HAWLEY - A bus tour sponsored by the Wayne County Tourism Promotion Committee included the recounting of the rail service industry in the borough.
Tour participants visited numerous places of historical significance in Wayne County, including Hawley and Bingham Park in the borough.
Local historian Tom Kennedy, who oversaw the tour, said Hawley was once a major player in the railroad industry.
Among the depots in the borough was the Erie Railroad Station, whose east depot was in the Eddy section on Welwood Avenue. The west depot was near Hawley Public Library on Main Avenue, where an old passenger car is on display.
The Erie rail yards extended across Route 6 and required 24-hour crossing guards to raise and lower the gates for coal trains.
Kennedy said that at the peak of operations, in the 1860s, about four million tons of coal passed through Hawley.
Locomotives came through the borough in the 1860s, when a 16-mile spur of the Erie railroad was completed from Lackawaxen to Hawley.
The coal cars leaving Hawley each contained six or seven tons of coal.
After the cars were weighed they were hauled about 300 feet to a rail crossing by an old calico horse. When the track was filled with loaded cars, an engine would be attached and drawn slowly over the scales to weigh the tonnage.
The first locomotives out of Hawley burned wood, pulled up to 1,000 tons and did not exceed 10 or 12 miles an hour.
Twenty ton cars were later used as the demand for anthracite increased.
The coal pockets were abandoned in the late 1800s when in 1885 when the line between Dunmore and Hawley was replaced with the Erie & Wyoming Valley Railroad.
That line lasted into the 1960s, with the tracks extending across Columbus Avenue and through the area now occupied by Hawley Volunteer Fire Company.
The Erie & Wyoming made several trips a day between Hawley and Dunmore, with several stops in between. Each had its own depot, such as at Hoadleys in Cherry Ridge, Lake Ariel, Gravity and Wimmers in the Mount Cobb area.
The Erie also had several depots between Hawley and Lackawaxen, including Kimbles, Glen Eyre and Rowland.
The Erie railroad, during its heyday in the 1860s, also connected Hawley to Honesdale.
The rail service would run east through Lackawaxen to White Mills and Honesdale.
The Erie & Wyoming stopped passenger service in the 1930s and a flood in the 1940s caused extensive damage to the facilities in Hawley.
Passenger service between Honesdale and Hawley ended in 1942.
The falloff of the coal industry and improving roads caused the decline of freight and passenger train service to decline.
The line from Hawley to Dunmore was abandoned in the 1960s.