The 2018 Road, Day 19: A Steamtown Experience, Part 1- The Hill District


June 13, 2018, Scranton-

At least once, during a cross-country sojourn, I like to spend at least a few hours in a city which has contributed to the economic and material well-being of our nation.  In the past, this has led me to Oakland, St. Louis, Des Moines, Kokomo, South Bend and Canton, Ohio, to say nothing of Chicago, Boston, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Today, this meant several hours in Scranton, northeast Pennsylvania’s commercial and industrial hub, and the center of the steam locomotive industry in the U.S., particularly during the 19th Century.  Prior to locomotives, Scranton and nearby Wilkes-Barre were important centers for coal mining.  Anthracite, or hard coal, was abundant in northeast Pennsylvania, and provided the fuel by which steam could be produced, thus being the impetus for the steam locomotive industry-major to the transcontinental railroads, which have moved a major part of passenger and freight traffic, to this day.

I began my visit with a walk around the Hill neighbourhood, on the west end of downtown.  David Spencer bestowed the moniker, Electric City, upon Scranton, in 1886. Many of the large buildings of this side of downtown were among the first in the nation to rely exclusively on incandescent lighting.

Here are some of those fine structures.  The churches reflect the ethnic diversity of those who came to dig coal and to help build the railroads.


Above is St. Nicholas’ Eastern Orthodox Church, which began serving Russian and Serbian miners, in the latter Nineteenth Century.


Covenant Presbyterian Church was established by Scottish and Scots-Irish immigrants.


Spacious St. Matthew’s United Evangelical Lutheran Church reflects the central European architectural style of its German adherents.


This unmarked building, west of St. Nicholas’ Church, is nonetheless impressive.


Prominent, and well-marked, is St. Peter’s Cathedral, with Scranton City Hall in the background.


This fascinating private home is certainly well-insulated.


This is the Administration Building of Scranton School District.  There is a history of inventive minds coming out of the Lackawanna Valley.  This district’s mission is that this will long continue.


Adjacent to the District Office is Lackawanna County Public Library’s Main Branch, and, to the Library’s right, Scranton City Hall.


Here is a closer view of St. Peter’s Cathedral.  Downtown is bordered, at the east end, by the yards of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad.  The regional commuter trains’ main terminus is here:


I hopped the tracks and continued slightly northeast, to the locomotives’ well-deserved resting place.


NEXT: Steamtown National Historic Site


The Road to 65, Mile 195: Southeast IS Northwest, Day Four- Juneau


June 11, 2015, Juneau- There is no such thing as a wasted day, unless one revels in wastefulness.  Rain fell, constantly, during my first full day in the Alaskan capital.  One must take what is, however, and so I first headed over to the nearest coffee house:  Heritage Coffee, in the heart of downtown.  I had about 1 1/2 hours of wi fi, for the price of coffee and a scone, before whoever runs the wifi pulled the plug, and I moved on.


Thus, I took in the fullness of downtown Juneau, and gradually moved uphill.


St. Nicholas Orthodox Church became a refuge for the Tlingit people, in the 1880’s and ’90’s, when American Christian groups insisted they give up their language and customs.  The Russian Orthodox missionaries made no such demand.  Therefore, the community remains strong in Juneau.

The Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary has thrived, since the Catholics learned from the success of their Orthodox neighbours.  In truth, the only way to really reach people, especially in spiritual matters, is through their hearts.IMG_0972

The Alaska State Capitol is under renovation now, so no one is allowed inside, as a visitor.  It is one of the most utilitarian, and unadorned of the state capitols, which suits me, and most Alaskans, just fine.


All this going back and forth was leading me to check my watch, and, yes, it was lunch time.  So, off to Rainbow Foods, the local natural foods market, I went.  Some of my fellow hostelers were stunned, STUNNED, that I didn’t go to Fred Meyer or IGA.  As capable as the chain stores may be, local has more of the ambiance I seek.


After the lunchtime interlude, I checked out Wickersham House, the early Twentieth Century home of a local judge, and his multi-talented second wife, who built strong, respectful relationships with the Tlingit and Haida people. The house is an Alaskan State Historic Site, and much of the judge’s native arts collection is preserved here.  Note the basketry, figurines and scrimshawed whale bone, below.



Next up, was a ninety-minute spiritual study with some local friends, then it was off to the heights above Juneau, with the hardiest of their number.


Our goal was Ebner Falls, which can be seen from a distance, below.





Above Ebner Falls, there rises Mount Juneau, accessible by a muddy path.


The rain was our companion, all during this hike, but the falls are a greater attraction than the precipitation was a deterrent. I went with my friend, Dave P., to his boat, to prepare it for tomorrow’s expedition.  After pizza and salad, with Dave and his wife, my evening was occupied with  helping a young friend to heal herself, with the help of some essential oils.