SCRANTON — Old trains make for good business.
That’s the verdict of a new National Park Service (NPS) report, which shows that visitors to the Steamtown National Historic Site spent $4,377,400 in communities near the park last year, resulting in a cumulative benefit to the local economy of nearly $6 million.
“National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy — returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service, and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well,” park Superintendent Debbie Conway said. “We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.”
That spending by 84,257 visitors supported 72 jobs, according to NHS figures.
The analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and National Park Service economist Lynne Koontz, NHS said.
According to NHS, the report shows $15.7 billion of direct spending by 292.8 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. That spending supported 277,000 jobs nationally; 235,600 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities.
The cumulative benefit to the nation’s economy was $29.7 billion.
How was that money spent? According to the 2014 report, the top purchases were lodging (30.6 percent), followed by food and beverages (20.3 percent), gas and oil (11.9 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.9 percent).
To download the report, click here.
The numbers came as good news for Robert F. Durkin, President of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce.
“Steamtown National Historic Site – as indicated by these studies – brings a great deal of economic return to our region of northeastern Pennsylvania,” he said.
“Further, as a centerpiece of the area mix of cultural and historical amenities, Steamtown also adds considerable value in terms of quality of life to residents and visitors alike.”
Opened in 1995, Steamtown covers about 40 acres of the former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad yard in downtown Scranton. In addition to static exhibits, the museum offers rides on restored railroad equipment.
Steamtown shares the yard with working freight trains, as well as with electric trolley cars that give rides for Lackawanna County’s Electric City Trolley Museum.
In a separate development, Steamtown on Friday announced that the park has been awarded $60,000 as the federal match for a federal National Park Service Centennial Challenge project, which will be used to restore the boiler of the park’s Boston and Maine #3713 steam locomotive.
The funding requires a $60,000 matching grant from the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad Historical Society, which recently renewed a partnership agreement with the National Park Service to continue restoration and preservations work on the 1934 locomotive.