Carbondale, Pennsylvania

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Carbondale, Pennsylvania
Carbondale City Hall and Courthouse
The Pioneer City
Location of Carbondale in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania.
Location of Carbondale in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania.
Carbondale is located in Pennsylvania
Location of Carbondale in Pennsylvania
Carbondale is located in the United States
Carbondale (the United States)
Coordinates: 41°34′N 75°30′W / 41.567°N 75.500°W / 41.567; -75.500Coordinates: 41°34′N 75°30′W / 41.567°N 75.500°W / 41.567; -75.500
CountryUnited States
 • MayorJustin Taylor[1] (D)
 • Total3.24 sq mi (8.40 km2)
 • Land3.24 sq mi (8.40 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
1,076 ft (328 m)
 • Total8,891
 • Estimate 
 • Density2,584.95/sq mi (998.06/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP Code
Area code(s)570 Exchanges: 281, 282
FIPS code42-11232

Carbondale is a city in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, United States.[4] Carbondale is located approximately 15 miles due northeast of the city of Scranton in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The population was 8,891 at the 2010 census.

The land area that became Carbondale was developed by William and Maurice Wurts, the founders of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company, during the rise of the anthracite coal mining industry[4] in the early 19th century. It was also a major terminal of the Delaware and Hudson Railroad. Carbondale was the site of the first deep vein anthracite coal mine[5] in the United States, and was the site of the Carbondale mine fire which burned from 1946 to the early 1970s.

Like many other cities and towns in the region, Carbondale has struggled with the demise of the once-prominent coal mining industry that had once made the region a haven for immigrants seeking work so many decades ago. Immigrants from Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland, Italy and from throughout continental Europe came to Carbondale in the course of the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries to work in the anthracite and railroading industries.


According to the United States Census Bureau, Carbondale has a total area of 3.2 square miles (8.3 km2), all of it land.


Historical population
Census Pop.

As of the census[9] of 2010, there were 8,891 people, 3,734 households, and 2,234 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,778.4 people per square mile (1,072.7/km2). There were 4,144 housing units at an average density of 1,295 per square mile (505.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 96.2% White, 1% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 0.7% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.1% of the population.

There were 3,734 households, out of which 26.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37% were married couples living together, 17.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.2% were non-families. 35.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 17% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.98.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 23.1% under the age of 18, 57.3% from 18 to 64, and 19.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,574, and the median income for a family was $35,351. Males had a median income of $30,362 versus $21,922 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,914. About 9.2% of families and 14.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.6% of those under age 18 and 11.0% of those age 65 or over.


Today, the Carbondale Historical Society and Museum records and maintains that history. The Carbondale City Hall and Courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.[10] The Delaware and Hudson Canal Gravity Railroad Shops have been demolished, but were once listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[10]

The Carbondale mine fire began in Carbondale in 1946.[11]

Notable "firsts"[edit]

  • 1829: the Delaware and Hudson Gravity Railroad from Carbondale to Honesdale began operations on October 9, 1829. This was the first commercially successful railroad to operate in America.
  • 1833: the first Saint Patrick's Day parade in what is now Lackawanna County is held in Carbondale, as stated in the Scranton Times-Tribune: “It comes as no surprise that the Irish people of Carbondale would want to celebrate the patron saint of their homeland. [. . .] The Feb. 28, 1833, issue of the Northern Pennsylvanian, the first newspaper published in Carbondale, contained a notice to “Hibernians” of a public meeting to be held [. . .] ‘for the purpose of taking measures to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.’ [. . .] The Carbondale parade is the first one mentioned in any history of the region that is now Lackawanna County.”[12]
  • 1850: the first eisteddfod (a Welsh musical and literary festival) in America was held in Carbondale on Christmas Day, 1850. Among the literarians and musicians who attended were Daniel Davies, Rev. John Moses, Thomas Eynon, Rev. Thomas J. Phillips, and Edward Jones. These were the pioneer eisteddofdwyr of America.
  • 1851: Carbondale was incorporated as a city in Luzerne County on March 15, 1851,[13] making it the oldest city (the "Pioneer" city) in what later became Lackawanna County, and the fourth oldest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
  • 1853: the first lodge in America of the ancient Welsh fraternal order of Ivorites was opened in Carbondale in the fall of 1853; the first public Ivorite celebration in America took place in Carbondale in August 1855, when a procession and other public exercises took place, under the direction of Thomas Voyle, Esquire, chief marshal, and Edward Roberts, Esquire.

Notable people[edit]


Map of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania public school districts Showing Carbondale Area School District in light blue in upper right corner

There are two public schools located within the City of Carbondale. They are operated by the Carbondale Area School District. [1] The district has a low enrollment of 1,660 pupils in 2016, due to adding free preschool classes. The district encompasses a small area of 18.6 square miles (48 km2). The district operates two schools: Carbondale Area Elementary School (Preschool-6) and Carbondale Area Junior Senior High School (7th–12th).[15]

In 2016, the Pittsburgh Business Times ranked Carbondale Area School District declined to 417th out of 493 public school districts for academic achievement of its pupils.[16] In 2012, Carbondale Area School District declined to Warning Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status, due to lagging student academic achievement.[17] In October 2015, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale reported that Carbondale Elementary School was among the 561 academically challenged schools that have been overlooked by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[18][19] He also reported the Pennsylvania Department of Education failed to take any action to remediate the poorly performing schools to raise student academic achievement or to provide them with targeted professional assistance.[20]

Carbondale Area School District's graduation rate in 2016 declined to 87%. In 2014 and 2015 it had been 89%[21] High school aged students can attend the taxpayer funded Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County, for training in the building trades, auto mechanics, culinary arts, allied health careers and other areas.

