Luzerne County, Pennsylvania

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Luzerne County, Pennsylvania
Luzerne County, Pennsylvania seal.png
Luzerne County, Pennsylvania USGS Topographical Map.jpg
Topographical map of Luzerne County
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County.svg
Location in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania
Country Flag of the United States.svg  United States of America
State Flag of Pennsylvania.svg  Pennsylvania
Region Northeastern Pennsylvania
Metro area Wyoming Valley
FormedSeptember 25, 1786
Named for Chevalier de la Luzerne
County seat Wilkes-Barre
Largest cityWilkes-Barre
  Type Council–manager
   Council Chair Tim McGinley (D)
   Manager C. David Pedri
  Total906 sq mi (2,350 km2)
  Land890 sq mi (2,300 km2)
  Water16 sq mi (40 km2)
Highest elevation
2,460 ft (750 m)
Lowest elevation
512 ft (156 m)
  Density350/sq mi (140/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
  Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Area code(s) 570/272

Luzerne County is a county in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 906 square miles (2,350 km2), of which 890 square miles (2,300 km2) is land and 16 square miles (41 km2) is water. It is Northeastern Pennsylvania's second-largest county by total area. As of the 2010 census, the population was 320,918, making it the most populous county in the northeastern part of the state. The county seat and largest city is Wilkes-Barre. [1] Other populous communities include Hazleton, Kingston, Nanticoke, and Pittston. Luzerne County is included in the Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a total population of 555,426 (as of 2017).

County (United States) Subdivision used by most states in the United States of America

In the United States, a county is an administrative or political subdivision of a state that consists of a geographic region with specific boundaries and usually some level of governmental authority. The term "county" is used in 48 U.S. states, while Louisiana and Alaska have functionally equivalent subdivisions called parishes and boroughs, respectively.

Pennsylvania U.S. state in the United States

Pennsylvania, officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a state located in the Northeastern, Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The Appalachian Mountains run through its middle. The Commonwealth is bordered by Delaware to the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie and the Canadian province of Ontario to the northwest, New York to the north, and New Jersey to the east.

United States Census Bureau Bureau of the United States responsible for the census and related statistics

The United States Census Bureau is a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System, responsible for producing data about the American people and economy. The Census Bureau is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce and its director is appointed by the President of the United States.


On September 25, 1786, Luzerne County was formed from part of Northumberland County. It was named after Chevalier de la Luzerne, a French soldier and diplomat during the 18th century. When it was founded, Luzerne County occupied a large portion of Northeastern Pennsylvania. From 1810 to 1878, it was divided into several smaller counties. The counties of Bradford, Lackawanna, Susquehanna, and Wyoming were all formed from parts of Luzerne County. [2] [3]

Northumberland County, Pennsylvania County in the United States

Northumberland County is a county located in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the population was 94,528. Its county seat is Sunbury. The county was formed in 1772 from parts of Lancaster, Berks, Bedford, Cumberland, and Northampton Counties and named for the county of Northumberland in northern England. Northumberland County is a fifth class county according to the Pennsylvania's County Code.

French Royal Army (1652–1830)

The French Royal Army served the Bourbon kings beginning with Louis XIV and ending with Charles X with an interlude from 1792 until 1814, during the French Revolution and the reign of the Emperor Napoleon I. After a second, brief interlude when Napoleon returned from exile in 1815, the Royal Army was reinstated. Its service to the direct Bourbon line was finished when Charles X was overthrown in 1830 by the July Revolution.

Diplomat person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization

A diplomat is a person appointed by a State or an intergovernamental institution such as the United Nations or the European Union to conduct diplomacy with one or more other States or international organizations. The main functions of diplomats are: representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending State; initiation and facilitation of strategic agreements; treaties and conventions; promotion of information; trade and commerce; technology; and friendly relations. Seasoned diplomats of international repute are used in international organizations as well as multinational companies for their experience in management and negotiating skills. Diplomats are members of foreign services and diplomatic corps of various nations of the world.

The county gained prominence in the 19th and 20th centuries as an active anthracite coal mining region, drawing a large portion of its labor force from European immigrants. At its peak (in 1930), the county's population was 445,109. By the early 21st century, many factories and coal mines were closed. Like most counties in the Rust Belt, Luzerne witnessed population loss and urban decay.

Coal Region

The Coal Region is a historically important coal-mining area in Northeastern Pennsylvania in the central Ridge-and-valley Appalachian Mountains, comprising Lackawanna, Luzerne, Columbia, Carbon, Schuylkill, Northumberland, and the extreme northeast corner of Dauphin counties. Academics have made the distinction North Anthracite Coal Field and South Anthracite Coal Field, the lower region bearing the further classification Anthracite Uplands in physical geology. The Southern Coal Region can be further broken into the Southeastern and Southwestern Coal Regions, with the divide between the Little Schuylkill and easternmost tributary of the Schuylkill River with the additional divide line from the Lehigh watershed extended through Barnesville the determining basins.

1930 United States Census National census

The Fifteenth United States Census, conducted by the Census Bureau one month from April 1, 1930, determined the resident population of the United States to be 122,775,046, an increase of 13.7 percent over the 106,021,537 persons enumerated during the 1920 Census.

Rust Belt Region in the US affected by industrial decline

The Rust Belt is a term, sometimes considered pejorative, for an informal region of the United States that experienced industrial decline starting around 1980. It is made up mostly of places in the Midwest and Great Lakes, though definitions vary. Rust refers to the deindustrialization, or economic decline, population loss, and urban decay due to the shrinking of its once-powerful industrial sector. The term gained popularity in the U.S. in the 1980s.


The Luzerne County Historical Society maintains the storehouse for the collective memory of Luzerne County and its environs. It records and interprets the history, traditions, events, people, and cultures that have directed and molded life within the region. [4]

The Luzerne County Historical Society is one of the oldest continually operating local historical societies in America. It was founded on February 11, 1858, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the first successful burning of anthracite coal by Jesse Fell, and was originally named the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society. The organization operates the historic Swetland Homestead in Wyoming, Pennsylvania and the Luzerne County Museum which also features a separate research library in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. It also administers the Nathan Denison house.

18th century

A map of Native American tribes before European arrival. Early Localization Native Americans NY.svg
A map of Native American tribes before European arrival.
A map of Pennsylvania and the competing land claims. Penncolony.png
A map of Pennsylvania and the competing land claims.
Battle of Wyoming (1778) ChappelWyomingMassacre.jpg
Battle of Wyoming (1778)
A map of Pennsylvania in 1792. At the time, Bradford, Lackawanna, Susquehanna, and Wyoming were still part of Luzerne County. A Map Of The State Of Pennsylvania by Reading Howell, 1792.jpg
A map of Pennsylvania in 1792. At the time, Bradford, Lackawanna, Susquehanna, and Wyoming were still part of Luzerne County.

By the 1700s, the Wyoming Valley was inhabited by several Native American tribes (including the Susquehannock and the Delaware). In the mid-18th century, Connecticut settlers ventured into the valley. These were the first recorded Europeans in the region. Some came to conduct missionary work with the Native Americans, while others came to farm the fertile land near the Susquehanna River. Ultimately, the violence of the French and Indian War (the North American front of the Seven Years' War) drove these Connecticut settlers away. [5]

Wyoming Valley Metropolitan area in Pennsylvania, United States

The Wyoming Valley is a historic industrialized region of Northeastern Pennsylvania, once famous for fueling the industrial revolution in the United States with its many anthracite coal mines. As a metropolitan area, it is known as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metropolitan area, after its principal cities, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, and is the 97th-largest metropolitan area in the United States and the 4th largest in Pennsylvania. It makes up its own unique physiographic province, the Anthracite Valley, in the geology of Pennsylvania. Greater Pittston makes up the center of the valley. Scranton is the most populated city in the metropolitan area with a population of 77,114. The city of Scranton has grown in population after the 2015 mid term census while Wilkes-Barre has declined in population. Wilkes-Barre is still the second most populated city in the metropolitan area and Hazleton is third. The airports for this area are Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (Avoca) and the Wilkes-Barre Wyoming Valley Airport.

