Owned by the Lehigh Valley Railroad (LVRR), Luzerne Grove was a popular picnic and excursion stop in the late 1800s. The park was open from 1882 through the early 1890s (possibly 1892 or 1894), and may have been home to a carousel and dance pavilion, along with picnic facilities and other attractions.
Heading from Fairview (Mountain Top) to Wilkes-Barre, the LVRR track turned westward on the north face of Penobscot Mountain, and travelled past the Hanover Reservoir to an area near Newport, where the present day Alden Mountain Road runs. Here the track made a fairly sharp curve back to the east and passed Warrior Run and Sugar Notch before heading into Wilkes-Barre. It was along this stretch of track, near Warrior Run, where the Espy Run siding was located, and Luzerne Grove was likely located.
An editorial appearing in a Kansas newspaper in 1883 described the park as opening the previous year along a section of the Lehigh Valley Railroad on Wilkes-Barre Mountain. The article notes it was a large investment for the railroad company, but was returned with passenger revenue as the grounds were often full of picnickers and groups holding their outings in the first two years of operation. The success of the park in 1882 may have helped the Central Railroad of New Jersey decide to open Mountain Park in 1883.
Labor and fraternal organizations, churches and other groups often chartered excursions to the picnic grounds. The Mount Pisgah Council of Jr. Order of United American Mechanics of Mauch Chunk held its first annual excursion to Luzerne Grove on August 24, 1883. The Lutheran Sunday School in Lehighton held a picnic the following August. Accounts of the park all remark of the beautiful scenery in the grove and of the spectacular surrounding views.
In 1886, Howard Smith of the Lehighton area moved his photograph studio to the park for the summer season. Over 4,000 attended the Knights of Labor picnic held on August 23rd of that same year. On July 19th, 1887, the four day camp-meeting of the Pennsylvania State Temperance Union opened at the park, with workers from across the state in attendance. August 24th of 1891 saw the Caledonian sports being held at Luzerne Grove.
The last contemporary account found which notes the park is from 1892. The Ancient Order of Hiberians of Pennsylvania held their picnic at Luzerne Grove on June 15th of that year. The article on the preparations for their state convention notes that additional stands were erected at the park to accommodate the expected crowds.
After the park closed, it is possible some of the equipment, stands, etc. were moved to the Lehigh Valley Railroad Picnic Grounds (later known as Hanson’s) at Harvey’s Lake, which was being developed around 1890. It is unclear if the carousel, if it existed, was moved there as well. The carousel may have ended up at Hanover Park (later called Sans Souci), which was also just being built in the early 1890s.
The Truesdale Colliery began operations on May 4, 1903, on a site known as Luzerne Grove, which was referred to as “practically a wilderness.” If built on land where the park was previously located, it surely wiped out any trace of the former picnic grounds.
A park known as Pine Grove was also reportedly operating in Warrior Run in the 1880s and 1890s. Located uphill from the end of the trolley line on Chestnut Street, the park was said to have a ¼ mile race track used for foot races, a dancing pavilion, swings, stands and other picnic equipment. It is unclear if this is the same park as Luzerne Grove, or another picnic grove also located in the Warrior Run area.
It is important to note that Luzerne Grove was separate and unrelated to Mountain Park, which was located just outside of Wilkes-Barre along the Central Railroad of New Jersey’s tracks. The two parks are sometimes confused in some sources as they were both located along rail lines, and both operated around the same time in the late 1800s.
Last updated: 6/15/2013
- Harvey’s Lake, by F. Charles Petrillo
- A History of Sans Souci Park, by C. Charles Ciesla
- Wilkes-Barre Record Almanac 1892
- A Selection of Cases Under the Interstate Commerce Act, 1911
- Report of the Department of Mines of Pennsylvania, 1907
- Sunday Independent, October 2, 1983
- New York Times, July 20, 1887
- The Carbon Advocate, August 11, 1883; September 1, 1883; August 9, 1884; June 12, 1886
- The Saline County Journal, October 11, 1883
- The Stark County Democrat, August 26, 1886
- The Leader, June 12, 1892
- A History of Warrior Run Borough
- Map of the Pennsylvania Railroads, 1884, available from the Library of Congress