Labor and Industry Heritage Markers
Click on the letter corresponding to the county you are interested in.
Markers are listed alphabetically within each county.
Anthracite Mine Disaster
On the morning of April 7, 1911, the nearby Pancoast mine here in Throop was the scene of a disastrous fire. Seventy-two miners died by suffocation, and a government rescue worker also was killed. This tragedy soon led to the enactment, on June 15, of state legislation requiring that all interior buildings at coal mines be constructed of incombustible materials.
Location: In front of Throop Borough Bldg., Charles St. and Sanderson Ave., Throop
First Electric Cars
The first street car system in the U.S. built entirely for operation by electric power was at Scranton. It began operation on Nov. 30, 1886. The initial run was between central Scranton and Green Ridge section.
Location: Courthouse Square, Adams & Spruce Sts., Scranton
The first business venture of the noted speculator and railroad manipulator was in this village, then called Gouldsboro. Here, 1856-61, he owned a large tannery with Zaddock Pratt. The tannery profits became the basis of his fortune.
Location: River & Locust Ridge Rds., Thornhurst
Iron was forged in Slocum Hollow by 1797. Nearby are remains of Lackawanna Iron Co. works begun 1840 by Scranton and associates. Iron rails for the Erie R.R. were made here, 1847. Steelmaking begun in 1875. Closed in 1902.
Location: Cedar Ave. near Lackawanna Ave., Scranton
On the south bank of the Lackawanna River opposite this spot was located the iron forge built 1789 by Dr. William Smith and James Sutton. This was the region's oldest forge, after which the town was named.
Location: S. Main St. (SR 3013) at Lonesome Rd., Old Forge
Terence V. Powderly
Noted labor leader. Born Jan. 22, 1849, in Carbondale. Grand Master Workman of the Knights of Labor, 1879-93. Scranton’s Mayor, 1878-84. Later Federal immigration official. Died in 1924. His home was near here.
Location: N. Main Ave. Near Mears St., West Scranton
Thomas J. Foster
Pioneer in education by mail, editor, publisher, veteran, was born Pottsville, January 1, 1843. Founded the "World Schoolhouse," the International Correspondence Schools, in 1891. An early advocate of mine safety laws. Died in Scranton, October 14, 1936.
Location: Wyoming Ave. near Ash St., Scranton
Francis Bailey, official printer to both the U. S. Congress and the Commonwealth, operated a printing office on this site from 1773 to 1780. Here, he produced many historical imprints including Thomas Paine's "Crisis No. 4."
Location: 14 W. King St., Lancaster
The famed glassmaker and ironmaster of colonial days founded Manheim in 1762, and set up his glassworks in 1764. He gave land for the Luthern Church which still pays his heirs one red rose a year.
Location: PA 72 at square in Manheim
Product of this Conestoga Valley. Developed here in mid-18th century by local wagon makers, this vehicle of empire was the freight carrier of frontier days, and was the ancestor of the prairie schooner.
Location: PA 462 (old S 30), .8 mile E of Lancaster
First commercial telegraph line in the U.S. ran along this railroad right-of-way. Completed from Lancaster to Harrisburg, 1845. The first message, "Why don't you write, you rascals?", was received, Jan. 8, 1846.
Location: PA 230, 3.1 miles SE of Elizabethtown
Hopewell Forge Mansion
Built c. 1740 by Peter Grubb, pioneer ironmaster at nearby Cornwall Furnace, and named for the Upper and Lower Hopewell Forges located on Hammer Creek near the house. Remnants of the forge dams may still be seen in the creek.
Location: UC 322, 2 miles W of Brickerville
Martin Meylin's Gunshop
Old gunshop, built in 1719, is located about one mile northeast. Here, before 1745, the earliest known Pennsylvania Rifle, misnamed Kentucky Rifle, was made. Building is marked with a tablet.
Location: US 322 at junction PA 272 northbound near Willow Street
Misnamed Kentucky Rifle, this famous weapon of the frontier was developed in the 1700's at Lancaster, which was the center for its manufacture.