Native Americans in the United States Indigenous peoples of the United States (except Hawaii)

Native Americans, also known as American Indians, Indigenous Americans and other terms, are the indigenous peoples of the United States, except Hawaii and territories of the United States. More than 570 federally recognized tribes live within the US, about half of which are associated with Indian reservations. The term "American Indian" excludes Native Hawaiians and some Alaskan Natives, while "Native Americans" are American Indians, plus Alaska Natives of all ethnicities. The US Census does not include Native Hawaiians or Chamorro, instead being included in the Census grouping of "Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander".

Susquehannock group of indigenous people native to North America

Template:Info-box ethnic group

The British colonies of Pennsylvania and Connecticut claimed the Wyoming Valley as their own. King Charles II of England had granted the land to the Colony of Connecticut in 1662, and also to William Penn (the founder of Pennsylvania) in 1681. This led to a series of military skirmishes known as the Pennamite-Yankee Wars. By 1769, Yankee settlers from Connecticut returned to the valley and founded the town of Wilkes-Barre. However, they were not alone. Pennsylvanians (Pennamites) were also in the region. The armed bands of Pennsylvanians harassed the Connecticut settlers. While the land dispute continued, a much larger conflict began. The Thirteen Colonies were waging a war of independence against Great Britain (the mother country). Both Pennsylvania and Connecticut were loyal to the cause of American independence.

British colonization of the Americas American Colonies of England and then Great Britain and the United Kingdom

British colonization of the Americas began in 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia, and reached its peak when colonies had been established throughout the Americas. The English, and later the British, were among the most important colonizers of the Americas, and their American empire came to surpass the Spanish American colonies in military and economic might.

Province of Pennsylvania English, from 1707, British, possession in North America between 1681 and 1776

The Province of Pennsylvania, also known as the Pennsylvania Colony, was founded in English North America by William Penn on March 4, 1681 as dictated in a royal charter granted by King Charles II. The name Pennsylvania, which translates roughly as "Penn's Woods", was created by combining the Penn surname with the Latin word sylvania, meaning "forest land". The Province of Pennsylvania was one of the two major restoration colonies, the other being the Province of Carolina. The proprietary colony's charter remained in the hands of the Penn family until the American Revolution, when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was created and became one of the original thirteen states. "The lower counties on Delaware", a separate colony within the province, would breakaway during the American Revolution as "the Delaware State" and also be one of the original thirteen states.

Charles II of England 17th-century King of England, Ireland and Scotland

Charles II was king of England, Scotland, and Ireland. He was king of Scotland from 1649 until his deposition in 1651, and king of England, Scotland and Ireland from the 1660 Restoration of the monarchy until his death.

On June 30, 1778, British (Tory) forces, under the command of Colonel John Butler, arrived in the Wyoming Valley to confront the American settlers. The following day — July 1 — the American militia at Fort Wintermute (Wintermoot) surrendered. Several miles away, Fort Jenkins (a Patriot stockade in present-day West Pittston) also capitulated. It was later burned to the ground. [6]

On July 3, the British spotted the American militia near Forty Fort. Butler wanted to lure the Americans away from their fortifications. He ordered for Fort Wintermute to be set ablaze. The Patriots, believing it signified a British retreat, advanced rapidly. British soldiers, with the assistance of about 700 Native Americans, ambushed the oncoming American militia. In the end, nearly 300 Wyoming Valley settlers were killed in what would be known as the Wyoming Massacre. Today, in the Borough of Wyoming, a monument marks the gravesite of the victims from the battle. [7]

On July 4 — the following morning — the American colonel, Nathan Denison, agreed to surrender Forty Fort along with several other posts. A portion of Fort Pittston (located in present-day Pittston City) was destroyed when it surrendered to the British. Two years later, the Americans stormed the fortification and recaptured it. From then on, it was under Patriot control until the end of the war. [8]

In September 1778, revenge for the Wyoming defeat was taken by American Colonel Thomas Hartley. He and his 200 soldiers burned roughly one dozen Native American villages along the Susquehanna River (in both Pennsylvania and New York). [9]

Two years later, in September 1780, reports of British (Tory) activity in the region caused Captain Daniel Klader and a platoon of 40 to 50 Patriots (from Northampton County) to investigate. Captain Klader's men made it as far north as present-day Conyngham, when they were ambushed by the Seneca nation and the Tories. Eighteen of Klader's men were killed in what is now known as the Sugarloaf Massacre. [10]

The American Revolutionary War ended three years later (in 1783) with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. With the signing of the treaty, Great Britain finally recognized the sovereignty of the United States of America. Even though the War of Independence had concluded, the land dispute between Pennsylvania and Connecticut continued. Connecticut established its own county (by the name of Westmoreland) in the Wyoming Valley. However, Pennsylvania insisted that they owned the land. The Congress of the Confederation was asked to resolve the matter. With the Decree of Trenton, on December 30, 1782, the confederation government officially decided that the region belonged to Pennsylvania; the Wyoming Valley became part of Northumberland County.

Pennsylvania ruled that the Connecticut settlers (Yankees) were not citizens of the Commonwealth. Therefore, they could not vote and were ordered to give up their property claims. In May 1784, armed men from Pennsylvania force-marched the Connecticut settlers away from the valley. By November, the Yankees returned with a greater force. They captured and destroyed Fort Dickinson in Wilkes-Barre. With that victory, a new state (which was separate from both Connecticut and Pennsylvania) was proposed. The new state was to be named Westmoreland. To ensure that they didn't lose the land, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania worked out a compromise with the Connecticut (Yankee) settlers. The Yankee settlers would become citizens of Pennsylvania and their property claims would be restored (prior to the Decree of Trenton). As part of the compromise, Pennsylvania would establish a new county in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The Yankees agreed to the terms. [11]

On September 25, 1786, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed a resolution which created Luzerne County. It was formed from a section of Northumberland County and named after Chevalier de la Luzerne, a French soldier and diplomat during the 18th century. Wilkes-Barre became the seat of government for the new territory. This resolution ended the idea of creating a new state. When it was founded, Luzerne County occupied a large portion of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The future counties of Bradford, Lackawanna, Susquehanna, and Wyoming were all part of the original Luzerne County. [2] [3]

In the following years, elections were held, the courts were established, a courthouse was constructed, and a government was formed. In 1787, Lord Butler was elected the first sheriff of Luzerne County. A board of commissioners was also assembled to manage the county government. Some of the first county commissioners included Jesse Fell, Alexander Johnson, John Phillips, John Jenkins, and Thomas Wright (from 1794 to 1796). [12] The population of the new county grew rapidly. In 1790, fewer than 2,000 people resided within the Wyoming Valley. By 1800, that number increased to nearly 13,000. [13]

19th century

A coal breaker in Plymouth (built in 1869) Old Dodson Breaker.jpg
A coal breaker in Plymouth (built in 1869)
Photo taken just before the Lattimer massacre (1897) Lattimer massacre.jpg
Photo taken just before the Lattimer massacre (1897)

