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New land preserved in Scranton

There’s one way to see the new over 400-acre swath of preserved land in Scranton, but you have to hang onto your nickels.

"It's a famous trolley expression," said Jim Kosydar, the conductor of the Electric City Trolley. "It was the original fair on the trolley car, a nickel."

Kosydar guided a group from the PA Greenways and Trails Summit on the route of the Laurel Line, which ran between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. The ride on the 97-year-old trolley went past an old gate to the Dunmore Shafts, a coal mine that closed in 1900, and through a one-mile 118 year-old tunnel under South Scranton.

A group walks over a make-shift railroad tie bridge to learn about the newest piece of land added to the Pinchot State Forest in Scranton.
Kat Bolus
A group walks over a make-shift railroad tie bridge to learn about the newest piece of land added to the Pinchot State Forest in Scranton.

The group stepped out of the trolley and onto the newest addition to the Pinchot State Forest.

The Conservation Fund purchased the land from the late Anthony J. Rinaldi, a local businessman and community developer. Over the past 30 years, the national nonprofit has helped conserve 1.8 million acres of land throughout the country.

"All of the property we're on, all the state forest you see here, lies within the limits of Scranton City," said Nicholas Lylo, District Forester for the Pinchot Forest District.

Parts of the forest are in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming Counties. Over 2,000 acres are within the city limits.

According to the Conservation Fund, the land provides habitats for various wildlife, including several species of songbirds and butterflies and larger mammals like white-tailed deer and foxes. They’ve been displaced by development along the Interstate 81 corridor.

The land on East Mountain was once owned by the Lackawanna Coal and Iron Company, said Bernie McGurl, executive director of the Lackawanna River Conservation Association. There was iron ore in the rock. Stafford Meadow Brook runs along the trolley line.

"That was the genesis of a lot of the industrialization of the region," McGurl said.

The land is now open to the public for non-motorized recreational activities such as hiking, bird watching and picnicking, according to the Conservation Fund.

“Outdoor recreation is a key component of quality of life in Scranton, and the city can’t do it all alone,” said Scranton Mayor Paige G. Cognetti. “This is an exciting development ... The addition of the Laurel Line Forest to Pinchot State Forest will expand recreational options on East Mountain.”

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.