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Northern Coal Region

Northern Coal region is among the most Lithuanian areas of the USA. Pittston and Wilkes-Barre are the largest cities of such size to have some 4% of the population with Lithuanian ancestry.

Among the local veterans revered in the Northern Coal Region there are numerous Lithuanians

The historic number of Lithuanians in the area is still visible on the veteran memorials, where many Lithuanain surnames are visible. Surnames ending with 'as', 'is' or 'us' are nearly always Lithuanian, while 'cz', 'ch' endings may be Lithuanian surnames as well, although Polonized

Sadly, the Northern Coal Region is also among the places where Lithuanian sites have been hit the hardest in the recent times, many of them destroyed, including the prettiest and largest Lithuanian churches that were also arguably the key Lithuanian sites in the area. Out of 13 Lithuanian Roman Catholic churches in the area, none remain open as standard Catholic churches and nearly all were closed ~2009, despite the fact that mere probability would have required some half of them to stay open (as half of the parishes were closed in the area). 14 Lithuanian churches that used to operate here, by the way, meant that the area had more Lithuanian operating churches than any city in Lithuania until ~1990.

Pittston St. Casimir Lithuanian church

Pittston St. Casimir Lithuanian church, now abandoned

Despite all the destruction, there is still what to see in the Northern Coal Region, ranging from a Lithuanian church independent from Rome, to many cemeteries with century-old graves and Old Lithuanian inscription, to four surviving Lithuanian clubs, to several Lithuanian monuments, to the possibility to descend into a real mine where Lithuanians once toiled, having universally come to this region for coal mining. There is even a Lithuanian-named lake.

Driving down the mine train into the Lackawanna mine

Driving down the mine train into the Lackawanna mine

Northern Coal Region is effectively a string of cities between which there is almost no empty space left. At the north, there is Scranton, at the center - Pittston, at the south - Wilkes-Barre. Around this conurbation, there are also numerous smaller towns which are also full of historically Lithuanian sites.

Pittston Lithuanian club hydrant

A fire-hydrant colored in Lithuanian colors near the Pittston Lithuanian club

To make the matters simpler, we describe the Lithuanian sites in the area going from north to south.

Forest City Lithuanian sites

Forest City St. Anthony Lithuanian church site

Forest City never had more than 6000 inhabitants (let alone Catholics), yet it had five Catholic churches! That’s because every immigrant nation used to build its own: Lithuanians, Poles, Slovaks, Slovenes, Irish… All of them collected donations from their meager wages. However, 100 years on, this lot is all that remains of the white gothic revival Lithuanian church (after the diocese has decided to raze it).

The site of the Forest City Lithuanian church

The site of the Forest City Lithuanian church

St. Anthony Lithuanian cemetery in Forest City

In the small towns like Forest City, Lithuanians were important. That's because they moved in at about the same time as everybody else and couldn't have been looked down by the earlier arrivals: the town was founded in 1888. Lithuanians also founded their own cemetery, even though the town has merely a few thousand inhabitants and it would seem one cemetery is enough. Such were the times: even having emigrated, the people of each nation sought to be laid to rest among their co-nationals.

Forest City Lithuanian cemetery

Forest City Lithuanian cemetery

Eynon Lithuanian sites

Eynon Our Lady of Vilna church

Today this is a mere abandoned building. The only remaining sign of its Lithuanian past is an empty niche for a sculpture of the saint. It bears an English inscription that it was built in memory of the pastor Savulis (a Lithuanian surname).

Eynon Our Lady of Vilnius Lithuanian church

Eynon Our Lady of Vilnius Lithuanian church

Eynon Our Lady of Vilna cemetery

This cemetery shares a commonly fenced ground with the Our Lady of Częstochowa Polish cemetery and there are more Polish than Lithuanian graves. Lithuanians were mostly buried closer to their Our Lady of Vilna church. In the early 20th century, a Polish-Lithuanian conflict raged over the cemetery where blood was spilled.