The county gained prominence in the 19th century as an active anthracite coal mining region. In 1791, German immigrant Philip Ginder stumbled across anthracite (or "hard coal") near Summit Hill. This resulted in the creation of the Lehigh Coal Mine Company. The company had a slow start because of the difficulty in igniting anthracite coal and the inability to transfer it to urban markets. In 1807, Brothers Abijah and John Smith were the first to successfully transport anthracite down the Susquehanna River on an ark. In 1808, Judge Jesse Fell of Wilkes-Barre discovered a solution to ignite anthracite with the usage of an iron grate; it allowed for the coal to light and burn easier. This invention increased the popularity of anthracite as a fuel source. This led to the expansion of the coal industry in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Throughout the 1800s, canals and railroads were constructed to aid in the mining and transportation of coal. [13]

As the mining industry grew, a large region north of the Wyoming Valley — close to the New York border — sought independence from Luzerne County. On February 21, 1810, the counties of Bradford — originally called Ontario — and Susquehanna were created from parts of Luzerne County. The two counties were officially formed in 1812. [14] [15] Thirty years later, on April 4, 1842, Wyoming County — the region in and around present-day Tunkhannock — was also formed from a section of Luzerne County. [16]

The County of Luzerne witnessed a population boom as a result of the growing coal mining industry. Carbondale, with a population of nearly 5,000 residents, was incorporated as a city on March 15, 1851. [17] Scranton, with a population of nearly 35,000, was incorporated as a city on April 23, 1866. [18] And Wilkes-Barre, with a population of just over 10,000, was incorporated as a city in 1871. [19] By 1875, anthracite coal from Luzerne County alone represented half the anthracite produced in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. [13]

Since 1839, the people in and around the cities of Scranton and Carbondale were seeking independence from Luzerne County. Wilkes-Barre was determined to preserve the integrity of the county; it did not want to lose its assets in the region. Decades later, in the 1870s, residents of the proposed territory were allowed to vote for independent status. Voters favored a new county by a proportion of 6 to 1, with Scranton residents providing considerable support. Lackawanna County was finally created from a portion of Luzerne County in 1878. [20]

Even through Luzerne County lost a vital region (the coal mining cities of Scranton and Carbondale), its boroughs and townships continued to grow. Hazleton (in 1891) [21] and Pittston (in 1894) were both incorporated as cities due to their expanding populations. Thousands of European immigrants poured into Luzerne County due to the booming coal industry. The growing population quickly attracted the attention of factory owners in New York City and Philadelphia. Dozens of factories throughout Luzerne County were established to take advantage of the ever-increasing pool of available labor.

With an increasing population and the build-up of industry in the region, tragedies became more frequent in the second half of the 19th century. Sixteen people were killed — largely in factories — when a devastating F3 tornado struck Wilkes-Barre on August 19, 1890. [22] It was the deadliest tornado in the county's history. [23] The region's first significant mining disaster occurred on September 6, 1869, when a massive fire at the Avondale Colliery in Plymouth Township killed 110 people. [24] Another consequential mining accident occurred on June 28, 1896, when the Newton Coal Company's Twin Shaft Mine in Pittston City caved-in and killed 58 miners. [25] [26]

Towards the end of the 19th century, labor unrest and union activity intensified in the region. Miners protested poor working conditions and unfair pay. This revved up tensions throughout the county. One of the most notable and deadly confrontations occurred on September 10, 1897 (near Hazleton). Luzerne County Sheriff James Martin formed a posse and fired on a group of unarmed striking miners in what is now known as the Lattimer Massacre. Roughly nineteen people were killed and dozens more were wounded. Luzerne is infamous for being the last county whose sheriff legally formed a posse to restore order in a time of civil unrest. [27]

The Wyoming Valley in the 1860s The Valley of Wyoming MET DT4598.jpg
The Wyoming Valley in the 1860s
Wilkes-Barre in 1872 Birds eye view of Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (2675064226).jpg
Wilkes-Barre in 1872
Hazleton in 1884 Hazleton (2674307151).jpg
Hazleton in 1884
Pittston in 1892 Pittston-1.jpg
Pittston in 1892

20th century

Children working in Wilkes-Barre's coal industry (1906) Child Labor in United States, coal mines Pennsylvania.jpg
Children working in Wilkes-Barre's coal industry (1906)
Breaker boys in Pittston (1911); the photo was taken by Lewis Hine Group of Breaker boys. Smallest is Sam Belloma.jpg
Breaker boys in Pittston (1911); the photo was taken by Lewis Hine
A historical marker of the 1919 Baltimore Colliery Disaster Baltimore Mine Tunnel Disaster marker.jpg
A historical marker of the 1919 Baltimore Colliery Disaster
Nanticoke in the first half of the 20th century. East Main Street, Nanticoke, Pa (79611).jpg
Nanticoke in the first half of the 20th century.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Luzerne County was in the midst of an economic boom. Industry, which included manufacturing and coal mining, drew thousands of immigrants (mostly from Europe) to the region. However, there were several drawbacks to the industrial boom. Labor unrest, mining accidents, and child labor were just a few problems facing the county. Labor disputes led to miners striking in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Great Strike of 1902 gained national attention when it threatened to shut down the winter fuel supply for major U.S. cities. At that time, residences were typically heated with anthracite (or "hard coal"). The United Mine Workers of America protested for higher wages, shorter workdays, and the recognition of their union. President Theodore Roosevelt became involved and set up a fact-finding commission that suspended the strike. The strike never resumed, as the miners received a ten percent wage increase and reduced workdays (from ten to nine hours). It was the first labor dispute in which the U.S. federal government intervened as a neutral arbitrator. [13]

Also, in the early 1900s, the anthracite coal mining industry — and its extensive use of child labor — was one of the industries targeted by the National Child Labor Committee and its hired photographer, Lewis Hine. Many of Hine's subjects were photographed in the mines and coal fields in and around Pittston and Wilkes-Barre. The impact of the Hine photographs led to the enactment of child labor laws across the country. [28]

Despite the better working conditions, industrial accidents were still commonplace. On December 6, 1915, an underground mine fire started in the Red Ash Coal Mine near the communities of Laurel Run and Georgetown. Hundreds of residents living near the mine fire were later relocated. The fire continued to burn well into the 21st century. [29] On June 5, 1919, another major mining accident occurred nearby. An explosion killed 92 miners at the Baltimore Colliery in Wilkes-Barre. [30]

Regardless of the industrial setbacks, the region continued to grow economically. In 1906, construction began on a new county courthouse in Wilkes-Barre. [31] Twenty years later (in 1926), Nanticoke, with a population of just over 22,000, was incorporated as a city. [32] It was the last city established in the county. By 1930, the county's population peaked at 445,109. It was obvious that industry was the driving force behind the expanding population. From the 1930s to the 1980s, Pittston City emerged as a national center for clothing manufacturing. Thousands of workers, mainly women, labored in many factories throughout the Greater Pittston area. Most were members of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU). It advocated for higher wages, improvements in workplace health and safety, and employee rights. The ILGWU was active in civic and political life throughout Pennsylvania. [33]

Railroad accidents were common throughout the United States in the 1800s and 1900s. In 1934, the right arm of Hughestown resident Harry Tompkins was crushed by an Erie Railroad train. This resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court case Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins , which laid the foundation for a large part of modern American civil procedure. [34]

As the United States entered the age of mass air transportation, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre (the largest cities in Northeast Pennsylvania) recognized the need for a large-scale airport. Despite the Great Depression and hard times affecting the local coal mining industry, a windfall multimillion-dollar opportunity to plan and build a regional airport was presented to the counties of Luzerne and Lackawanna through the federal government's Public Works Administration. It became apparent that a modern airport would be needed for the economic survival of the region. The site in and around Pittston Township was first surveyed in 1939 by the county commissioners of both counties.

