Honesdale’s foundation as the town we know it to be now began with the discovery of coal in the nearby Lackawanna Valley. Coal traveled by gravity railroad into Honesdale and was then transported to New York City by the Delaware and Hudson Canal which was completed in 1828. The investment of more than $1 million that funded the creation of the canal was the largest private investment in America at that time. Philip Hone, mayor of New York City, was the President of the D&H Canal Company that built the canal. The town, called Dyberry Forks previously, was incorporated as Honesdale in 1831 in his honor.
Honesdale is regarded as the birthplace of the American Railroad. Seeking an alternative to the gravity railway, the D&H Canal Company brought the Stourbridge Lion to Honesdale where it was the first steam locomotive to ever run on American soil in 1829. Unfortunately, the Lion took only two trial runs before it was determined that it was too heavy and could not be supported by the wooden tracks.
One notable Honesdale resident is General Lyman Lemnitzer, who graduated from Honesdale High School in 1917 and went on to attend West Point, play a pivotal role in the invasion of North Africa during World War II and ultimately become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President John F. Kennedy in 1960.
Wayne Highlands School District is the public school district for most of Northern Wayne County. Ranking 10th out of 298 Pennsylvania public schools in the Pittsburgh Business Time’s list of Overachieving PA schools, Wayne Highlands states that its mission is “to promote a school community alliance dedicated to: Dynamic Educational Processes, Success for All Students, Lifelong Learning, and Respect for Oneself and Society.”
Wayne County is the third fastest growing county in the state!It has a little bit of everything – lakes, forests, farmland, small towns and rolling hills. The county seat, Honesdale, is a quaint town with beautiful architecture and an abundant history. Wayne County is just 35 miles from the Scranton/Wilkes Barre area and within easy driving distance of New York City and Philadelphia.
The terrain of Northern Wayne County offers a vast array of outdoor activity options. Prompton State Park, a 1,500 acre piece of publicly owned land just outside of Honesdale, has trails for hiking, cross country skiing, mountain biking, and snowshoeing. Its 280 acre lake is a prime location for fishing and paddling. Hunting is available in certain portions of the park. There is an 18 hole disc golf course in the park, as well.
A guided outdoor adventure can be arranged at Northeast Wilderness Experience, where experienced guides can take you hiking, climbing, kayaking, tubing, biking or snowshoeing all around Northern Wayne County.
Less daring ways of enjoying the outdoors include a weekly Farmer’s Market at the Cooperage project, golf at the Memorial Links Course in nearby Waymart or horseback riding at the Triple W Stables.
Skiing and snowboarding are within easy distance of Wayne County. Elk Mountain boasts 27 trails of varying levels and two terrain parks. Ski Big Bear offers 18 trails and gorgeous views.
- Cherry Township
- Texas Township
- Honesdale Borough
- Berlin Township
- Dyberry Township
- Oregon Township
- Damascus Township
- Lebanon Township
The town of Honesdale offers many unique shopping experiences. One such experience can be found at the Wallflower Boutique where stylish décor, clothing and jewelry can be browsed in the eclectic shop. Or check out A Picker’s Find – an antique shop that is more than an antique shop. Beyond their variety of antiques, they carry locally handcrafted pieces and high quality thrift items.
The Cooperage Project offers regular musical performances as well as classes in dancing, cooking and making music.
Harmony Presents (in the Boiler Room) is a live music venue in nearby Hawley’s newly renovated Silk Mill. The venue brings local and regional band and solo acts in many different genres including blues, rock, folk, bluegrass and country.
Events and Attractions
- The annual Honesdale Roots & Rhythm Music & Arts Festival is a one day free event that fills the town with live blues musical performances and showcases local fine artists and their work.
- Honesdale for the Holidays kicks off the holiday season just after Thanksgiving. The two day event features the annual Santa Parade, holiday music in the pavilion and the presence of carolers, Santa, and Rudolph around town. A free Holiday Trolley will take you through town – a great way to visit the open houses at all of the shops and get some holiday shopping out of the way.
- The Wayne County Fair, held each year in the beginning of August, has been an area tradition for more than 150 years. Featuring livestock exhibits and contests, horse-racing, thrill shows, vendors, music, food, games and rides, nearly 100,000 people visited the Wayne County Fair in 2013.
- The Honesdale Fire Museum allows visitors to view the still fully functioning Silsby Steam Engine No. 483 which was built in 1874 as well as other fire-fighting memorabilia from Honesdale history.
- The Wayne County Historical Society is where the Stourbridge Lion replica is displayed, along with other local history exhibits.
- Carousel Water & Fun Park in Beach Lake, PA offers water slides, a wading pool, bumper boats, go-karts, miniature golf and a game room to anyone looking for summer fun.
- Fresh and local meat, produce, dairy products and other local goods can be found at one of Honesdale’s two farmers markets. Check out the Farmer’s Market at the Cooperage Project or the Wayne County Farmer’s Market in front of the Wayne County Visitor’s Center.
- Cricket Hill Golf Club offers Wayne County’s only 18 hole golf course. A round of golf there is a great way to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the area.
- The Dorflinger Glass Museum, exhibits a large collection of glass pieces produced by the Dorflinger Glass Company between 1851 and 1921. The museum is located on the Dorflinger Wildlife Sanctuary which strives to promote preservation of woodlands and open spaces in the area. The Wildflower Music Festival brings jazz, bluegrass and folk acts to the Sanctuary grounds every summer.
- Lacawac Sanctuary in nearby Lake Ariel is a nature preserve centered around Lake Lacawac where visitors can hike the trails or take a tour of the historic buildings on site, including the Lodge which is commonly regarded as first vacation home built in the Poconos.
Find many brochures on other area attractions in the Wayne County Visitor’s Center.