A Lithuanian grave in Eynon

A Lithuanian grave in Eynon

Downtown Scranton Lithuanian sites

All of the following are so close to each other that it is possible to walk from one of them to another.

Scranton Providence of God Lithuanian National Catholic church

It may seem unbelievable, but some Scranton Lithuanians did in 1914 something no one did even in Lithuania itself: created a national Lithuanian Catholic church that was independent of the Pope. This unique Lithuanian church still survives. It has been built in 1915-1930 and opens on Sundays alone (at the mass time).

Lithuanian National Catholic church in Scranton

Lithuanian National Catholic church in Scranton

Cornerstone of the Scranton National Catholic church

Cornerstone of the Scranton National Catholic church

Tauras Lithuanian club in Scranton

One of four Lithuanian clubs in the Scranton region! At the entrance, a Lithuanian flag is waving. Inside, the most Lithuanian-decorated part is the hall, which has descriptions of Lithuania and images of the Lithuanians who created the club. Currently, not only Lithuanians can be members, although the potato pancakes are still on the menu. Not cepelinai though: this most famous Lithuanian national dish became so popular *later* than Lithuanians migrated to Scranton.

Tauras Lithuanian club in Scranton

Tauras Lithuanian club in Scranton

Carpet at the Tauras club entrance

Carpet at the Tauras club entrance showing Tauras. Tauras in Lithuanian means Aurochs, a now-extinct animal from the region.

A clipping at Tauras club entrance describing Lithuania

A clipping at Tauras club entrance describing Lithuania

Kosciuska Healing Garden

“Lithuanian sites are so rapidly disappearing, therefore, I wanted to create a new one” – said the creator of the Kosciuska garden Carol Gargan (of Lithuanian origins). She is planting the garden with her own hands and named it after Tadas Kosciuška – this is the Lithuanian variant of the name of Polish-Lithuanian leader more commonly known in Polish as Kosciuszko, also a US hero.

Kosciuska healing garden sign

Kosciuska healing garden sign

Scranton St. Joseph Lithuanian church

The 1895-build church is still open, however, it now belongs to ex-Anglican priests. Nevertheless, the Lithuanian stained glass windows, the chapel-post for the Soviet-persecuted Lithuanians all survive. So does the cornerstone inscription “Lithuanica Ecclesia”.

Scranton St. Joseph Lithuanian church

Scranton St. Joseph Lithuanian church

Scranton St. Joseph Lithuanian church

Scranton St. Joseph Lithuanian church stained-glass window with a donor's Lithuanian surname

St. Joseph Lithuanian school in Scranton

So many Lithuanian children must have gone to school in Scranton at 1915 when the construction here began! The school has been closed for a long time but the cornerstone still boasts a Lithuanian-language inscription that means “St. Joseph school 1915”.

St. Joseph Lithuanian school

St. Joseph Lithuanian school

Lithuanian chapel-post for Soviet-oppressed Lithuanians

This chapel-post, according to the inscription, is dedicated to the men of women who fell for “our country” (Lithuania), and also Lithuanians who suffer beyond the Iron Curtain, and the dead parish members. Such were the main concerns of the Lithuanian-Americans in 1975 when the chapel-post was erected, even though ~70 years had passed already since most of them moved to Scranton! On top of the chapel post there is an image of Rūpintojėlis, a Lithuanian-folk-traditional image of a sad Jesus.

Scranton chapel-post with Rūpintojėlis visible (left)

Scranton chapel-post with Rūpintojėlis visible (left)

Scranton Lithuanian chapel-post explanation

Scranton Lithuanian chapel-post explanation

Scranton area Lithuanian sites further away from the downtown

The following sites will most likely require a drive from the downtown Scranton.

Lithuanian National Cemetery in Scranton

This is a Catholic cemetery but not Roman Catholic. National Catholics who are not following the Pope are buried here (see the "National Catholic church" section above). The creator of this unique church bishop Jonas Gritėnas also lies in this cemetery. He sought to export his ideas back into Lithuania, however, fell ill and died, leaving the National church a Lithuanian-American phenomenon.