In 1941, John B. McDade, president of the Heidelberg Coal Company and father of Congressman Joseph M. McDade, donated 122 acres on which part of the airport now sits. Most of the land was previously owned by various coal companies. By 1945, the two counties entered into a legal agreement to co-sponsor and operate the airport. Between 1945 and 1947, construction of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport took place in and around Pittston Township. Today, the airport is known as the "Gateway to Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Pocono Mountains." It is the fifth busiest airport in Pennsylvania.

By the mid-20th century, anthracite production was declining at a steady rate. Consumers were gradually switching from coal to other forms of energy (e.g., oil, gas, and electricity). The Knox Mine Disaster was the final blow to the industry. On January 22, 1959, the Susquehanna River broke through the River Slope Mine in Port Griffith, Jenkins Township; it claimed the lives of twelve people. In the following months, two of the area's largest coal companies announced a full withdrawal from the anthracite business. Thousands of jobs were lost and the mining industry never recovered in Luzerne County. [35]

The Wyoming Valley witnessed historical flooding from the Susquehanna River in the past. In June 1972, Hurricane Agnes devastated much of the Eastern Seaboard (including Pennsylvania). The Susquehanna River rose to 40.9 feet and breached the levees of several communities in the Wyoming Valley. In Wilkes-Barre, hundreds were trapped in their homes; nearly nine feet of water inundated Public Square. At the historic cemetery in Forty Fort, 2,000 caskets were washed away, leaving body parts on porches, roofs, and in basements. In Luzerne County alone, 25,000 homes and businesses were either damaged or destroyed. Losses in the county totaled $1 billion. [36]

Luzerne County's economy was hit hard with the collapse of the mining industry and the devastating Agnes flood. To make matters worse, factories throughout the county were shutting down. They could not compete with lower labor costs elsewhere. By the end of the 20th century, Luzerne County was in the midst of a recession.

Following the Agnes flood (from the 1980s to 2000), two notable tragedies occurred in Luzerne County. The first took place on September 25, 1982, when George Banks killed thirteen people in a shooting rampage in Wilkes-Barre and Jenkins Township. [37] The second incident took place on May 21, 2000, when a plane crash in Bear Creek Township (near the intersection of Bear Creek Boulevard — PA Route 115 — and the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike) killed the pilot as well as all nineteen passengers. [38]

21st century

Ashley's abandoned Huber coal breaker in 2008 Industry and Agriculture.jpg
Ashley's abandoned Huber coal breaker in 2008
Levees and temporary flood walls protected Wilkes-Barre from flooding in September 2011. Flood Walls on Market Street in Wilkes-Barre.jpg
Levees and temporary flood walls protected Wilkes-Barre from flooding in September 2011.

Many factories and coal mines were closed by the early 21st century. Like most regions in the Rust Belt, Luzerne County witnessed population loss and urban decay. However, in recent years, the economy has grown moderately; warehousing has replaced manufacturing as the main industry. [39]

In the late 2000s, scandal, corruption, cronyism, patronage hiring, wasteful spending, higher property taxes, and out-of-control debt plagued the county. [40] The "kids for cash" scandal unfolded in 2008 over judicial kickbacks at the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas in Wilkes-Barre. Two judges, President Judge Mark Ciavarella and Senior Judge Michael Conahan, were convicted of accepting money from Robert Mericle, builder of two private, for-profit youth centers for the detention of juveniles, in return for contracting with the facilities and imposing harsh adjudications on juveniles brought before their courts to increase the number of residents in the centers. [41]

In the following years, additional county officials faced criminal charges (e.g., a clerk of courts, a deputy chief clerk, a director of human resources). County Commissioner Greg Skrepenak resigned in 2009; he was ultimately sentenced to prison for accepting money from a developer who received government-backed financing. In May 2009, voters approved the creation of a government study commission. The commission proposed and wrote a home rule charter for Luzerne County. On November 2, 2010, the voters of Luzerne County held a referendum on the question of home rule. A total of 51,413 (55.25%) voted in favor of home rule, while another 41,639 (44.75%) voted against the move. This vote was the direct result of the corruption, wasteful spending, higher property taxes, and out-of-control debt facing the county. [42]

This referendum "starts a new chapter in Luzerne County history," remarked James Haggerty (the chairman of the commission that wrote and proposed the charter). The home rule charter would eliminate the positions of the three county commissioners; they would be replaced by an eleven-member county council (who will appoint and work alongside a county manager). The first election for the new government was scheduled for 2011 — which ended up becoming an eventful year for Luzerne County.

From March to June of that year, the Borough of Duryea received national attention for its role in the landmark Supreme Court case Borough of Duryea v. Guarnieri , in which the court stated that "a government employer's allegedly retaliatory actions against an employee do not give rise to liability under the Petition Clause unless the employee's petition relates to a matter of public concern." [43]

The second major event occurred in September 2011, when Luzerne County witnessed historical flooding from Tropical Storm Lee. The Susquehanna River reached a record high of 42.6 feet (13 meters) in Wilkes-Barre. The river topped the 40.9-foot (12.5 meters) level in flooding caused by Hurricane Agnes in 1972. However, unlike 1972, the levee system in Wilkes-Barre and several other communities held. Those municipalities without a levee system witnessed severe flooding. [44] [45] [46]

The first general election for Luzerne County Council was held on November 8, making it the third and final consequential event of 2011. In the end, six Democrats, four Republicans, and one independent politician were elected.

The home rule charter took effect on January 2, 2012. The Luzerne County Board of Commissioners was abolished and replaced with the new form of government (council–manager government). The last three commissioners were Chairwoman Maryanne Petrilla, Stephen A. Urban, and Thomas Cooney. The first eleven council members were sworn in that same day. According to the charter, the council chair is "recognized as head of the county government for ceremonial purposes." [47] The first council chair was Jim Bobeck. [48] During the first council meeting, Tom Pribula was appointed interim county manager. [49] Several weeks later, the council officially appointed the first permanent manager (Robert Lawton). [50]


The Susquehanna River from the Mocanaqua Loop Trail (in Conyngham Township) West-central Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.JPG
The Susquehanna River from the Mocanaqua Loop Trail (in Conyngham Township)
Scenery of Dallas Township Scenery of Dallas Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.jpg
Scenery of Dallas Township
Nuremberg from the south View of Nuremberg, Pennsylvania from the south.JPG
Nuremberg from the south
Boats on Harveys Lake Boats on Harveys Lake.JPG
Boats on Harveys Lake
Canoes on the shores of Lake Jean (in Ricketts Glen State Park) Ricketts Glen State Park Canoes.jpg
Canoes on the shores of Lake Jean (in Ricketts Glen State Park)

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 906 square miles (2,350 km2), of which 890 square miles (2,300 km2) is land and 16 square miles (41 km2), or 1.8%, is water. [51] The highest point in the county is Cherry Ridge in Fairmount Township. The ridge is 2,460 feet (750 m) above sea level. [52] The lowest point, of about 512 feet (156 m), can be found near Shickshinny.

Luzerne County consists of 76 independently governing municipalities (which includes 4 cities, 36 boroughs, and 36 townships). Wilkes-Barre is the largest city; it has a total area of 7.2 square miles (19 km2). Pittston, with a total area of 1.7 square miles (4.4 km2), is the smallest city. Harveys Lake is the largest borough; it has a total area of 6.2 square miles (16 km2). Jeddo, with a total area of 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2), is the smallest borough. Bear Creek is the largest township; it has a total area of 67.8 square miles (176 km2). Wilkes-Barre Township, with a total area of 2.9 square miles (7.5 km2), is the smallest.

