Nicholson, Pennsylvania

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Borough of Nicholson
Overhead view of Nicholson and Tunkhannock Viaduct
Motto: Population 1,000. Hospitality for 1,000,000
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Wyoming
Elevation 728 ft (221.9 m)
Coordinates 41°37′30″N 75°46′59″W / 41.62500°N 75.78306°W / 41.62500; -75.78306Coordinates: 41°37′30″N 75°46′59″W / 41.62500°N 75.78306°W / 41.62500; -75.78306
Area 1.2 sq mi (3.1 km2)
 - land 1.2 sq mi (3 km2)
 - water 0.01 sq mi (0 km2), 0.83%
Population 767 (2010)
Density 639.2 / sq mi (246.8 / km2)
Founded August 23, 1875
Mayor Ann Marie Aylesworth
Timezone EST (UTC-5)
 - summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP Code 18446
Area code 570 Exchange: 942
Location of Nicholson in Pennsylvania
Location of Pennsylvania in the United States

Nicholson is a borough in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 767 at the 2010 census.


Information in this section is from the Nicholson Heritage Association's website,[1] please cite. Incorporated by a charter granted on August 23, 1875, Nicholson is a borough in Pennsylvania’s rural Wyoming County that, according to U.S. Census data, had an estimated population of 658 in 2008. Just five years after being incorporated, there were 586 residents in Nicholson, according to the 1880 U.S. Census.

The borough government structure consists of a mayor whom is elected every four years and a council of six members whom are elected for overlapping four year terms. The council members are elected from each of the borough’s two wards, three from each ward.

The borough was named after John Nicholson, former comptroller general of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 1782 to 1794 who greatly influenced our early Nation. Although at one time he held millions of acres of land in Pennsylvania, he died in a Philadelphia debtor’s prison in 1800. There are two other Pennsylvania municipalities named after John Nicholson: Nicholson Township, also in Wyoming County, and Nicholson Township, located in Fayette County.

Nicholson is located where three streams become one: Tunkhannock Creek, Marten Creek and Horton Brook. The largest of the three, the Tunkhannock Creek flows from the northeast and whose name comes from the Lenape Indian name meaning “two small streams opposite each other merging to become one.” Marten Creek flows from the north and is named for the weasel-like creatures that once had lived along the stream banks. Horton Brook also flows from the north, but is at the western boundary of the borough, and is named for an early settler of the area Foster Horton.

Present day Nicholson was once the crossroads of two Indian trails. Although little is known about the Indians that once lived here, arrowheads and other Indian artifacts can still be found. The Iroquois sold this land around the time of the French and Indian War (1754 - 1763) to the Connecticut settlers who first named this area Thornbottom, named after all the thorny bushes in the area, Township.

A Luzerne County newspaper had an advertisement for property for sale in Nicholson in 1791. At that time, Wyoming County had yet to be established and Nicholson had yet to be incorporated.

In 1795, Nicholson Township was incorporated out of Tioga and Wyalusing townships. This tract of land was about twenty miles east to west and thirteen miles north to south.

In 1798, the Tunkhannnock and Great Bend Turnpike was built along the Tunkhannock Creek from the Susquehanna River in Tunkhannock, PA to Marten Creek in Nicholson, PA and then north along the west bank of the Marten Creek to Great Bend, PA. The turnpike followed an Indian path and by 1816, a four horse stage coach, mail and luggage passed through Nicholson three times a week each way.

In 1811, the first Post Office, called Thornbottom, Luzerne County, Nicholson Township, was established in the area about a mile south from the west end of the borough in a store run by Caleb Roberts, who was also Postmaster. In 1825, the Post Office was then moved to Bacon’s Tavern, built by Nathan Bacon at the west end of Route 92 at 153 State Street in present day Nicholson. When Nathan Bacon became Postmaster, he changed the name of the settlement to Baconville (also later referred to as Bacontown). In 1855, the Post Office was moved again to the railroad station in town, currently located off Route 11, and the name was changed to Nicholson. The United States Postal Service maintains a list of Postmasters of Nicholson.

In 1842, Wyoming County was created from part of Luzerne County.

In 1849, the Liggett’s Gap Railroad began surveying for a railroad line from Scranton, PA to Great Bend, PA with construction beginning in May 1850. Construction on the first, and largest, railroad station on the line in Nicholson began at that time and was used to board transient workers along the line before being used as a station. As mentioned above, this railroad depot still exists today and is currently owned by the Nicholson Heritage Association, who are in the process of renovating the historic building.[2] Building a rail line in Nicholson forever changed the small community.

Liggett’s Gap Railroad would later become the Lackawanna and Western Railroad in 1851 and then the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (D.L.&W.) on March 11, 1853. On March 15, 1876, the D.L.&W. converted all of its tracks from 6-foot gauge to standard gauge. The line was originally 6-foot gauge because of the D.L.&W.’s predecessor, Liggett’s Gap Railroad, connection with the Erie Railroad at Great Bend.

According to the History of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties, many associations and lodges, which some still meet today, formed in the mid to late 19th Century. The Nicholson Agricultural Society was organized in August 1867, however no longer exists. The Nicholson Lodge No. 438 of the Free and Accepted Masons was established April 7, 1869 and still meet today in the Masonic Hall at 10 Oak Street. The Nicholson Savings Fund, Building and Loan Association was established in August 1872, but no longer is in existence. Another lodge that no longer exists is the Nicholson Lodge, 857, of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows which was established on October 22, 1873. Finally, the Nicholson Cemetery Association was incorporated in 1870 and still manages the Nicholson Cemetery that is located on a sloped hill west of Nicholson’s downtown.