Lithuanian National cemetery near Scranton

Lithuanian National cemetery near Scranton

St. Joseph Lithuanian cemetery in Scranton

A massive Lithuanian cemetery! It has a pretty cemetery cross. There are very old graves.

St. Joseph Lithuanian cemetery in Scranton

St. Joseph Lithuanian cemetery in Scranton

St. Joseph Lithuanian cemetery in Scranton

St. Joseph Lithuanian cemetery in Scranton

A grave in Scranton with an old Lithuanian epitaph

A grave in Scranton with an old Lithuanian epitaph

Lackawanna Coal mine and museum in Scranton

Here you may descend into a real coal mine, once staffed by Lithuanians! Of course, everything is easier for the tourists: the floor is not covered by underground water, there is no more risk to enter flammable or poisonous gases… The death rates used to be huge here, and the dead miners used to be placed on their wives’ front porches! This and even scarier stories of 19th-century immigrant laborer lives may be listened here.

Lackawanna mine in Scranton

Lackawanna mine in Scranton

Iron furnaces (a museum in Scranton)

The Iron furnaces of 1848-1857 were among those industrial sites that drew Lithuanians to this area in the late 19th century.

Scranton St. Michael Lithuanian church

Currently, this church belongs to the traditionalist Catholics who hold there the Latin Tridentine mass. On the exterior, nothing Lithuanian remains.

St. Michael Lithuanian church in Scranton

St. Michael Lithuanian church in Scranton

Elmhurst St. Mary Villa Lithuanian sites

St. Mary villa is a complex of a Lithuanian monastery (now an assisted living institution) and a Lithuanian cemetery east of Scranton.

St. Mary villa in Elmhurst

Mining jobs most Lithuanian men had were especially dangerous. Some would be killed by explosions, others by poisonous gas… To accommodate the surviving widows and orphans, priest Urbanavičius created this home where Lithuanian nuns would care for these unlucky people. Currently, the Lithuanity remains only in the images that cover the walls, the names in donations list, the traditional sun-cross on the roof, the inscription on Mary statue. Now the home cares for senior citizens.

Traditional Lithuanian Sun-Cross on top of the St. Mary Villa

Traditional Lithuanian Sun-Cross on top of the St. Mary Villa. This version of cross, especially popular among the Lithuanian-Americans, combines the Christian (cross) and pre-Christian nature-worshipping (sun) symbolism

Image of the early nuns at what is now St. Mary villa

Image of the early nuns at what is now St. Mary villa, located in the St. Mary villa

Mary sculpture with Lithuanian inscription

Among the last things on the exterior of St. Mary villa that reminds Lithuania is this statue. To see its Lithuanian inscription, come closer (in summers, it is often covered by flowers and therefore only the English inscription is visible from further up).

Virgin Mary sculpture in front of the St. Mary villa

Virgin Mary sculpture in front of the St. Mary villa

Elmhurst Lithuanian cemetery

As this cemetery has been established for the nuns near a monastery (now the St. Mary Villa), most of the graves here are modest, consisting of small plaques now overgrown in grass. Exceptional are the priest graves and a line of the graves of patriotically-minded Lithuanians, adorned by the Columns of Gediminas and other Lithuanian symbols.

St. Mary Villa cemetery

St. Mary Villa cemetery

Pittston area Lithuanian sites

These Lithuanian sites are located in Pittston, which is the most-Lithuanian (by percentage) city of such size in the USA, and the surrounding towns. Pittston is effectively in the center of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre conurbation.

Pittston St. Casimir Lithuanian church

Just one look at this church is needed to be overwhelmed by its size and grandeur! For 99 years (1909-2008) this was the hub of Pittston Lithuanians, yet nothing reminds that: even the cornerstone was removed. The new owner planned to showcase art here but, after the former church being vandalised, she sold it again, continuing its abandonment.