Carbondale residents may also apply to attend any of the Commonwealth's 13 public cyber charter schools (in 2015) at no additional cost to the parents. The resident's public school district is required to pay the charter school and cyber charter school tuition for residents who attend these public schools.[22][23] The tuition rate that Carbondale Area School District must pay was $8,999 in 2015. In 2014–15, Carbondale Area School District reported spending $13,401.58 per pupil.[24] By Commonwealth law, if the district provides transportation for its own students, then the district must provide transportation to any school that lies within 10 miles of its borders. Residents may also seek admission for their school aged child to any other public school district. When accepted for admission, the student's parents are responsible for paying an annual tuition fee set by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit IU#19 provides a wide variety of services to children living in its region, which includes Carbondale. Early screening, special education services, speech and hearing therapy, autistic support, preschool classes and many other services like driver education are available. Services for children during the preschool years are provided without cost to their families when the child is determined to meet eligibility requirements. Intermediate units receive taxpayer funding: through subsidies paid by member school districts; through direct charges to users for some services; through the successful application for state and federal competitive grants and through private grants.[25]


The demographic and economic decline beginning in the 1950s with the end of the coal mining industry has left its mark on education. At one time, the City of Carbondale had one public high school, ten public elementary schools, one private Catholic high school, and two private Catholic elementary schools which served a city of just over 23,000 citizens. Over the decades, changes to education, the dramatic population decline down to 8,800 in the 2010 Census, and the disappearance of religious orders have reduced the number of schools to the two mentioned above. Sacred Heart Elementary, formed as a result of the merger between the parochial Mt. Carmel and St. Rose Elementary Schools for the 1998–1999 school year, closed at the end of the 2010–2011 school year and integrated into LaSalle Academy Catholic School in Dickson City. From a peak enrollment in the 1960s of nearly 650 in a K-12 system served in three schools, the school's enrollment has declined to 186.

Fell Charter Elementary School[edit]

Fell Charter Elementary School provides a free, public education to children in Carbondale since 2002. In 2016 enrollment was 175 pupils kindergarten through 8th grade.[26] The school had an enrollment of 157 for the 2011–12 school year. The school offers full-day kindergarten through 8th grade. It employs 24 teachers, including art, music and physical education. Fell Charter Elementary School has a longer school day; class begins at 7:45 am and ends at 3:15 pm. It moved into the former elementary school building in August 2011. Six area school districts provide bussing to the school, including Carbondale Area School District. The school made AYP in 2009 and 2010. The attendance rate in 2010 was 94%.[27][28] The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the charter school's grant and loan application in January 2010. The school received a $5 million loan to build a new school facility.[29]

Academic achievement (reading, math, science 3rd – 8th) at Fell Charter School has exceeded the performance of Carbondale Elementary School on PSSA tests. The School Performance Profile of Fell Charter School was 72 out of 100 points in 2016.[30] Carbondale Elementary School School Performance Profile was just 56.6 points out of 100.[31]

  • 2015 – SPPs for all PA public schools withheld by PDE
  • 2014 – Fell – 79.6,[32] Carbondale ES – 62.5[33]
  • 2013 – Fell CS – 73.4,[34] Carbondale ES – 58.5[35]
  • 2012 – Fell CS – Warning AYP status,[36] Carbondale ES Warning AYP status[37]

The opening of the charter school was aggressively opposed by the Carbondale Area School Board. When the application to open the Fell Charter Elementary School was denied by the Board in 2002, an appeal was made to the State Charter Appeals Board (CAB). The CAB approved the charter school. The Carbondale Area School Board unsuccessfully sued against the opening.[38] Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the order of the Charter Appeals Board.



U.S. Business Route 6 runs down Main Street, Carbondale, as the main highway through the city. Recently completed after years of highly visible construction, the four-lane Robert P. Casey Memorial Highway U.S. Route 6 runs from Interstate 81 near Scranton north past Carbondale with interchanges outside, but close to, the city limits.


As the city responsible for the importation of America's first steam locomotive, the Stourbridge Lion in 1829, Carbondale was once a main terminus of the Delaware and Hudson Railway. It was also served by the Erie Railroad and the New York, Ontario and Western Railway.

Today Carbondale is served by the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority and its designated-operator Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad on a single remaining D&H mainline track running to Scranton, now called the Carbondale Mainline.

Steamtown National Historic Site on occasion provides excursion trains originating from the Scranton Yard to the Carbondale Station for special events.[39]


Carbondale is served by the County of Lackawanna Transit System (COLTS).

