the way, pointing out Carbondale’s rich heritage, including the City Hall and Courthouse. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Romanesque landmark of brick and bluestone dates back to 1894, and it houses the city’s municipal government and the Carbondale Historical Society. Another interesting site is the Ben Mar, the location of the former headquarters of the Delaware and Hudson Railroad which became the first commercially successful railroad to operate in America, carrying anthracite coal from the valley to New York City. The Klots Throwing Company, now Gentex Corporation, is another important site. The Klots manufactured silk from 1894 to 1918, employing the wives and daughters of local anthracite coal miners. Gentex is one of the county’s largest employers, and it is curently operated by the fourth generation of the Frieder family, having evolved from manufacturing silk products, such as parachutes, to the high tech development and production of helmets and other equipment for the military.
The D&H Diesel Repair Shops and the Carbondale Rail Yard are also significant historical sites along the trail. Built in the first quarter of the 20th century, the repair shops maintained the diesel locomotives purchased by D&H in 1944. Today, it is the site of a recycling company. The Carbondale Rail Yard was the main terminal for the D & H, serving as the city’s pipeline to deliver coal to a wide variety of markets.
When the Lackawanna Heritage Valley hosted a conference called “Trails to Prosperity” this past June, attendees learned about the remarkable impact that trails have had on other communities in the nation, where they attracted new companies, improved health and wellness, and experienced important economic development. People and businesses want to be where there is a good quality of life! Communities with well developed trail systems are successful places where people come to visit, shop, dine and stay.
The Carbondale Riverwalk Project is an exciting endeavor that will accomplish these goals. After years in the making, the project is in the early stages of design, and construction is expected to begin in the Spring of 2015. Watch for updates!