St. Casimir Lithuanian church of Pittston

St. Casimir Lithuanian church of Pittston

The removed cornerstone of Pittston St. Casimir Lithuanian church

The removed cornerstone of Pittston St. Casimir Lithuanian church

Lithuanian Social and Benefit Club in Pittston

Approaching this club, your eye will be drawn to a hydrant painted in the colors of Lithuanian flag and coat of arms! This club is probably the most Lithuanian among those left in the region. It celebrates February 16th, even though it also celebrates St. Patrick's day. It has a bar (members-and-friends only).

Pittston Lithuanian club

Pittston Lithuanian club

Pittston Lithuanian club interior

Pittston Lithuanian club interior

St. Casimir statue in Pittston

This statue is all that remains in religious use out of the massive St. Casimir Lithuanian church after its closure. When closing churches, the bishops often try to pacify the disgruntled parishioners by offering them to keep some dearest parts of the former church (and move those parts into a new church). As this Irish church had many other parishes consolidated it, its entry hall now reminds a sculpture gallery with St. Casimir not easily distinguishable.

St. Casimir statue in Pittston

St. Casimir statue in Pittston, relocated from the Pittston Lithuanian church

St. Casimir Lithuanian Cemetery in Pittston

One of the largest of the northern Coal region Lithuanian cemeteries belonged to the massive St. Casimir church of Pittston. A pretty gate with St. Casimir’s name survives.

Pittston St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery entrance

Pittston St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery entrance

St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery in Pittston gravestone

St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery in Pittston gravestone

Duryea St. Joseph Lithuanian church site

Yet another Lithuanian church in the Pennsylvania Coal Region that was recently torn down by the diocese’s bulldozers, disregarding the opinion of the parish members. This one was demolished in 2013.

Now-demolished Lithuanian church of Duryea

Now-demolished Lithuanian church of Duryea. Google Street View image

Exeter Lithuanian club

One of four Lithuanian clubs in the Northern Coal region! The exterior is painted in Lithuanian tricolor. Only the members and those with members may enter inside.

Exeter Lithuanian club

Exeter Lithuanian club

Inkerman Lithuanian citizens club

This Lithuanian club used to be nicknamed the “Bucket of blood” – so common were the fights here. It was built by interwar Lithuanian miners by their own hands, although today not only Lithuanians frequent it. Lithuania-related inscriptions still remain.

Inkerman Lithuanian club

Inkerman Lithuanian club

Inside the Inkerman Lithuanian club

Inside the Inkerman Lithuanian club

Kingston area Lithuanian sites

These Lithuanian sites are located on the opposite bank of the Susquehanna River from Wilkes-Barre.

Kingston St. Mary Annunciation Lithuanian church site

After closing this grand Lithuanian church, the diocese was unable to sell it. Therefore, they have demolished it in 2016. When looking at the empty lot where a magnificent church once stood, take a time to think how quickly the Lithuanian-American heritage disappears.

Now-demolished Kingston Lithuanian church of St. Mary Annunciation

Now-demolished Kingston Lithuanian church of St. Mary Annunciation. Google Street View image

The site of the destroyed Lithuanian church

The site of the destroyed Lithuanian church

St. Mary Annunciation Lithuanian cemetery in Kingston

The dead of the Annunciation parish used to be laid here. The name “Lithuanian” still remains at the entrance and there are many Lithuanian graves. The parish church was destroyed in 2016, so this is all that remains of that parish.

St. Mary Lithuanian Cemetery

St. Mary Lithuanian Cemetery

Luzerne St. Ann Lithuanian church

The church construction began in 1924 but it was then halted by the Great Depression. For long, Lithuanians prated in the basement and only in 1959 did they complete the church. Maybe this newness made the diocese to chose this building as the one that should remain after the consolidation of the area's parishes. Nothing Lithuanian remains in the exterior, however.