The Wyoming Valley – also referred to as the Anthracite Valley Section of Pennsylvania – runs directly through Luzerne County. It extends from the northeastern border (with Lackawanna County) to the western border (with Columbia County). The valley is flat (at the Susquehanna Basin) and rises from 512 feet (156 m) to 2,000 feet (610 m) in some places. Bear Creek, on the eastern side of the valley, has a mean elevation of about 2,000 feet (610 m), while Shickshinny, on the Susquehanna Basin, is about 512 feet (156 m). The county is crossed by a series of east-to-west mountains (e.g., Buck Mountain, Nescopeck Mountain, Penobscot Knob, and Red Rock Mountain). They are all part of the Appalachian Mountain Range.

The Susquehanna River is the largest river in the county. There are several islands located within the river; for example, Scovell Island (near Pittston), Monocanock Island (near Wyoming), and Richard Island (near Wilkes-Barre). The Susquehanna drains most of the county (including Bowman Creek, Huntington Creek, the Lackawanna River, Nescopeck Creek, Solomon Creek, and many other streams). The Lehigh River, which forms part of Luzerne County's southeastern border, drains the easternmost region. Dozens of lakes and ponds are also scattered throughout the county (e.g., Harveys Lake, Lake Jean, Lake Louise, and Long Pond).

Luzerne County consists of several urban areas. The first is a contiguous quilt-work of former anthracite coal mining communities (including the cities of Pittston, Wilkes-Barre, and Nanticoke). It is located in the northeastern and central part of the county (in the Wyoming Valley). The second is Hazleton and it is located in the southern portion of the county. Other urban areas include the Back Mountain (in northern Luzerne County) and Mountain Top (between Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton). Thick forests and small farming communities are located just outside the urban centers.

State parks and forests

Adjacent counties

Adams Falls, Ricketts Glen State Park Adams Falls (1) (8213883793).jpg
Adams Falls, Ricketts Glen State Park
Grand View Trail, Ricketts Glen State Park Grand View Trail (1).jpg
Grand View Trail, Ricketts Glen State Park
Hayfields, Ricketts Glen State Park Flickr - Nicholas T - Burnished (1).jpg
Hayfields, Ricketts Glen State Park
Summit of Mount Yeager, Nescopeck State Park Nescopeck State PArk Perched.jpg
Summit of Mount Yeager, Nescopeck State Park


A beach on Lake Jean Ricketts Glen State Park Beach 2.jpg
A beach on Lake Jean

Luzerne County has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfa/mostly Dfb) with four distinct seasons. Winters are cold with a January average of 25.8 °F (−3.4 °C). [54] The surrounding mountains have an influence on the climate (which includes both precipitation and temperature). This results in a wide array of weather conditions throughout the county. [55] On average, temperatures below 0 °F (−17.8 °C) are infrequent, occurring 3 days per year, and there are 36 days where the maximum temperature remains below 32 °F (0.0 °C). [55] In the Wilkes-Barre area, the average annual snowfall is 46.2 inches (117 cm) during the winter (in which severe snowstorms are rare). [55] However, when snowstorms do occur, they can disrupt normal routines for several days. [55] Summers are warm with a July average of 71.4 °F (21.9 °C). [54] In an average summer, temperatures exceeding 90 °F (32.2 °C) occur on 9 days and can occasionally exceed 100 °F (37.8 °C). [56] Spring and fall are unpredictable with temperatures ranging from cold to warm (although they are usually mild). On average, Wilkes-Barre receives 38.2 inches (970 mm) of precipitation each year, which is relatively evenly distributed throughout the year (though the summer months receive more precipitation). [56] Extreme temperatures range from −21 °F (−29.4 °C) on January 21, 1994, to 103 °F (39.4 °C) on July 9, 1936. [56] Wilkes-Barre averages 2,303 hours of sunshine per year, ranging from a low of 96 hours in December (or 33% of possible sunshine) to 286 hours in July (or 62% of possible sunshine). [57] Despite being at the south end of the county, Hazleton's temperatures average lower than those of the Wyoming Valley due to its elevation.

Climate data for Hazleton, Luzerne County, PA
Average high °F (°C)31.9
Daily mean °F (°C)23.8
Average low °F (°C)15.7
Average precipitation inches (mm)3.20
Average relative humidity (%)74.669.064.961.164.773.273.777.077.774.273.475.771.6
Source: PRISM Climate Group [59]


Average household income by county in Pennsylvania. Data shown is from the 2014 American Community Survey (a 5-year estimate). Luzerne County can be seen in the northeast. Geo Map of Income by Location in Pennsylvania.png
Average household income by county in Pennsylvania. Data shown is from the 2014 American Community Survey (a 5-year estimate). Luzerne County can be seen in the northeast.
Historical population
1790 4,892
1800 12,839162.4%
1810 18,10941.0%
1820 20,02710.6%
1830 27,37936.7%
1840 44,00660.7%
1850 56,07227.4%
1860 90,24460.9%
1870 160,91578.3%
1880 133,065−17.3%
1890 201,20351.2%
1900 257,12127.8%
1910 343,18633.5%
1920 390,99113.9%
1930 445,10913.8%
1940 441,518−0.8%
1950 392,241−11.2%
1960 346,972−11.5%
1970 342,301−1.3%
1980 343,0790.2%
1990 328,149−4.4%
2000 319,255−2.7%
2010 320,9180.5%
Est. 2018317,646 [60] −1.0%
Sources: [61] [62] [63] [64]

As of the 2010 census, the county was 90.7% White, 3.4% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American, 1.0% Asian, 3.3% other race, and 1.5% were of two or more races. 6.7% of the population were of Hispanic or Latino ancestry. [65]

According to the census of 2000, there were 319,250 people, 130,687 households, and 84,293 families residing in the county. The population density was 358 people per square mile (138/km2). There were 144,686 housing units at an average density of 162 per square mile (63/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 96.63% White, 1.69% Black or African American, 0.09% Native American, 0.58% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.43% other race, and 0.57% from two or more races. 1.16% of the population were Hispanic or Latino. 22.2% were of Polish ancestry, 15.6% of Italian ancestry, 13.8% of Irish ancestry, 12.1% of German ancestry, and 5.3% of Slovak ancestry. Luzerne County is the only county in the United States with a plurality of citizens reporting Polish as their primary ancestry; [66] the plurality of Pennsylvanians report German or Pennsylvania Dutch.

There were 130,687 households, out of which 48.80% were married couples living together. 11.50% had a female householder with no husband present. 35.50% were non-families. 31.30% of all households were made up of individuals. 16% of those age 65 years and older lived alone. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the county, the population consisted of 21% under the age of 18, 8.10% from 18 to 24, 27.20% from 25 to 44, 24% from 45 to 64, and 19.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 93 males. For every 100 females (age 18 and over), there were 89.50 males.

The median household income (in 2015 dollars) was $45,897. 15.1% of the population lives in poverty. 60.4% of those 16 years of age or older are in the civilian labor force. There are more white collar jobs in Luzerne County than blue collar jobs. In total, there are 91,801 white collar jobs and 62,813 blue collar jobs. [67] The mean travel time to work (for those 16 years of age or older) was 22.1 minutes. In terms of education, 88.9% (of those 25 years of age or older) are high school graduates or higher. 21.4% (of those 25 years of age or older) have a bachelor's degree or higher. In terms of healthcare, 10.8% (for those under the age of 65) are living with a disability. As of 2015, 25,317 veterans are living in Luzerne County. [68]


The two major languages spoken in Luzerne County are English and Spanish. 5.8% of the population speaks Spanish at home. Most of the Spanish speaking population can be found in and around the City of Hazleton. [69]


59.27% of the people in Luzerne County are religious, meaning they affiliate with a religion. 43.77% are Catholic; 0.28% are LDS (or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints); 0.51% are Baptist; 0.55% are Episcopalian; 1.05% are Pentecostal; 3.11% are Lutheran; 4.40% are Methodist; 1.95% are Presbyterian; 2.33% are of some other Christian faith; 0.78% are Jewish; 0.00% are of an eastern faith; and 0.51% practice Islam. [70]


Luzerne County Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre Luzerne County Courthouse flickr.jpg
Luzerne County Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre
The courthouse dome amid the Wilkes-Barre skyline Kings College Campus.jpg
The courthouse dome amid the Wilkes-Barre skyline


Luzerne County voters rejected home rule proposals in the past (once in 1974 and again in 2003). However, from 2008 to 2010, corruption plagued the county government. Three county judges, a county commissioner, a clerk of courts, a deputy chief clerk, and a director of human resources faced criminal charges. These events persuaded the voters of Luzerne County to adopt a new form of government. On Tuesday, November 2, 2010, a home rule charter was adopted by a margin of 51,413 to 41,639. [71] [42]

The following year (in 2011), the first election for the new government was held. On Monday, January 2, 2012, the previous government (the board of county commissioners) was abolished and replaced with the new form of government (council–manager government). The first members of the Luzerne County Council were sworn in that same day. The council's highest-ranking officer is the chair; he or she is also the head of county government for ceremonial purposes. The first council chair was Jim Bobeck. [48] The assembly consists of eleven elected members. They appoint and work alongside a full-time manager. The manager runs an executive branch of county government. The first manager was Robert Lawton. [50]

County Council

The Luzerne County Council is the governing body of the county. The council meets at the Luzerne County Courthouse. There are eleven members on the assembly — eight Democrats and three Republicans. Each member is duly elected by the voters of the county. The chair is appointed by his or her fellow council members. The chair is both the highest-ranking officer on the council and the head of county government for ceremonial purposes. [47] He or she sets the agenda for the council and administers the meetings. When the group is not in session, the officer's duties often include acting as its representative to the outside world and its spokesperson. The current chair is Tim McGinley. [72]

Current council members [73]
Council memberTime in officePartyNotes
Tim McGinley2012–presentDemocratic Chair
Eugene Kelleher2012–presentRepublican Vice Chair
Edd Brominski2012–presentDemocratic
Harry Haas2012–presentRepublican
Linda McClosky Houck2012–presentDemocratic
Chris R. Perry2018–presentRepublican
Sheila Saidman2018–presentDemocratic
Robert Schnee2016–presentDemocratic
Stephen A. Urban 2012–presentDemocratic
Matthew Vough2018–presentDemocratic
Jane Walsh Waitkus2016–presentDemocratic
List of chairs
ChairTime in officePartyNotes
1Jim Bobeck2012Democratic
2Tim McGinley2012–2014Democratic
3Rick Morelli2014–2015Republican
4Linda McClosky Houck2015–2018DemocraticFirst female chair
5Tim McGinley2018–presentDemocratic

County Manager

The executive branch is headed by the Luzerne County Manager. The manager supervises the county's day-to-day operations. According to the home rule charter, he or she "shall serve at the pleasure of county council." [47] In other words, the council has the power to appoint and remove the manager. [74] Each ordinance, resolution, and policy established by county council should be faithfully executed by the county manager. The manager may make recommendations to the council; however, he or she does not have the authority to vote on or veto any legislation originating from the assembly. [47] The current manager is David Pedri. [75] [76]

Other county officials

Luzerne County Courthouse LuzerneCountyCourthouseRiverCommons.jpg
Luzerne County Courthouse
Luzerne County Courthouse (October 2009) Luzerne County Courthouse2.jpg
Luzerne County Courthouse (October 2009)
The Susquehanna River and the Wilkes-Barre skyline; the courthouse is in the background Wilkes-Barre with Susquehanna River.jpg
The Susquehanna River and the Wilkes-Barre skyline; the courthouse is in the background


Presidential election results
Presidential election results [77]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2016 57.9%78,68838.6% 52,4513.5% 4,762
2012 46.7% 58,32551.5%64,3071.8% 2,213
2008 45.0% 61,12753.3%72,4921.7% 2,349
2004 47.8% 64,95351.2%69,5731.1% 1,502
2000 43.8% 52,32852.0%62,1994.2% 5,059
1996 37.3% 43,57751.5%60,17411.2% 13,066
1992 38.8% 49,28544.5%56,62316.7% 21,238
1988 50.0%59,05949.6% 58,5530.4% 480
1984 53.5%69,16945.2% 58,4821.3% 1,640
1980 50.2%67,82244.4% 59,9765.4% 7,282
1976 44.2% 60,05854.9%74,6551.0% 1,296
1972 60.9%81,35838.3% 51,1280.8% 1,120
1968 39.8% 57,04455.1%79,0405.1% 7,296
1964 28.9% 43,89570.0%106,3971.2% 1,779
1960 40.6% 70,71159.1%102,9980.3% 562
1956 58.2%92,45841.0% 65,1550.8% 1,207
1952 54.8%88,96744.7% 72,5790.4% 715
1948 52.9%71,67445.6% 61,8691.5% 2,068
1944 47.8% 67,98451.8%73,6740.4% 541
1940 43.8% 79,68555.9%101,5770.3% 622
1936 43.3% 81,57255.7%105,0081.1% 1,997
1932 45.4% 52,67252.6%60,9752.0% 2,281
1928 48.0% 67,87251.9%73,3190.2% 220
1924 53.2%46,47523.4% 20,47223.4% 20,449
1920 65.4%49,41931.1% 23,4733.6% 2,683
1916 53.7%25,34842.4% 19,9993.9% 1,832
1912 12.0% 4,97032.6% 13,46155.4%22,907
1908 56.2%24,59439.7% 17,3794.0% 1,760
1904 64.8%27,80931.5% 13,5183.7% 1,568
1900 54.9%21,79341.5% 16,4703.7% 1,454
1896 55.1%22,71842.0% 17,3053.0% 1,225
1892 45.2% 14,11850.4%15,7344.4% 1,377
1888 49.3%15,54348.2% 15,2182.5% 797

As of November 2008, there were 187,849 registered voters in Luzerne County. [78]

During presidential elections, the county is considered a bellwether of the state. It voted for the presidential candidate who carried Pennsylvania in every election since 1936. While the Democratic Party has been historically dominant in county-level politics, on the statewide and national levels, Luzerne County leans toward the Democratic Party only slightly. During the 2000 U.S. presidential election, Democrat Al Gore won 52% of the vote to Republican George W. Bush's 44%. In 2004, it was much closer, with Democrat John Kerry winning 51% to Republican George Bush's 48%. Democrat Barack Obama carried the county twice (once in 2008, and again in 2012). During the 2016 presidential election, Republican Donald Trump won the county with 58% of the vote, the largest margin since President Richard Nixon in 1972. It was the first time a Republican presidential candidate carried the county since 1988.

In recent years, Luzerne County has witnessed mixed results in U.S. senate elections. In 2000, 2004, 2016, and 2018, the Republican candidates for U.S. senate won the county. However, Democratic candidates for U.S. senate carried the county in 2006 (with 60.6% of the vote), 2010, and 2012.

Democratic candidates for Pennsylvania governor won Luzerne County in 2002, 2006 (with 67.5% of the vote), 2014, and 2018. In recent years, the county voted for a Republican gubernatorial candidate only once (in 2010).