Local transportation[edit]

Carbondale is served by the #52 and #82 lines, run by COLTS bus.


WCDL-AM 1440 has served the area since 1950. Co-owned WTRW broadcasts on 94.5 FM.

In popular culture[edit]

  • Carbondale holds an annual festival every summer called Pioneer Days, in honor of Carbondale's nickname, The Pioneer City. The festival features local bands, arts and crafts, carnival games, festival food, and a fireworks display.
  • Carbondale was mentioned in "The Injury", an episode of NBC's television series The Office. "I got your pudding cups at a gas station in Carbondale", says the character Ryan Howard (played by actor B.J. Novak). It was also mentioned in the episode "Niagara", when Dwight Schrute, played by Rainn Wilson, mentions that Pam's best friend Isabel is "a dental hygienist from Carbondale and makes love like one." In the episode "Goodbye, Michael" Michael is initially unable to say goodbye to Pam because she is supposedly away pricing shredders in Carbondale.
  • Carbondale was mentioned in "Chapter 9", an episode of Netflix's television series House of Cards (U.S. TV series). "We were supposed to leave for Carbondale 10 minutes ago."
  • Annual Saint David's Day Dinner, March 1: hosted by the Historical Society to commemorate the Welsh roots of the City of Carbondale and to celebrate the Welsh heritage of a great many residents of the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valleys in Pennsylvania.
  • Annual Crystal Band Christmas Concert takes place on the first Sunday in December, hosted by the Historical Society and the Berean Baptist Church. The Crystal Band, founded in the Petersburg section of Scranton in 1887, is an all-volunteer concert band that is made up of residents from throughout northeastern Pennsylvania.
  • The independent film Wanda was filmed in Carbondale and the surrounding region.
  • The song “Duquesne Whistle” on the album Tempest by Bob Dylan mentions Carbondale in the song's first verse. “I’m gonna stop in Carbondale and keep on going.”
  • the 2010 film "Blue Valentine" was filmed, in part, in Carbondale.[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Robert Golomb; The Published Reporter, Democratic Mayor Justin Taylor: Why Many Pennsylvanians Now Say “The Road To The White House Runs Through Carbondale”
  2. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  3. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Carbondale" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  5. ^ Tablet Marking The Site of The First Underground Coal Mine in Carbondale
  6. ^ "1940 Census – Census of Population and Housing – U.S. Census Bureau". Archived from the original on 2010-03-27. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
  7. ^ "1960 Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on 2010-05-05. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
  8. ^ "1990 Census of Population and Housing Unit Counts United States" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-09-03.
  9. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  10. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  11. ^ Ann G. Kim; Thomas R. Justin; John F. Miller, Mine Fire Diagnostics Applied to the Carbondale, PA Mine Fire Site (PDF), retrieved June 1, 2014
  12. ^ The Sunday Times, 6 March 2011, "Scranton's Green Party," Page P3, Scranton
  13. ^ Hollister, Horace (1885). History of the Lackawanna Valley. Lippincott. p. 488.
  14. ^ National news media
  15. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2016). "Carbondale Area School District Fast Facts".
  16. ^ Pittsburgh Business Times, Guide to Pennsylvania Schools Statewide ranking 2016, April 5, 2016
  17. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education, Carbondale Area School District AYP Overview 2012, September 21, 2012
  18. ^ Pennsylvania Auditor General Office (October 6, 2015). "561 Academically Challenged Schools Overlooked by the Department of Education" (PDF).
  19. ^ Joe Sylvester (October 7, 2015). "8 schools in Valley jilted, audit reveals". The Daily Item.
  20. ^ Pennsylvania Auditor General Office (October 7, 2015). "Special Performance Audit Report – Pennsylvania Department of Education" (PDF).
  21. ^ PDE, Graduation rate by LEA, 2015
  22. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2013). "Charter Schools".
  23. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2013). "What is a Charter School?".
  24. ^ PDE (2016). "Finances Elements 2014–15 Selected Data".
  25. ^ Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit 19 Administration, About the NEIU 19, 2016
  26. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2016). "Fell Charter School Fast facts".
  27. ^ PDE, FELL Charter School – School AYP Data Table, 2010
  28. ^ PDE, Fell Charter School Academic Achievement Report Card 2010, October 2010
  29. ^ Steve McConnell (June 16, 2010). "Fell Charter School receives $5M federal grant for new facility". News Valley Advantage.
  30. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2016). "Fell Charter School Academic Performance Report 2016".
  31. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2016). "Carbondale Area Elementary School SPP 2016".
  32. ^ PDE, Fell CS SPP 2014, 2014
  33. ^ PDE, Carbondale ES SPP 2014, 2014
  34. ^ PDE, Fell CS SPP 2013, 2013
  35. ^ PDE, Carbondale ES SPP 2013, 2013
  36. ^ PDE, Fell Charter School AYP 2012, 2012
  37. ^ PDE, Carbondale Area Elementary School AYP 2012, 2012
  38. ^ Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania (July 23, 2003). "Carbondale Area School District V Fell Charter School".
  39. ^ "Carbondale-Line Excursions".
  40. ^ "New 'Blue Valentine' movie has local ties".