In February 1904, a destructive fire burned nearly half the town. In response to this fire, and previous fires, the Nicholson Fire Company #1 was chartered on February 29, 1904. The all volunteer fire company was one of the first established in the area. The Nicholson Fire Company #1's first steam engine, a Silsby Pumper with a Foxwater Tube Boiler, was delivered in 1906. This steamer was built by the American Fire Engine Company in Seneca Falls, NY.

From 1908 to 1932, the Northern Electric Railway, also known as the Scranton, Montrose & Binghamton Railroad, operated an interurban trolley line between Scranton, Lake Winola, and Montrose, PA. The Northern Electric Railway not only transported passengers, but also carried freight, including agricultural products like milk. Although the railway had planned operations to Binghamton, NY, the automobile and competition from the D.L.&W. eventually put the trolley line out of business. The original trolley station in Nicholson burned in 1926, but the successor station still exists today and is located in Nordahl Park off of State Street.

From 1912-1915, the D.L.&W., under the leadership of D.L.&W. president William H. Truesdale, undertook a major design and construction project, called the Clarks Summit-Hallstead Cutoff. Truesdale was looking for ways to modernize the railroad and make it more efficient. The final project shortened the D.L.&W. main rail line from Scranton, Pennsylvania to Binghamton, New York by 3.6 miles, lessened the steep grades that had previously required pusher engines, and straightened the rail line. The construction of the Tunkhannock Viaduct, also known as the Nicholson Bridge, was part of this significant engineering and construction endeavor. Not only did the railroad construct a smaller version of the Tunkhannock Viaduct nine miles north in Kingsley, Pennsylvania, called the Marten's (also referred to as Martin’s) Creek Viaduct, the D.L.&W. also built a 3,630 foot tunnel about two rail miles south of Nicholson. The entire cutoff, sometimes referred to as the Nicholson Cutoff, was built with two sets of tracks to allow for trains going north and trains going south at the same time. This shortened route costing $12 million saved considerable travel time between the two major cities: as much as an hour for freight trains and at least ten minutes for passenger trains. The abandoned D.L.&W. main line was turned over to the Pennsylvania Highway Department, who built the Lackawanna Trail, now Route 11, on the land which was opened for traffic in June 1922.

The town of Nicholson attracted national attention during the final week of July, 1986, when an escaped Bengal tiger was hunted in the area for several days.[3] Despite air and ground searches by state police and zoo officials, the animal was never found[4][5] Creature Chronicles


Nicholson is located at 41°37′30″N 75°46′59″W / 41.62500°N 75.78306°W / 41.62500; -75.78306 (41.624983, -75.783054).[6]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 1.2 square miles (3.1 km2), of which, 1.2 square miles (3.1 km2) of it is land and 0.01 square miles (0.026 km2) of it (0.83%) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 586
1890 734 25.3%
1900 893 21.7%
1910 852 −4.6%
1920 842 −1.2%
1930 932 10.7%
1940 731 −21.6%
1950 569 −22.2%
1960 686 20.6%
1970 877 27.8%
1980 945 7.8%
1990 857 −9.3%
2000 713 −16.8%
2010 767 7.6%
Est. 2012 754 −1.7%

As of the census[10] of 2010, there were 767 people, 302 households, and 195 families residing in the borough. The population density was 639.2 people per square mile (246.8/km2). There were 343 housing units at an average density of 285.8 per square mile (111.7/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 97% White, 0.1% African American, 0.1% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.1% some other race, and 2.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.4% of the population.

There were 302 households out of which 29.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.7% were married couples living together, 11.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.4% were non-families. 28.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.15.

In the borough the population was spread out with 25% under the age of 18, 58.3% from 18 to 64, and 16.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years.

The median income for a household in the borough was $38,650, and the median income for a family was $40,833. Males had a median income of $38,889 versus $27,813 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $21,449. About 24% of families and 24.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 41% of those under age 18 and 10.5% of those age 65 or over.


The town is represented by a weak mayor - strong council form of government.


Ann Marie Aylesworth Republican


Council Member Term Expires Party Borough Ward
Dawn Bell 2017 Republican 1
David Christensen 2015 Republican 2
Stephen Coleman 2017 Republican 1
David Noakes 2015 Republican 2
Mary Scott 2017 Democratic 1
Christian Zeme 2015 Democratic 2

Tunkhannock Viaduct[edit]

A local landmark, the Tunkhannock Viaduct, Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct or "Nicholson Bridge" has been a focal point of the Nicholson community since its completion in 1915.[11] Built by the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad from 1912 until 1915, the bridge has served many owners; DL&W, Erie-Lackawanna, Conrail, Delaware & Hudson [also operated by Guilford Transportation, and New York Susquehanna & Western] before the current owner, Canadian Pacific Railway. Canadian Pacific and Norfolk Southern trains operate over it daily between Binghamton and several other New York state locations, along with rail yards in Pennsylvania such as Scranton, Allentown and Harrisburg.

Notable People[edit]


Official website - Unofficial Website -

  1. ^ (
  2. ^ (
  3. ^ Daily Herald (Chicago) "Bengal tiger on the loose," (July 28, 1986, p7); "Tiger loose in Pennsylvania mountains?" (July 29, 1986, p3)
  4. ^ The Indiana (Pa.) Gazette "Tiger may be stray pet, caller says," (July 30, 1986, p29) "Calls, leads in Gibson tiger hunt die down," (July 31, 1986, p3)
  5. ^ Tyrone (Pa.) Daily Herald (UPI) "Was The Loose Tiger A Pet Which Finally Went Home?" (August 1, 1986, p1).
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  7. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  8. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  9. ^ "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. 
  10. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  11. ^