The City of Wilkes-Barre, like many mining settlements, fell into a deep depression when the nearby anthracite coal breakers closed. However, the last existing train station hung on as a cocktail bar until it too was abandoned.
Wilkes-Barre was once a thriving coal mining town turned city in the Wyoming Valley of North Eastern Pennsylvania. Once the mines started to all close or fold in the 1970s due to low demand, the city was been left to gather dust. The Central Railroad of New Jersey’s (CNJ) passenger train station, which stands in the shadow of the once mighty and still ornate defunct Stegmier Brewery is still a very recognizable landmark along Wilkes-Barre Blvd.. Left unused for some time plans for its reuse and restoration have been made and broken time after time. Once dwarfed by the noisy breakers, buildings, and railroad infrastructure of both the Central Railroad of New Jersey and the Lehigh Valley Railroad’s servicing facilities it is now left to be only one of the few reminders in the downtown of what had been the bustling Railroad and Anthracite coal industry.
Once on the list of historic landmarks, the station was built in 1868, passenger service halted in 1961, and was shuttered in 1972 by the CNJ after the last of the operating breakers, the Huber breaker in Ashley, Pennsylvania closed leaving the railroad yard it was attached to mostly empty and ready for closure.
It lived for a time as a cocktail bar called “The Station” and a club joint called “Banana Joe’s”. Two old Pullman cars were converted into hotel rooms, bars, and even a dance floor, but now even the station and bar lie in ruins and are left to vandals and the elements. The elaborate Rococco flourishes and grand staircases still remain, however.
In 2016, a developer bought the property with the hope of restoring the station to its former glory. In 2022, the building was remodeled into office space and reopened as the Luzerne County Visitor Bureau.