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Honesdale, Pennsylvania
Borough of Honesdale
Image of a red-brick courthouse in autumn.
The Wayne County Courthouse in Honesdale.
Dyberry Forks
Location in Wayne County and the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.
Location in Wayne County and the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.
Honesdale, Pennsylvania is located in Pennsylvania
Honesdale, Pennsylvania
Honesdale, Pennsylvania
Location in Pennsylvania
Honesdale, Pennsylvania is located in the United States
Honesdale, Pennsylvania
Honesdale, Pennsylvania
Location in the United States
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
US Congressional District PA-8
State Senatorial District 20
State House of Representatives District 111
County Wayne
School District Wayne Highlands
Region II
Settled 1826
Incorporated January 28, 1831
Named for Philip Hone
 • Type Mayor-council
 • Total 4.02 sq mi (10.42 km2)
 • Land 3.88 sq mi (10.05 km2)
 • Water 0.14 sq mi (0.36 km2)
981 ft (299 m)
 • Total 4,480
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,102.78/sq mi (425.81/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (Eastern Daylight (EDT))
ZIP code
Area code(s) 570 and 272
GNIS feature IDs 1192628 (Place)
1192628 (Borough)
FIPS code 42-35520
Major Roads US 6.svg PA-191.svg PA-670.svg
Waterways Bunnells Pond, Carley Brook, Dyberry Creek, Lackawaxen River

Honesdale is a borough in and the county seat of Wayne County, Pennsylvania, United States. The borough's population was 4,480 at the time of the 2010 census.

Honesdale is located 32 miles (51 km) northeast of Scranton in a rural area that provides many recreational opportunities, such as boating, fishing, hiking, hunting, skiing, biking, skateboarding, and rafting. Located in a coal mining region, during the nineteenth century it was the starting point of the Delaware and Hudson Canal, which provided for transport of coal to Kingston, New York, and then down the Hudson River to New York City. In the 19th century, the expansion of railroads eventually superseded regular use of the canal.


1890 panoramic map of Honesdale

Honesdale was named for Philip Hone, former Mayor of New York and president of Honesdale's Delaware and Hudson (D & H) Canal Company. Honesdale, originally called "Dyberry Forks," was laid out as a village in 1826 when the D & H Canal was created. It was incorporated as a borough on January 28, 1831.

The Honesdale Residential Historic District and the D & H Canal are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Birthplace of American railroading

Honesdale is home to the first commercial steam locomotive run on rails in the United States, the Stourbridge Lion. On August 8, 1829, the Stourbridge Lion started in Honesdale, ran three miles to Seelyville, and returned; Honesdale, therefore, is known as the birthplace of the American Railroad.

The Stourbridge Lion, owned by the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company (D&H) was regrettably considered too heavy for further use. D&H transported anthracite coal from mines near Carbondale to New York City via Honesdale and Kingston, New York. Coal was moved by a unique gravity-railroad from the mines to Honesdale where it was transferred to barges and transported via a 108-mile canal to Kingston, New York, then shipped by river barges down the Hudson River to New York City.

The Wayne County Historical Society Museum contains a full-scale replica of the Stourbridge Lion; the Society also displays many historical photographs, artifacts and other exhibits. The museum is on Main Street and was once the D&H Canal Co. office. It is a beautiful brick structure. The Delaware Lackawaxen & Stourbridge Railroad Company operates The Stourbidge Line Rail Excursions departing from the platform at the Wayne County Visitors Center just off Torrey Lane. Excursions run Presidents Weekend, Easter, and a full schedule from May through October, and special holiday trips in Nov. and December.

Parts of the original Stourbridge Lion are on display at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.


Honesdale is located at (41.574214, -75.255966).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 4.0 square miles (10 km2), of which, 3.9 square miles (10 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (2.5%) is water of the Lackawaxen River, through the heart of the town, and its confluence with Dyberry Creek. The waters contain fish and other aquatic life and attract hundreds of ducks, as well as eagles and other raptors.

Main St Honesdale Midtown 2016-02-23
800 Block of Main Street Honesdale


Historical population
Census Pop.
1830 433
1840 1,086 150.8%
1850 2,263 108.4%
1860 2,544 12.4%
1870 2,654 4.3%
1880 2,620 −1.3%
1890 2,816 7.5%
1900 2,864 1.7%
1910 2,945 2.8%
1920 2,756 −6.4%
1930 5,490 99.2%
1940 5,687 3.6%
1950 5,662 −0.4%
1960 5,569 −1.6%
1970 5,224 −6.2%
1980 5,128 −1.8%
1990 4,972 −3.0%
2000 4,874 −2.0%
2010 4,480 −8.1%
2019 (est.) 4,281 −4.4%

As of the census of 2010, there were 4,480 people, 2,086 households, and 1,147 families residing in the borough. The population density was 1,148.7 people per square mile (443.5/km2). There were 2,357 housing units at an average density of 604.4 per square mile (236.1/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 96.8% White, 0.9% African American, 0.1% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 0.6% from other races, and 1.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.8% of the population.

There were 2,086 households, out of which 26.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.8% were married couples living together, 14.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45% were non-families. 39.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 18.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.15 and the average family size was 2.88.

In the borough the population was spread out, with 22.4% under the age of 18, 58.8% from 18 to 64, and 18.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years.

The median income for a household in the borough was $32,644, and the median income for a family was $42,088. Males had a median income of $33,553 versus $30,179 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $20,122. About 19.1% of families and 19.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.4% of those under age 18 and 10.7% of those age 65 or over.

