Each month, the Northeast PA chapter will share a Trail of the Month to explore. Log miles on the Trolley Trail this June for a chance to win a gift card to Scranton Running Company. Share your photos on social media with #NEPA165 to be entered to win.
Explore This Historic Rail Trail Through the Abingtons
Did you know there is a trail that follows the former Northern Electric Street Railway? Today, the Countryside Conservancy Trolley Trail has replaced freight and passenger cars with runners, hikers, cross-country skiers, dog walkers, bicyclists and wheelchair users. This non-motorized, recreational path currently has three segments: Clarks Summit to Dalton, La Plume to Dalton and La Plume to Factoryville. Eventually, the trail will connect Clark Summit to Lake Winola, spanning Lackawanna, Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties.
The Northern Electric (a.k.a. the Dalton Street Railway) took its maiden trip in July of 1907 and operated for 28 years. Interurban “electric fever” was sweeping the country at the turn of the century, leading to the development of numerous trolleys like this line.
The trolleys met the need for freight and passenger service between Scranton and the rural communities of the Abingtons. City dwellers escaped to the countryside during hot summers, and farmers shipped their milk and produce to the markets of Scranton. Amusement parks on either end enticed travelers to traverse the towns of Clarks Summit, Glenburn, Waverly, Dalton, La Plume and Factoryville. Today, trailgoers visit these historic communities along the Trolley Trail for hardware fixes at Dalton Do It Center and dining at State Street Grill in Clark Summit, McGrath’s Pub in Dalton and Bella Pizza of Factoryville.
A boon for nature lovers and history buffs, the Trolley Trail boasts a rich canopy of hardwood trees, natural stone features and interpretive signage, as well as multiple cattle crossings. Over a hundred years old, these small stone tunnels under the right-of-way provided local farmers with a method to keep their cattle safe and prevent accidents. On Keystone College’s property near West LaPlume Road, you’ll notice stone foundations remaining from the travelers’ waiting platforms. And though not yet a part of the completed trail, one of the largest original stations for the Northern Electric stands on Main Street in Dalton— a small white building between the former market and bank.
The vision and dedication of the Countryside Conservancy, a nonprofit land trust, brought the Trolley Trail to fruition. Founded in 1994, the Conservancy aims to protect and connect greenspace in and near the Tunkhannock Creek watershed for public benefit, now and for future generations. Rosamond “Roz” Peck, a founding board member, possessed extensive research and several remaining segments of the original Northern Electric trolley alignment, which she envisioned as a trail for local communities.
Over the years, trail enthusiasts and community members have built upon Roz’s vision to construct the first three phases of the Trolley Trail. Currently, Countryside Conservancy is exploring ways to close the three gaps, as well as create a potential future connection to the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail.
A small but mighty team of three employees continues to expand the trail, lead Wildflower Walks and partner with the Abington Ecumenical Minsterium for the annual CROP Hunger Walk. Community support from Conservancy members, volunteers and donors powers their efforts to reuse this historic rail trail.
Counties: Lackawanna and Wyoming
Length: 5 miles
Surface: Unpaved, hard-composite permeable (accessible for wheelchairs, strollers and bicycles)
Accessibility: All three existing phases of the Trolley Trail comply with ADA guidelines and provide ADA parking, with the exception of the Riverside Drive section in Factoryville (use Keystone entrance for ADA parking access instead).
Regional trail connections: Abington Little League Complex, Dalton Borough and Streamside Park, Keystone College Trails and Athletic Complex, Factoryville Borough Christy Mathewson Park