St. Anne Lithuanian church in Luzerne

St. Anne Lithuanian church in Luzerne

Lithuanian independent cemetery

Cemeteries, cemeteries, cemeteries! So many of them have Lithuanians established in the region. Most were parish-affiliated whereas the “Independent” ones were typically created by the less religious: leftists and nationalists.

Independent Lithuanian cemetery of the West Wyoming

Independent Lithuanian cemetery of the West Wyoming

Old St. Mary cemetery in Larksville

The site of the most infamous Lithuanian-Polish conflict in America! The parish used to be binational, yet the Poles sought it to be Polish-only. So, they used to stop Lithuanian funerals coming to the cemetery and, in the most notorious episode, dug out the graves of Lithuanian children and mutilated the corpses with axes. Lithuanians then established the Old St. Casimir cemetery nearby.

St Mary Polish cemetery in Larksville

St Mary Polish cemetery in Larksville

Old St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery in Larksville

This is the cemetery Lithuanians established after the conflict in St. Mary's (see above). As was common then, mining companies sold a bad land to this cemetery, so the dumps are nearby. Later the parish acquired a new cemetery in Hunlock.

Larksville St. Casimir cemetery

Larksville St. Casimir cemetery

Wilkes-Barre area Lithuanian sites

These sites are located in Wilkes-Barre, the area's second-mos-Lithuanian significant town, and its suburbs.

Wilkes-Barre Holy Trinity Lithuanian church site

The great gothic revival Holy Trinity church, built by Lithuanian hard-earned money, was destroyed not in some kind of historic calamity but rather by the diocese decision (disregarding the Lithuanian protests) very recently: on 2015. Unfortunately, such was the fate of many Lithuanian-American churches. In an empty lot now a small lonely cross stands, likely erected by Lithuanians.

Now-demolished Holy Trinity Lithuanian church of Wilkes-Barre

Now-demolished Holy Trinity Lithuanian church of Wilkes-Barre. Google Street View image.

The now-empty site of the Holy Trinity Lithuanian church of Wilkes-Barre

The now-empty site of the Holy Trinity Lithuanian church of Wilkes-Barre

A cross that stands on the location of the Holy Trinity Lithuanian church

A cross that stands on the location of the Holy Trinity Lithuanian church

Holy Trinity Lithuanian cemetery in Wilkes-Barre

This is a grand and pretty cemetery with memorials that have Lithuanian inscriptions: a memorial for the Lithuanians who died in the World Wars, a cemetery cross with a prayer. Starting in 1935 the cemetery accepted the parishioners of the Holy Trinity church, that massive one which was destroyed in 2015.

Wilkes-Barre Holy Trinity Lithuanian Cemetery entrance

Wilkes-Barre Holy Trinity Lithuanian Cemetery entrance

Holy Trinity cemetery cross in Wilkes Barre

The cross on the mound has a Lithuanian inscription: “Jei draug su Kristumi mirėme, draug su Kristumi ir gyvensime” (“If we’ve died with Christ, we’ll live with Christ”).

Wilkes-Barre Lithuanian cemetery cross

Wilkes-Barre Lithuanian cemetery cross

Memorial for the Lithuanians who died in the World Wars

You’d rarely see non-English inscriptions on the WW2 memorials for those who died serving the US army. The one in the Holy Trinity cemetery is an exception. In Lithuanian, it asks for an eternal peace to those Lithuanians soldiers. Interestingly, some of these soldiers have emigrated from a Russian-occupied Lithuania to avoid service in the foreign Russian army only to eventually died in a war for the USA.

Wilkes-Barre Lithuanian cemetery World War 2 memorial

Wilkes-Barre Lithuanian cemetery World War 2 memorial

Wilkes-Barre St. Francis Lithuanian church

Nothing here reminds the Lithuanians who built the church ~1918 and operated it for 90 years. Even the cornerstone with the construction year and original purpose inscribed has been removed! Currently, it is a Hispanic Seventh-Day Adventist parish.

Miners Mills Lithuanian chruch

Miners Mills Lithuanian chruch

St. Francis Lithuanian cemetery in Wilkes-Barre

A small cemetery on the hillside that belonged to the St. Casimir Lithuanian parish.