Location 1: PA 23 (Marietta Ave.) near W end of Lancaster
Location 2: PA 462 (old US 30), .8 mile E of Lancaster
Steigel Glass Manufactory
On this site, from 1763 to 1774, "Baron" Henry William Stiegel made the glass for which he is famous. Erected in 1763, the buidling was torn down in 1813.
Location: 102 W. Stiegel St., Manheim
Lawyer, congressman, defender of free public schools, abolitionist, lies buried in the rear of this cemetery. He believed in the "Equality of man before his Creator." Resided in Lancaster from 1842 until his death, 1868.
Location: W. Chestnut St. at Shreiner's Cemetery, Lancaster
One of the best surviving structures of its type. Original east end built about 1725 by Benjamin Witmer, agent for the London Land Company. Passed onto his son, tavernkeeper John Witmer. Enlarged by Henry Witmer, 1773. Family was prominent in many early enterprises, including the Philadelphia-Lancaster Turnpike (1792), bridge over the Conestoga (1800), and first Columbia-Wrightsville bridge (1812).
Location: PA 340 (2014 Old Philadelphia Pike) just E of junction US 30
Seamless Tube Industry
A block away was the plant in which Ralph C. Stiefel, the Swiss-born engineer, invented the rotary piercing process for making steel tubing, 1895. He helped found Ellwood Weldless Tube Co., which became a nucleus for National Tube Div. of U.S. Steel.
Location: PA 351, Lawrence Ave. at 7th St., Ellwood City
Warner Brothers' First Theater
An early milestone for the Warners' film empire was the operation by Harry, Sam, and Albert Warner of a theater here, 1906-07. It seated 99 persons, who could view three movies for a nickel. Sixteen years later, Warner Bros. Pictures was established.
Location: 11-15 South Mill St., New Castle
One of the world’s greatest iron mines, oldest operated continuously in the New World. It has been mined for more than two centuries, and is still the greatest iron ore deposit east of Lake Superior.
Location: Boyd St., at now abandoned mine, Cornwall
The oldest fully preserved example of the early iron furnaces of Pennsylvania is a few miles away at Cornwall. In blast from 1742 to 1883, the works are now a State historical shrine. Nearby ore banks have been mined since 1756.
Location: US 422 at W end Annville
Charcoal iron furnace built by Peter Grubb, operated 1742-1883. Best surviving example of the early Pennsylvania ironworks. Now a State historical shrine, gift of Mrs. Margaret Coleman Buckingham, heir of its famous owner, Robert Coleman.
Location 1: Boyd St. (old US 322) in Cornwall
Location 2: Rexmont Rd. at site
Grubb's First Forge
Peter Grubb (c. 1700-54) carried on his initial efforts at iron-making in 1735 just slightly to the north. He used the Catalan-type forge which had originated in Spain sometime during the tenth century.
Location: Boyd St. & Gold Rd., Miners' Village, Cornwall
Schaefferstown Water Company
One of North America's oldest documented public water systems. Alexander Schaeffer built a hotel on the square in 1744, and construction of the water system began here shortly after. On July 16, 1763, he and his wife Anna Engle deeded this land -- today Fountain Park -- for the use of the inhabitants of Market Street. The present company was chartered in 1845 as successor to The Fountain Company of Heidelberg.
Location: Fountain Park at S. Market St., Schaefferstown
Site of a charcoal iron forge begun about 1782 by Curtis Grubb, owner of Cornwall Iron Furnace. Such forges transformed brittle pig iron into workable wrought iron. Union Forge, a major user of Cornwall iron, was in regular operation until 1868. By then, rolling mills were displacing forges as refiners of iron.
Location: SR 1020 just E of PA 72, Lickdale
First structure, a grist mill, was built about 1752. Starting 1801, Frederick Biery developed the area commercially; erected several landmark stone buildings. This is the oldest part of Catasauqua (incorporated 1853) which was an early home to the anthracite iron industry.
Location: Corner Race & Lehigh Sts., Catasauqua
Crane Iron Works
The first long-term commercially successful anthracite iron furnace opened July 4, 1840, here in Catasauqua. Built for the Lehigh Crane Iron Co. by David Thomas, it soon made 50-60 tons of pig iron a week. By 1868 the works had six furnaces; production ceased, 1930.
Location: Front St. between Church and Willow Sts., Catasauqua
Dery Silk Mill
Here was D. George Dery's first Pennsylvania silk mill, built 1897 and later enlarged. By 1914, Dery had 15 mills in this state and one in Massachusetts, employing some 4000 people; was considered the world's largest individual silk manufacturer. Operations ceased, 1923.
Location: 101 Race Street, Catasauqua
David O. Saylor was the first to make portland cement in the United States, at Coplay in 1871. First use of the rotary kiln to manufacture cement on a commercial scale was also here, Nov. 8, 1889.
Location: Opposite Coplay Cement office bldg. at Coplay
Slatington has been one of the centers of the slate industry since about 1845. From here came slate for roofs and old-time school slates and pencils, helping maintain the state as leading slate producer.
Location: PA 873 in Slatington
Abijah Smith & Company
Established 1807 by Abijah Smith, who had bought 75 acres here on Ransom Creek and was later joined by his brother John. Their shipments of coal by ark down the Susquehanna, begun in 1807, continued for 20 years. This company was, in 1818, the first to extract Pennsylvania coal by powder blasting. In the same family almost 70 years, it was considered the first commercially successful U.S. anthracite firm.
Location: US 11 (Main St.) at State Armory, Plymouth
Avondale Mine Disaster
On September 6, 1869, a fire broke out at the Avondale Colliery a mile from here, trapping the miners. The eventual death toll was 110. This included five boys between the ages of twelve and seventeen, and two volunteers who were suffocated during their attempt at rescue. As a result of this disaster, Pennsylvania's General Assembly enacted legislation in 1870 in an effort to bring greater safety to the industry.
Location: Plymouth Twp. Municipal Bldg., 925 W. Main St. (Rt. 11), Plymouth
Avondale Mine Disaster
On September 6, 1869, a fire broke out at the nearby Avondale Colliery, trapping the miners. The eventual death toll was 110. This included five boys between the ages of twelve and seventeen, and two volunteers who were suffocated while attempting rescue. As a result of this disaster, Pennsylvania's General Assembly enacted legislation in 1870 which was designed to enforce greater safety in the industry.
Location: US 11 near junction PA 29, Plymouth Twp.
Concrete City notable for early use of International Style achitectural concepts in creating "model" industrial housing. Located ¼ mile north of here. The homes, built by the D L & W Railroad's Coal Division for forty Truesdale Colliery employees, were opened in 1913. Constructed of poured concrete, the twenty two-story rectangular double houses surrounded a park. Controlled by the Glen Alden Coal Company after 1921; abandoned in 1924.
Location: Front St. in Hanover section of Nanticoke
Erie Railroad Co. V. Tompkins
In a landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1938 that, in cases between citizens of different states, federal courts must apply state common law, not federal "general common law." Under Pennsylvania common law, Harry Tompkins of Hughestown lost his case against the Erie Railroad, a New York State company. Tompkins had been struck by an unsecured door of a passing train and severely injured near this spot on July 27, 1934.
Location: Rock St., Catholic Church, Hughstown
At his tavern here on Feb. 11, 1808, Fell burned "stone coal" successfully in an open grate. This famed experiement spurred the rise of the anthracite industry & the Wyoming Valley's growth. He was a judge, 1798-1830; first burgess of Wilkes-Barre.
Location: Corner of Northampton and S Washington St., Wilkes-Barre
Knox Mine Disaster
On January 22, 1959, twelve men died in a tragic accident at the River Slope Mine near this site. The mine had been illegally excavated beneath the Susquehanna River at the direction of the Knox Coal Company. When the force of the ice-laden river broke the thin layer of rock, over ten billion gallons of water flowed through this and other mines. This disaster ended deep mining in much of the Wyoming Valley.
Location: St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church on Main St. Port Griffith, Jenkins Twp.
Near here at Harwood, on Sept. 10, 1897, immigrant coal miners on strike began a march for higher wages and equal rights. Unarmed, they were fired upon at Lattimer by sheriff's deputies. Nineteen marchers - Polish, Slovac, and Lithuanian - were killed. The majority of the dead were buried in St. Stanislaus Cemetery, Hazleton. Others were interred in St. Joseph's & Vine Street Cemeteries, Hazleton, and in St. Patrick Cemetery, McAdoo.
Location: Route 934 E, Harwood
Here on September 10, 1897, nearly 400 immigrant coal miners on strike were met and fired upon by sheriff's deputies. Unarmed, they were marching from Harwood to Lattimer in support of higher wages and more equitable working conditions. Nineteen of the marchers were killed, and 38 were wounded. This was one of the most serious acts of violence in American labor history.
Location: Off SR 3028 (former LR 40088) ca. .5 miles E of Lattimer Crossroads, Lattimer
Formed September 25, 1786 from Northumberland County. Named for Chevalier de la Luzerne. Wilkes-Barre, the county seat was settled 1769. A center of the Yankee-Pennamite Wars (begun 1769) and 1902 Anthracite Strike, conflicts that changed America.
Location: Courthouse, N. River St., Wilkes-Barre
Rev. John J. Curran (1859-1936)
Founding pastor of Holy Saviour Parish in 1895. Known as the labor priest, he championed the workers' cause and was instrumental in settling the Anthracite Strike of 1902. He was a friend of Theodore Roosevelt, who visited here often.
Location: Holy Saviour Church, 43 Penn St., Wilkes-Barre
Rev. Joseph Murgas
Pioneeer in development of overland wireless telegraphy. In 1898 he began his experiments on these grounds. His first public transmission of sound was made here on Nov. 23, 1905. Pastor, artist, biologist, and a supporter of Slovak aspirations, he died 1929.
Location: Sacred Heart Church, 601 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre
Automobile pioneer, best known for building a 3-wheel, 1-cylinder vehicle here, 1887-88, and operating it on Plymouth's streets. His machine shop, incorporated 1888, was an early bicycle maker; the firm was located here for over 80 years.
Location: W. Main St., Plymouth
Twin Shaft Disaster
On June 28, 1896, fifty-eight men were killed in a massive cave-in of rock and coal here, in the Newton Coal Company's Twin Shaft Colliery. An investigative commission, appointed by the Governor, reported on Sept. 25. Although its safety recommendations would often be ignored, the disaster was a factor that led to a stronger unionization of this region under John Mitchell after 1900.
Location: N. Main and Union Sts., Pittson
Wyoming Division Canal
Built by the State of Pennsylvania, 1831-34, this canal opened the Wyoming Valley's anthracite field to the mid-Atlantic coal trade. Along with the railroads, it ultimately enabled this valley to become the world's largest anthracite coal producer. Part of the North Branch Canal, the line ran 17 miles from West Nanticoke to Pittston; a public boat basin was on this site. The Wyoming division closed in 1882.
Location: N. River and E. Jackson Sts., Wilkes-Barre
German-born publisher of the Sunday Grit, for many years a national "family newspaper." He founded it in 1882; this site was its home after 1889. He built grit on a "good news" concept, an appeal to rural tastes, and a nationwide network of young carriers.
Location: W. 3rd & Williams Sts., Williamsport
The nearby memorial is at the site of this valley's first grist mill. It was built by John Alward about 1772 and burned by Indians 1779. Other mills built on the site in 1783 and 1800. Last mill was used until 1872.
Location: Junction PA 405 & 442 E of Muncy
Owner, lumber mills, and president, Susquehanna Boom. A key player in making this city the "lumber capital of the world." He invented the "herdic," a rear-entry carriage, and erected many buildings here on Millionaire's Row. His 1854 home is No. 407.
Location: 107 W. 4th St., Williamsport
Susquehanna Log Boom
Six-mile series of piers, built by a company incorporated in 1846; used to collect and store logs during the spring log drives down the West Branch. Helped make Williamsport the world's lumber capital prior to 1900. Badly damaged in 1889 flood, the boom declined thereafter.
Location: US 15 just S of Williamsport