A New Mural Honors Local Art, History & Culture
The Lackawanna River Heritage Trail looks a little brighter thanks to a new mural at the John Street trailhead in Carbondale. Valley in Motion and Northeast Art Project teamed up to turn an old train abutment into a work of art. The mural is 75 feet long and depicts a miner, a train and Carbondale’s nickname, “The Pioneer City.”
“This was our biggest project to date on the most challenging surface,” said Ryan Hnat, founder of Northeast Art Project. “And, we nailed it.”
Hnat designed the lettering and the miner. Local artist Eric Bussart created the train, which is a Delaware & Hudson steam engine that was used in Carbondale in the 1870s. Hnat, Zach Yahn and Jimmy Lowe prepped the wall and added the finishing touches.
“A lot of people from the community come by, and they’re excited about it. They want to engage and talk about it and praise the work you’re doing,” said Bussart. “In my experience, people just like to see projects and paintings and murals go up in their area. More color is always a good thing.”
Valley in Motion hosted a grand opening celebration for the mural on June 5. Community members came to admire the artwork and enjoy a day on the trail.
The project is part of Valley in Motion’s Valley Murals initiative. It was inspired by the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, which attracts visitors to the city with over 4,000 pieces of street art.
“I think large-scale, public art is a good way of galvanizing the community and to be proud of something that everybody shares just by appreciating it,” said Gus Fahey, President of Valley in Motion.
Community members were able to weigh in and vote on the final designs. Due to COVID, the public meetings were held on Zoom and Facebook Live.
“As it turned out, we had 300 people weigh in on what this mural should be. That was much more than we would have had if we were meeting people face-to-face,” said Fahey.
It took several months to obtain permissions, create design concepts, prepare the wall and plan for the mural. But once everything was in place, the artists completed the entire painting in nine work days.
“After working in Carbondale for several days, I realized how much of an effect this mural would have on the community over time,” said Hnat. “It now has become a focus point of a beautiful park. Graduating seniors will be taking their pictures in front of the wall. Anyone visiting along the trail will see a traditional view of Carbondale painted in a modern way. Carbondale has a bright future, and I hope this is the beginning of a renaissance in the Pioneer City.”
Other key partners and funders included NeighborWorks NEPA, the City of Carbondale, Greater Carbondale Chamber of Commerce, Lackawanna Heritage Valley, the Greater Carbondale YMCA, the Pennsylvania Department of Natural Resources, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Pocono Forests & Waters Conservation Landscape, The Mosaic Project, Scranton Area Community Foundation, Sordoni Family Foundation and United Gilsonite Laboratories.
The Carbondale Trailhead Mural is located off of John Street, near the Greater Carbondale YMCA playground. Stop by the next time you’re downtown, or keep an eye out when you’re using the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail.