Honesdale, Pennsylvania

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Borough of Honesdale
Wayne County courthouse mod.jpg
The Wayne County courthouse
Motto: "Enjoy the Honesdale Experience"
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Wayne
Elevation 1,148 ft (349.9 m)
Coordinates 41°34′27″N 75°15′21″W / 41.57417°N 75.25583°W / 41.57417; -75.25583Coordinates: 41°34′27″N 75°15′21″W / 41.57417°N 75.25583°W / 41.57417; -75.25583
Area 4.0 sq mi (10.4 km2)
 - land 3.9 sq mi (10 km2)
 - water 0.1 sq mi (0 km2), 2.5%
Population 4,480 (2010)
Density 1,148.7 / sq mi (443.5 / km2)
Founded 1826
Timezone EST (UTC-5)
 - summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 18431
Area code 570 Exchanges: 251, 253, 352
Location of Honesdale in Pennsylvania
Location of Pennsylvania in the United States
Website: Honesdale Borough

Honesdale is a borough in and the county seat of Wayne County, Pennsylvania.[1] The borough's population was 4,480 at the time of the 2010 United States Census.[2]

Honesdale is located 32 miles (51 km) northeast of Scranton in a rural area that provides many recreational opportunities including: boating, fishing, hiking, hunting, skiing, biking, skateboarding, and rafting. Located in a coal mining region, during the 19th century it was the starting point of the Delaware and Hudson Canal, which provided for transport of coal to Kingston, New York and then down the Hudson River to New York City. In the 19th century the expansion of railroads eventually superseded regular use of the canal.


1890 panoramic map of Honesdale

Honesdale was named for Philip Hone, former Mayor of New York and president of Honesdale's Delaware and Hudson Canal Company. Honesdale, originally Dyberry Forks, was laid out in 1826, as the D & H Canal was also created, and incorporated in 1831.

The Honesdale Residential Historic District and Delaware and Hudson Canal are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[3]

Birthplace of American railroading[edit]

Honesdale is home to the first commercial steam locomotive run on rails in the United States, the Stourbridge Lion. On August 8, 1829, the Stourbridge Lion started in Honesdale, ran three miles to Seelyville, and returned; Honesdale, therefore, is known as the birthplace of the American Railroad.

The Stourbridge Lion, owned by the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company (D&H) was regrettably considered too heavy for further use. D&H transported anthracite coal from mines near Carbondale to New York City via Honesdale and Kingston, New York. Coal was moved by a unique gravity-railroad from the mines to Honesdale where it was transferred to barges and transported via a 108-mile canal to Kingston, NY, from where it was shipped by river barges down the Hudson River to New York City.

The Wayne County Historical Society Museum contains a full-scale replica of the Stourbridge Lion; the Society also displays many historical photographs, artifacts and other exhibits. The museum is on Main Street and was once the D&H Canal Co. office. It is a beautiful brick structure. The Wayne County Chamber of Commerce has been hosting Rail Excursions and Historical Tours, starting on track behind the Museum, during spring, summer, fall, and Christmas seasons.

Parts of the original Stourbridge Lion are on display at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.


Honesdale is located at 41°34′27″N 75°15′21″W / 41.57417°N 75.25583°W / 41.57417; -75.25583 (41.574214, -75.255966).[4]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 4.0 square miles (10 km2), of which, 3.9 square miles (10 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (2.5%) is water of the Lackawaxen River, through the heart of the town, and its confluence with Dyberry Creek. The waters contain fish and other aquatic life and attract hundreds of ducks, as well as eagles and other raptors.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 2,263
1860 2,544 12.4%
1870 2,654 4.3%
1880 2,620 −1.3%
1890 2,816 7.5%
1900 2,864 1.7%
1910 2,945 2.8%
1920 2,756 −6.4%
1930 5,490 99.2%
1940 5,687 3.6%
1950 5,662 −0.4%
1960 5,569 −1.6%
1970 5,224 −6.2%
1980 5,128 −1.8%
1990 4,972 −3.0%
2000 4,874 −2.0%
2010 4,480 −8.1%
Est. 2012 4,341 −3.1%

As of the census of 2010, there were 4,480 people, 2,086 households, and 1,147 families residing in the borough. The population density was 1,148.7 people per square mile (443.5/km²). There were 2,357 housing units at an average density of 604.4 per square mile (236.1/km²). The racial makeup of the borough was 96.8% White, 0.9% African American, 0.1% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 0.6% from other races, and 1.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.8% of the population.