St. Francis cemetery in Wilkes-Barre

St. Francis cemetery in Wilkes-Barre

Wilkes-Barre Township St. Joseph Lithuanian church

In 2011, this Lithuanian church became… a brewery and bar! This is quite rare, as the Roman Catholic church usually does not sell its buildings for “immoral purposes” and thus the churches become other churches, warehouses or apartments. Interestingly, the brewery does mention on its website that it is located in a former school rather than a former church.

Wilkes-Barre Township Lithuanian church from the outside

Wilkes-Barre Township Lithuanian church from the outside

Wilkes-Barre Township Lithuanian church (now a brewery)

Wilkes-Barre Township Lithuanian church (now a brewery)

Wilkes-Barre St. Casimir Lithuanian church

The Old St. Casimir church effectively caved into the mines. Such “exotic” fate was common in the Coal Region, where mining activities went on under nearly every home. Back then, in the 1950s, the culture of legal compensations was not as prominent and Lithuanians had to build this new church on their own in 1957. It still stands, yet it has nothing Lithuanian now.

Wilkes-Barre St. Casimir Lithuanian church

Wilkes-Barre St. Casimir Lithuanian church

Lithuanian sites in the Northern Coal Region's west

These Lithuanian sites are located out of the main conurbation, in the small mining towns west of Wilkes-Barre.

Sugar Notch St. Peter and Paul Lithuanian church

In 1913, the building was acquired from Presbyterians. Those were the times before the advent of automobiles, so, once they would amass some money, Lithuanians sought to build their own church so they wouldn’t to have to spend much of the Sundays (the sole non-working day) commuting to the Plymouth Lithuanian church (St. Francis), or go to the Polish church which reminded them of a high treason. This parish never had more than ~300 Lithuanians.

Sugar Notch Lithuanian church

Sugar Notch Lithuanian church

Ss. Peter and Paul Lithuanian Cemetery in Sugar Notch

A small Lithuanian cemetery of a small coal town. On the gravestones, you may see anglicized pre-war Lithuanian words such as “Nuzudytas mainose” (“Killed in the mines”; non-Anglicized Lithuanian would be “Žuvo kasyklose”).

Sugar Notch Lithuanian cemetery

Sugar Notch Lithuanian cemetery

Wanamie St. Mary Lithuanian church

Just as in many small towns of Coal region, the closed Lithuanian church is no longer in use and stands abandoned. Finding it was difficult, as internet lacked information; from now on, it will be marked on our map of Lithuanian-American heritage. Construction started on 1925.

Wanamie Lithuanian church

Wanamie Lithuanian church

St. Mary Lithuanian cemetery in Wanamie

A small cemetery of a small parish. Judging by the surnames on gravestones, non-Lithuanians also used to be buried here.

Wanamie Lithuanian cemetery

Wanamie Lithuanian cemetery

New St. Casimir Lithuanian Cemetery in Hunlock

The new cemetery of the St. Francis Lithuanian parish has been established quite far from the church, as the automobile era was approaching. The old cemetery is in Larksville (see above).

Lithuanian sites further away

Lake Kasulaitis

This small lake is likely the only one Lithuanian-named lake in the USA, and possibly the Lithuanian-named lake that is the furthest from Lithuania! Joseph (Juozapas) Kasulaitis, by the way, was not some kind of a celebrity – rather, he was a farmer who spent decades farming in the region. The lake was formed/expanded with a construction of a dam. Sadly, the dam has been lost to the floos of 2005, diminishing the lake to a rather small widening of the river.

Lake Kasulaitis in the Northern Coal Region

Lake Kasulaitis in the Northern Coal Region

Lake Kasulaitis in its prime size, 1969. Photo courtesy of Mark Kasulaitis, the granson of the dam's builder

Lake Kasulaitis in its prime size, 1969. Photo courtesy of Mark Kasulaitis, the granson of the dam's builder

 


The map

All the Lithuanian locations, described in this article, are marked on this interactive map, made by the "Destination - America" expedition (click the link):

Interactive map of Pennsylvania northern Coal Region Lithuanian sites

 


Destination America expedition diary

2017 09 26 After a short stop at Bingh , we entered the Pennsylvania's coal region, the historic heart of Lithuanian America. In its urbanized north, in the cities such as Pittston and Wilkes-Barre, some 4% of people declare themselves tohave a Lithuanian ancestry.

It may seem a great place to test the idea of "Global Lithuania" which is promoted by the Lithuanian government. Tens or hundreds of thousands Lithuanians have immigrated there, as evident in numerous massive cemeteries still boasting old forms of Lithuanian names and old-Lithuanian-language epitaphies. Had they created a community - and heritage - that would last, a Lithuania-oiutside-Lithuania?

Indeed, they have created many impressive Lithuanian sites which, all together, once formed a real underground Lithuanian +diaspora country!..

Unfortunately, that supposed "Global Lithuania" is rapidly turning into dust.
Three large churches alone have been destroyed in the past few years, taking decades of Lithuanian history with them. It took longer than in most other places to find Lithuanians knowledgeable about the Lithuanian sites and even they agreed that there are few true Lithuanians left around and that Lithuanity has been rapidly disappearing or being destroyed, forgotten by all the young and middle-aged generations, despite being successfully safeguarded for a century beforehand.

"There were more people who would have liked to meet you" - we heard. But those were extremely old and had bad health. And tens of thousand more who would have liked to show the sites they helped to build and cherish are lying in the graveyards, with only very few of their descendants keeping interest in their Lithuanian heritage.

On a more positive side, we have found 4 Lithuanian clubs in the area, albeit not as Lithuanian now as they used to be. Currently, they serve as curious members-only bars where one needs a keycard to enter (most members are non-Lithuanians). When contacted through Facebook about the possibility of a visit, neither of them replied to us, but we have found "backdoors" by approaching members.

We have also visited Lackawana mine. It as the mining industry that attracted Lithuanians to the area, but visiting that dirty and dangerous underground location where many died (even children) begs a question - "Was it really so bad in Lithuania t go here instead?". Given that these were the times when even the Lithuanian language was banned and industry was chased out of agricultural Lithuania by the occupying Russian Empire, it likely was.

One of our local guides was Carol Gargan, who seeks to create a new Lithuanian place - a small Lithuanian garden. Even he was not positive about the future of Lithuanian culture in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area.

There may still be possibilities to revive interest in the Lithuanian heritage in Scranton area. But that would require a concentrated action, and postponing that into the future may be too late. Otherwise, should a project like "Destination America" be repeated in 10 years, it may discover paring lots even in the places that are still pretty today.

2017 09 27 „Destination America“ entered its saddest day so far, witnessing the massive destruction of Lithuanian heritage in Wilkes-Barre and Shenandoah areas that happened not in some distant past.

Massive Lithuanian churches – some of the grandest Lithuanian churches ever built, some of the grandest buildings in their towns and cities – have been demolished in the past few years. They could be even seen on Google Street View, which we have used as a source to compare the lost Lithuanian heritage to the empty lots that have „replaced“ it.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg, as we have discovered another Lithuanian church turned into a brewery, many more abandoned.

Augustinas Žemaitis, 2017 09 26-27.

More info on the Destination America expedition

Carol Gargan, Dennis Palladino and others, who introduced the Lithuanian heritage of the Northern Coal region to the 'Destination - America' team

Carol Gargan, Dennis Palladino and others, who introduced the Lithuanian heritage of the Northern Coal region to the 'Destination - America' team

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Comments (5) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Beautiful illustrations

  2. Aciu!!! Malonu jausti zemiecius…

  3. About the Kasulaitis lake picture, that is from after the damn was destroyed in a flood. It is more of a river now. My family probably has pictures of the original lake if you are interested in correcting your information.


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