Places and activities

  • Honesdale, the County seat, hosts the annual Wayne County Fair, starting on the first Friday in August as it has for over a century. The Fair spans nine days and draws thousands of visitors. It features typical county-fair events like horse racing, tractor pulling, livestock exhibits, concerts and other entertainments, many rides for children, crafts, home goods, and much more.
  • The famous children's magazine Highlights for Children was founded in Honesdale in 1946. The publisher maintains its editorial headquarters on Church St. in Honesdale, while their business offices are in Ohio.
  • Honesdale High School is part of the Wayne Highlands School District. The school's sports teams are called the Hornets. The school is located on the top of Terrace Street and overlooks the town.
  • Honesdale was home to the Roman Catholic St. Vincent's Elementary School, located on Cliff Street. The school closed at the end of the 2008-2009 school year after declining enrollment. Nonetheless, two Catholic churches continue with vigorous participation, as do churches of other denominations and a synagogue.
  • Honesdale has hundreds of Victorian age structures, and features several tall church steeples, historically significant buildings of many kinds, and a memorial Central Park beside the Wayne County Courthouse. While current zoning laws do not require building remodelling to remain historically accurate, the vast majority of houses and structures remain architecturally as they were constructed, often more than a century past.
  • Irving Cliff, 300 feet high, named for Washington Irving who loved its prominence, overlooks the town and offers a compelling view of the confluence of the Lackawaxen River and Dyberry Creek and virtually everything else in the valley. The cliff is surmounted by Gibbons Memorial Park with a 50 foot electric framework for a Christmas Star and Easter Cross that are visible for miles during holiday nights. Fireworks are fired from the cliff for Independence Day festivities.
  • The Honesdale Roots and Rhythm Music and Arts Festival is held throughout Honesdale on the third Saturday in June. The main stage is set up along Court Street playing to festival goers in Central Park. Artists and food vendors are lined along the park on 9th and 10th Streets. Several other stages are set up throughout the town offering music all day. The festival was established in 2006.
  • Many summer camps are located in and around Honesdale, including Bryn Mawr Camp, Camp Cayuga, Indian Head Camp, Camp Lavi, Camp Morasha, Camp Moshava, Camp Nesher, Camp Ramah in the Poconos, Camp Raninu, Camp Seneca Lake, Summit Camp, Camp Towanda, Trail's End Camp, Tyler Hill Camp, Camp Watonka and Camp Wayne. Many campers travel from the New York Metropolitan Area, New England, Philadelphia and further afield to attend camps in the area, as they have for many decades. The camps are the county's largest industry.

In popular culture


  • Although the movie Playing for Keeps (1986) was filmed mainly in nearby Bethany, Pennsylvania, scenes were filmed at the old Miracle Market on 6th Street in Honesdale. Additional scenes were filmed in nearby Hawley, Pennsylvania, and a field along Pennsylvania State Route 191 near Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania. The movie was released on October 3, 1986, and starred Daniel Jordano, Matthew Penn, Leon W. Grant, Mary B. Ward and Marisa Tomei.
  • The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) is an action thriller film which stars Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson. Davis plays a Honesdale schoolteacher-wife-mother who suffers from amnesia, and who eventually learns that she was a trained assassin before losing her memory. Although Honesdale is mentioned in the film, the film was not shot in Honesdale.
  • Wet Hot American Summer (2001) is a camp-set comedy directed by David Wain. The movie was shot mainly at Camp Towanda in Honesdale with some photography taking place in Honesdale's downtown.
  • Honesdale is mentioned in the opening scene of the movie The Ten (2007), starring Paul Rudd of Wet Hot American Summer.
  • Blue Valentine (2010), starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, started filming in Honesdale and the surrounding areas in spring 2009, and was released in the United States on December 26, 2010.


  • Schrute Farms, the bed and breakfast beet farm belonging to Dwight Schrute on NBC's sitcom The Office, is listed as a Honesdale establishment on


Honesdale High School is a public, four-year, regional high school serving grades 9-12 in Honesdale, as a part of the Wayne Highlands School District. The district includes four elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. Stourbridge Primary Center and Lakeside Elementary School serves children from Honesdale, and Wayne Highlands Middle School serve grades 6-8 in Honesdale. In 2006, the district was recognized for excellence in teaching, and has a long tradition of requiring standards of its graduates well beyond state regulations.

Notable people

  • Brian Balthazar, (born Brian Balthaser) television personality (born in Honesdale).
  • John J. Boyle (1919-2003), 19th Public Printer of the United States (born in Honesdale)
  • Florence Goodenough, born 1886, psychology pioneer in area of intelligence (born in Honesdale).
  • Mary Dimmick Harrison (1858-1948), second wife of President Benjamin Harrison
  • Edgar Jadwin (1865-1931), former Chief of Engineers, United States Army Corps of Engineers
  • Frederick W. Keator (1855-1924), Episcopal bishop
  • Lyman Louis Lemnitzer (1899-1988), General, U.S. Army and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • John Olver, former member of U.S. House of Representatives representing Massachusetts's 1st congressional district
  • Kenneth Kreitner (b. 1956), American musicologist
  • David M. Peterson (1894-1919), flying ace of World War I
  • Richard B. Smith (1901-1935), co-wrote the song "Winter Wonderland" in 1934; his house still stands on Church St., Honesdale
  • Lauren Spierer, missing woman, spent a summer at Camp Towanda and met friends who became part of her social circle at Indiana University
  • Richard J. Tallman (1925-1972), U.S. Army Brigadier-General, killed in action in Vietnam in 1972
  • Clarissa Tracy (1818–1905), botanist, taught here
  • Art Wall Jr. (1923-2001), professional golfer, 1959 Masters champion
  • Morris Wilkins, inventor of heart-shaped bathtub and champagne glass bathtub
  • Q. David Bowers, born 1938, author and numismatist
  • Ruth McGinnis, World Women’s Billiard Champion in the 1930s

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Honesdale para niños

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