There were 2,086 households out of which 26.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.8% were married couples living together, 14.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45% were non-families. 39.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.15 and the average family size was 2.88.

In the borough the population was spread out with 22.4% under the age of 18, 58.8% from 18 to 64, and 18.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years.

The median income for a household in the borough was $32,644, and the median income for a family was $42,088. Males had a median income of $33,553 versus $30,179 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $20,122. About 19.1% of families and 19.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.4% of those under age 18 and 10.7% of those age 65 or over.

Local business and media[edit]

The daily newspaper, The Wayne Independent, was established at Honesdale in 1878, and emphasizes local stories. The Wayne Independent publishes Tuesday through Saturday.

The local radio stations are WDNH 95.3 FM and WPSN 104.3FM, 101.9FM and 1590am. In addition to local news, events, and weather, WPSN broadcasts the Honesdale Hornets High School football games every Friday night during football season.

The hospital serving Honesdale and the surrounding communities is Wayne Memorial Hospital. It is a successful and progressive nonprofit community hospital of 114 beds and does approximately 75 million dollars of net revenue of business annually. The Hospital offers a wide array of advanced health services and is clinically affiliated with the Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers and The Commonwealth Medical College.

Places and activities[edit]

  • Honesdale, the County seat, hosts the annual Wayne County Fair, starting on the first Friday in August as it has for over a century. The Fair spans nine days and draws thousands of visitors. It features typical county-fair events like horse racing, tractor pulling, livestock exhibits, concerts and other entertainments, many rides for children, crafts, home goods, and much more.
  • The famous children's magazine Highlights for Children was founded in Honesdale in 1946. The publisher maintains its editorial headquarters on Church St. in Honesdale, while their business offices are in Ohio.
  • Honesdale was home to the Roman Catholic St. Vincent's Elementary School, located on Cliff Street. The school closed at the end of the 2008-2009 school year after declining enrollment.[8] Nonetheless, two Catholic churches continue with vigorous participation, as do churches of other denominations and a synagogue.
  • Honesdale has hundreds of Victorian age structures, and features several tall church steeples, historically significant buildings of many kinds, and a memorial Central Park beside the Wayne County Courthouse. While current zoning laws do not require building remodelling to remain historically accurate, the vast majority of houses and structures remain architecturally as they were constructed, often more than a century past.
  • Irving Cliff, 300 feet high, named for Washington Irving who loved its prominence, overlooks the town and offers a compelling view of the confluence of the Lackawaxen River and Dyberry Creek and virtually everything else in the valley. The cliff is surmounted by a 50 foot electric framework for a Christmas Star and Easter Cross that are visible for miles during holiday nights. Fireworks are fired from the cliff for July 4 festivities.
  • The Honesdale Roots and Rhythm Music and Arts Festival is held throughout Honesdale on the third Saturday in June. The main stage is set up along Court Street playing to festival goers in Central Park. Artists and food vendors are lined along the park on 9th and 10th Streets. Several other stages are set up throughout the town offering music all day. The festival was established in 2006.[9]

Notable people[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Schrute Farms, the bed and breakfast beet farm belonging to Dwight Schrute on NBC's sitcom The Office, is listed as a Honesdale establishment on TripAdvisor.com.
  • Wet Hot American Summer is a 2001 camp-set comedy directed by David Wain. The movie was shot mainly at Camp Towanda in Honesdale with some photography taking place in Honesdale's downtown.
  • Honesdale is mentioned in the opening scene of the movie The Ten starring Paul Rudd of Wet Hot American Summer.
  • The Long Kiss Goodnight is a 1996 action thriller film which stars Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson. Davis plays a Honesdale schoolteacher-wife-mother who suffers from amnesia, and who eventually learns that she was a trained assassin before losing her memory. Although Honesdale is mentioned in the film, the film was not shot in Honesdale.
  • Although the movie Playing for Keeps was filmed mainly in nearby Bethany, Pennsylvania, scenes were filmed at the old Miracle Market on 6th Street in Honesdale. Additional scenes were filmed in nearby Hawley, Pennsylvania, and a field along Pennsylvania State Route 191 near Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania. The movie was released on October 3, 1986, and starred Daniel Jordano, Matthew Penn, Leon W. Grant, Mary B. Ward and Marisa Tomei.
  • Blue Valentine, a movie starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, started filming in Honesdale and the surrounding areas in spring 2009, and was released in the United States on December 26, 2010.


  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  2. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  3. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  5. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  7. ^ "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Resident Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ Honesdale Roots and Rhythm

External links[edit]