United States Senate

United States House of Representatives

State Senate

State House of Representatives

Public safety

A volunteer fire department in Mocanaqua Mocanaqua Vol Fire Dept LuzCo PA.jpg
A volunteer fire department in Mocanaqua

There are many fire and police departments scattered throughout Luzerne County. [79] Each individual community (city, borough, and township) determines the boundaries of each department. The firefighters provide fire protection for its citizens. Most fire departments are headed by a fire chief and are staffed by a combination of career and volunteer firefighters.

The police provide full-time protection to its citizens, visitors, businesses, and public property. Most departments are headed by a chief of police and operate out of their local municipal building. The Luzerne County Sheriff's Office operates out of Wilkes-Barre's Luzerne County Courthouse. The sheriff is an official who is responsible for keeping the peace and enforcing the law throughout the county. [80] After Luzerne County adopted a home rule charter, the office of sheriff became an appointed position (and was no longer an elected one). The Pennsylvania State Police also have a presence in the county. Troop P operates out of the northern half of Luzerne County and is headquartered in Wyoming. Troop N operates out of the southern portion of the county and is headquartered in Hazleton.


Mercy Hospital in Wilkes-Barre (during the early 20th century) Mercy Hospital, Wilkes-Barre, Pa (73922).jpg
Mercy Hospital in Wilkes-Barre (during the early 20th century)



Map of Luzerne County School Districts Map of Luzerne County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Map of Luzerne County School Districts
Carpenter Hall, Wyoming Seminary Wyoming Seminary dorm LuzCo PA.JPG
Carpenter Hall, Wyoming Seminary
Administration Building, King's College Campus aerial new 2014.jpg
Administration Building, King's College
Hazleton Area Public Library Hazelton PA Library.JPG
Hazleton Area Public Library

Public school districts

Charter schools

Public vocational technical schools

Private schools

Colleges and universities


The Luzerne County Library System includes the following locations: [82] [83]

  • Back Mountain Memorial Library, Back Mountain
  • Hazleton Area Public Library, Hazleton
  • Hoyt Library, Kingston
  • Marian Sutherland Kirby Library, Mountain Top
  • Mill Memorial Library, Nanticoke
  • Osterhout Free Library, Wilkes-Barre
  • Pittston Memorial Library, Pittston
  • Plymouth Public Library, Plymouth
  • West Pittston Library, West Pittston
  • Wyoming Free Library, Wyoming


A Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hockey game at the Mohegan Sun Arena WBArena.jpg
A Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hockey game at the Mohegan Sun Arena
A hotel near the Mohegan Sun casino Mohegan Poconos hotelLuzCo PA.jpg
A hotel near the Mohegan Sun casino
Wilkes-Barre's Public Square Wilkes-Barre.jpg
Wilkes-Barre's Public Square

Local attractions


The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area is the 55th-largest U.S. television market. [89] Local television stations [90] include: WNEP-TV (ABC affiliate), WBRE-TV (NBC affiliate), WYOU-TV (CBS affiliate), WVIA-TV (PBS affiliate), WOLF-TV (FOX affiliate), WQMY (MyNetworkTV affiliate), WSWB (CW affiliate), WQPX (Ion Television affiliate), and WYLN-LP (Youtoo TV affiliate).

Times Leader and The Citizens' Voice are the two largest daily newspapers in the Wilkes-Barre area. Wilkes-Barre's radio market is ranked No. 69 by Arbitron's ranking system. There are news, adult alternative, and music radio stations which are receivable in the area.


Team nameLeagueSportVenue
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins AHL Ice Hockey Mohegan Sun Arena
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders IL Baseball PNC Field


PA 29 in Lake Township Pennsylvania Route 29 north in Lake Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.JPG
PA 29 in Lake Township
A train travels underneath the Firefighters' Memorial Bridge in Pittston Pittston, Pennsylvania (4111301389).jpg
A train travels underneath the Firefighters' Memorial Bridge in Pittston




Interstate 80 in southern Luzerne County Flickr - Nicholas T - Westbound.jpg
Interstate 80 in southern Luzerne County
Specialist Dale J. Kridlo Bridge (U.S. Route 11) Pittston, Pennsylvania (4111301775).jpg
Specialist Dale J. Kridlo Bridge (U.S. Route 11)
North Cross Valley Expressway (PA 309) North Cross Valley.jpg
North Cross Valley Expressway (PA 309)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport KAVP Terminals.jpg
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport


Wilkes-Barre, the county seat and largest city of Luzerne County Wilkes Barre Panorama.jpg
Wilkes-Barre, the county seat and largest city of Luzerne County
Hazleton, the second largest city in Luzerne County Downtown hazleton pa.jpg
Hazleton, the second largest city in Luzerne County
Nanticoke, the third largest city Nanticoke City.jpg
Nanticoke, the third largest city
Pittston, the fourth largest city PittstonCity1.jpg
Pittston, the fourth largest city
A map of Luzerne County--with municipal labels--showing cities/boroughs (red), townships (white), and census-designated places/regions (blue). Map of Luzerne County Pennsylvania With Municipal and Township Labels.png
A map of Luzerne County—with municipal labels—showing cities/boroughs (red), townships (white), and census-designated places/regions (blue).

Luzerne County contains the second highest number of independently governing municipalities in the state of Pennsylvania, with 76; only Allegheny County has more. [91] Under Pennsylvania law, there are four types of incorporated municipalities: cities, boroughs, townships, and, in the case of Bloomsburg, towns. The following cities, boroughs, and townships are located in Luzerne County:




Census-designated places

Census-designated places are geographical areas designated by the U.S. Census Bureau for the purposes of compiling demographic data. They are not actual jurisdictions under Pennsylvania law.

Other places

Population ranking

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Luzerne County. [92]

county seat

RankCity/Borough/TownshipMunicipal typePopulation (2010 census)
1 Wilkes-Barre City41,498
2 Hazleton City25,340
3 Kingston Borough13,182
4 Hanover Township Township11,076
5 Nanticoke City10,465
6 Plains Township Township9,961
7 Hazle Township Township9,549
8 Butler Township Township9,221
9 Dallas Township Township8,994
10 Pittston City7,739
11 Kingston Township Township6,999
12 Plymouth Borough5,951
13 Exeter Borough5,652
14 Wright Township Township5,651
15 Newport Township Township5,374
16 Swoyersville Borough5,062
17 Duryea Borough4,917
18 West Pittston Borough4,868
19 Edwardsville Borough4,816
20 Jackson Township Township4,646
21 West Hazleton Borough4,594
22 Fairview Township Township4,520
23 Larksville Borough4,480
24 Jenkins Township Township4,442
25 Salem Township Township4,254
26 Forty Fort Borough4,214
27 Sugarloaf Township Township4,211
28 Freeland Borough3,531
29 Lehman Township Township3,508
30 Foster Township Township3,467
31 Pittston Township Township3,368
32 Rice Township Township3,335
33 Wyoming Borough3,073
34 Wilkes-Barre Township Township2,967
35 Ross Township Township2,937
36 Luzerne Borough2,845
37 Dallas Borough2,804
38 Harveys Lake Borough2,791
39 Ashley Borough2,790
40 Bear Creek Township Township2,774
41 West Wyoming Borough2,725
42 Dupont Borough2,711
43 Avoca Borough2,661
44 Hunlock Township Township2,443
45 Exeter Township Township2,378
46 Huntington Township Township2,244
47 Dorrance Township Township2,188
48 Lake Township Township2,049
49 Union Township Township2,042
50 Black Creek Township Township2,016
51 Conyngham Borough1,914
52 Plymouth Township Township1,812
53 Franklin Township Township1,757
54 Nescopeck Borough1,583
55 Laflin Borough1,487
56 Conyngham Township Township1,453
57 Hughestown Borough1,392
58 Fairmount Township Township1,276
59 Hollenback Township Township1,196
60 Nescopeck Township Township1,155
61 Dennison Township Township1,125
62 Slocum Township Township1,115
63 White Haven Borough1,097
64 Sugar Notch Borough989
65 Pringle Borough979
66 Shickshinny Borough838
67 Courtdale Borough732
68 Nuangola Borough679
69 Yatesville Borough607
70 Warrior Run Borough584
71 Laurel Run Borough500
72 Buck Township Township435
73 Penn Lake Park Borough308
74 Bear Creek Village Borough257
75 New Columbus Borough227
76 Jeddo Borough98

