Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Laurel Line: An Anthracite Region Railway

Laurel Line: An Anthracite Region Railway

by James N.J. Henwood and John G. Munci

(Tribute Books)

The dawn of the 20th Century saw a new form of transportation evolve in the United States: the interurban electric railway. These enterprises were natural offshoots of the original, short urban trolley lines that quickly replaced the horse car in the 1890s.Most trolley lines lived in relative obscurity and enjoyed a few years of prosperity, followed by decline and abandonment in the face of bus and automotive competition. A relative handful managed to survive until the post-World War II years and thus have attracted greater attention.Among them was the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad. The Laurel Line, as it was most commonly known, was unusual in several respects: It was built to higher-than-normal standards for electric short line railroads; it operated mostly with a third rail power system; it ran exclusively on private rights-of-way; and it served a geographically narrow region whose economy was heavily dependent on one industry - coal. The Laurel Line's corporate records survived, and authors Henwood and Muncie made the most of this historical treasure. In the book, the railroad emerges in human terms of strife, struggle, victory and defeat. The reader learns not only what happened, but why, and who made it happen. All railroads are interesting if properly researched - the Laurel Line as portrayed in this work is profoundly fascinating. Life in Pennsylvania's anthracite region is detailed when the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad was fighting the good fight. This was an amazing book the was well researched and filled with information that any train lover or historian would be interested in.

About the Authors

Authors James N.J. Henwood and John G. Muncie have been friends and colleagues for four decades. Both taught in the History Department of East Stroudsburg University and are currently professors emeriti of that institution. They have been active in local organizations such as the Monroe County Historical Society and the Historical Farm Association.
Born in Upper Darby, Henwood's early contact with Philadelphia streetcars became the basis for a lifelong interest in electric railways and transportation. He presently resides in East Stroudsburg. Muncie spent his first 18 years in Taylor. As a youth, he occasionally rode the Laurel Line to outings at Rocky Glen Park. Muncie lives in Stroudsburg.