Phoebe Snow

In a corner of the shop are four railroad signs honoring local railroading history.  One of the signs is the Lackawanna Railroad's Phoebe Snow line.  Let me tell you about the route of the Phoebe Snow and its connection to the anthracite coal mines here in North Eastern Pennsylvania. 

In the late 1800's into the early 1900's, when anyone would ride on a train, people would get dirty from the soot that came from burning bituminous coal.   Contrary to this, the Lackawanna Railroad used anthracite coal in their trains.  Anthracite, being a more pure coal, did not produce the black sooty smoke like bituminous coal.  Wanting to promote this, the Lackawanna Railroad commissioned  Earnest Elmo Calkins to produce an advertising campaign  emphasizing their clean coal burning  trains  thus, Phoebe Snow was born. 

The campaign painted Phoebe Snow, a New York Socialite,  as always wearing a white dress.  The railroads first advertisement poster  featured a picture of Phoebe Snow and this short poem;

"Says Phoebe Snow

about to go

upon a trip to Buffalo

"My gown stays white

from morn till night

Upon the Road of Anthracite"

She soon became the mascot of the Lackawanna Railroad and was one of the most recognized advertisement characters in the United States. 

During World War I, anthracite was needed for the war effort and the use was prohibited on railroads.  Calkins, knowing that the Phoebe Snow would no longer able to ride the rails of the Lackawanna, produced one last advertisement saying farewell to the anthracite run train. 

Miss Phoebe's trip

without a slip

is almost o'er

Her trunk and grip

are right and tight

without a slight

"Good bye, old Road of Anthracite!"

Phoebe Snow made a comeback in 1949 when the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (DL&W) established a new streamline passenger train.  The trains route ran across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the Southern Tier of New York. While in New Jersey it would pass over the Paulinskill Viaduct and the Delaware River Viaduct of the Lackawanna Cut-off, and in Pennsylvania, it would go over the Tunkhannock Viaduct.  The line was called the Phoebe Snow and last ran in 1966.

Phoebe Snow will forever be linked to Lackawanna Railroad history and our coal region history because the anthracite coal that powered the Lackawanna Railroad was mined here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.