Notable people

See also


  1. Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the expected highest and lowest temperature readings at any point during the year or given month) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
  2. Official records for Avoca/Wilkes-Barre–Scranton kept at downtown Scranton from January 1901 to 17 April 1955 and at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport since 18 April 1955. [58]

Related Research Articles

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania City and County seat in Pennsylvania, United States

Wilkes-Barre is a city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Luzerne County. It is one of the principal cities in the Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area. Located at the center of the Wyoming Valley, it is second in size to the nearby city of Scranton. The Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 563,631 as of the 2010 Census, making it the fourth-largest metro/statistical area in the state of Pennsylvania. Wilkes-Barre and the surrounding Wyoming Valley are framed by the Pocono Mountains to the east, the Endless Mountains to the north and west, and the Lehigh Valley to the south. The Susquehanna River flows through the center of the valley and defines the northwestern border of the city.

Hanover Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania Township in Pennsylvania, United States

Hanover Township is a township in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 11,076, making it the most populous township in the county.

Nanticoke, Pennsylvania City in Pennsylvania, United States

Nanticoke is a city in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 10,465, making it the third largest city in Luzerne County. It occupies 3.5 square miles of land. The city can be divided into several sections: Honey Pot, Downtown, and Hanover Section. It was once an active coal mining community. Today, the 167-acre main campus of Luzerne County Community College is located within the city.

Newport Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania First Class Township in Pennsylvania, United States

Newport Township is a township in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, United States. As of 2010, the population was 5,374. Newport is located on the outskirts of Nanticoke City.

Pittston, Pennsylvania City in Pennsylvania, United States

Pittston is a city in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, United States. It is situated between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. The city gained prominence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as an active anthracite coal mining city, drawing a large portion of its labor force from European immigrants. The population was 7,739 as of the 2010 census, making it the fourth largest city in Luzerne County. At its peak in 1920, the population of Pittston was 18,497. The city consists of three sections: The Downtown, the Oregon Section, and the Junction. Pittston City is at the heart of the Greater Pittston region. Greater Pittston has a total population of 48,020.

Pittston Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania Township in Pennsylvania, United States

Pittston Township is a township in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 3,368 as of the 2010 census. The township is located within the Greater Pittston region. As of 2010, the total population of Greater Pittston was 48,020. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport is located in Pittston Township.

Plains Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania Township in Pennsylvania, United States

Plains Township is a township in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 9,961 at the 2010 census. The municipality is the birthplace of Chicago White Sox hall of famer Ed Walsh and John J. Yeosock, a United States Army general who commanded the 3rd U.S. Army during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Mohegan Sun Pocono is a casino in Plains Township.

Plymouth Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania Township in Pennsylvania, United States

Plymouth Township is located in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 1,812 at the 2010 census.

White Haven, Pennsylvania Borough in Pennsylvania, United States

White Haven is a borough in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. It is located along the Lehigh River. The population was 1,097 at the 2010 census.

Northeastern Pennsylvania Place in Pennsylvania, United States

Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) is a geographic region of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania that includes the Pocono Mountains, the Endless Mountains, and the industrial cities of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Pittston, Hazleton, Nanticoke, and Carbondale. A portion of this region constitutes a part of the New York City metropolitan area.

Area codes 570 and 272

Area codes 570 and 272 are telephone area codes serving the northeast quadrant of Pennsylvania, including the cities/towns of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Williamsport, Stroudsburg, East Stroudsburg, Pittston, Carbondale, Hazleton, Clarks Summit, Towanda, Bloomsburg, Sayre, Tunkhannock, Berwick, Milford, Montrose, Honesdale, Pocono Pines, Nanticoke, Tamaqua, Shavertown, Dallas, Mahanoy City, Sunbury, Jim Thorpe, as far south as Pottsville and as far west as Lock Haven. 570 is the main area code, while 272 is an overlay covering the same territory as 570.

Greater Pittston Region in Pennsylvania, United States

Greater Pittston is a 65.35 sq mi (169.25 km²) region in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, in reference to the area in and around Pittston. As of 2010, the total population of Greater Pittston is 48,020. This region includes Avoca, Dupont, Duryea, Exeter Boro, Exeter Township, Hughestown, Jenkins Township, Laflin, Pittston Township, West Pittston, West Wyoming, Wyoming, and Yatesville.

Luzerne County Transportation Authority

The Luzerne County Transportation Authority (LCTA) is the operator of mass transportation in the city of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and portions of surrounding Luzerne County. Services provided by the LCTA replaced previously offered services of the White Transit Company and Wilkes-Barre Transit Corporation, under a purchase-of-service agreement in 1972.

Duryea Yard

Duryea Yard is a railroad yard in the Wyoming Valley region of Northeastern Pennsylvania currently operated by the Reading Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad. Originally constructed in 1870 by the Lehigh Valley Railroad as a turn-around and staging hub for coal transport from the "Coal Region" to Eastern big-city markets, the yard remains a hub for the energy extraction industry today.

Mill Creek is a tributary of the Susquehanna River in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania in the United States. It is 8.7 miles (14.0 km) long. Its watershed is approximately 36 square miles in area. The creek flows through Plains Township, Bear Creek Township, and Wilkes-Barre.

The Wyoming Division Canal was a anthracite canal in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, in the United States. It was a branch of the North Branch Canal, which was one of only two major canals in Pennsylvania to be owned by the state. The creek went from West Nanticoke to Pittston, going through Luzerne County.

Solomon Creek tributary of the Susquehanna River

Solomon Creek is a tributary of the Susquehanna River in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, in the United States. It is approximately 8.8 miles (14.2 km) long and flows through Fairview Township, Hanover Township, and Wilkes-Barre. The creek is affected by acid mine drainage and has significant loads of iron, aluminum, and manganese. The creek's named tributaries are Spring Run, Sugar Notch Run, and Pine Creek. The Solomon Creek watershed is located in the Anthracite Valley section of the ridge-and-valley geographical province. Major rock formations in the watershed include the Mauch Chunk Formation, the Spechty Kopf Formation, and the Catskill Formation.

Nanticoke Creek river in the United States of America

Nanticoke Creek is a tributary of the Susquehanna River in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, in the United States. It is approximately 4.4 miles (7.1 km) long and flows through Hanover Township and Nanticoke. The watershed of the creek has an area of 7.57 square miles (19.6 km2). The creek has one named tributary, which is known as Espy Run. Nanticoke Creek impaired by pH and metals due to abandoned mine drainage. Abandoned mine drainage discharges in the creek's watershed include the Truesdale Mine Discharge and the Askam Borehole. The creek is located in the Northern Middle Anthracite Field and is in the Anthracite Valley Section of the ridge and valley physiographic province. The main rock formations in the watershed include the Mauch Chunk Formation, the Pottsville Group, and the Llewellyn Formation. The surficial geology consists of coal dumps, surface mining land, alluvium, Wisconsinan Outwash, Wisconsinan Till, urban land, and bedrock.


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Coordinates: 41°11′N75°59′W / 41.18°N 75.99°W / 41.18; -75.99