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Pennsylvania Counties

There are sixty-seven counties of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the United States of America. The city of Philadelphia is coterminous with Philadelphia County, and governmental functions have been consolidated since 1854.

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Luzerne County, Pennsylvania

Luzerne County Education, Geography, and History

Luzerne County, Pennsylvania Courthouse

Luzerne County is a county located in the state of Pennsylvania. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 320,918. Its county seat is Wilkes-Barre.

Luzerne County is included in the Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is located in the northern anthracite area called The Coal Region in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Etymology - Origin of Luzerne County Name

Named for the Chevalier de la Luzerne, French minister to the United States.


County QuickFacts: Census Bureau Quick Facts

Luzerne County History

Created on September 25, 1786 from part of Northumberland County and named for the Chevalier de la Luzerne, French minister to the United States. Wilkes-Barre, the county seat, was laid out in 1772 and named for two members of the English Parliament, John Wilkes and Isaac Barre, both advocates of American rights. It was incorporated as a borough on March 17, 1806 and as a city on May 4, 1871.

Pennsylvania settlers, Indians, and a Connecticut settlement company engaged in a three-way struggle for the Wyoming Valley. The Yankee Pennamite Wars were fought here from 1769 to 1782. In 1786 Connecticut's acceptance of the federal award to Pennsylvania allowed Pennsylvania to form the county, and a 1799 statute compromised the land titles claimed by Connecticut families. Led by the Delaware, "King" Teedyuscung, Indians committed the first Wyoming Massacre of settlers on Oct. 15, 1763; with British assistance Indians perpetrated the second Wyoming Massacre on July 3, 1778. In 1808, Judge Fell proved anthracite coal's burning potential, and in 1834 the North Branch Canal began to make coal exporting practical. Many canals and railroads followed, and Luzerne's two anthracite fields flourished. In time the city of Scranton rivaled Wilkes Barre, which led to the creation of Lackawanna County in 1887. Textiles and metal products manufacturing developed. Textile factories depended on miners' families for their laborers. Coal strikes of 1902 and 1925-1926 were so bitter that consumers sought alternate fuels, and mining declined. World War II revived anthracite prices, but the Knox Mine disaster of January 22, 1959, was the death knell of deep anthracite mining. Presently, Luzerne produces about one-fourth of the anthracite coal in the state, mostly by surface operations. Economically, the county has had heavy unemployment since World War II, although new mining machines had made mining labor-efficient long before the market diminished in the 1960s. Only about one-eighth of Luzerne is farmed; harvested crops are more valuable than animal products, especially potatoes.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 907 square miles (2,349 km2), of which, 891 square miles (2,307 km2) of it is land and 16 square miles (42 km2) of it (1.80%) is water. The Wyoming Valley in the North and Mid part of the county is flat at the Susquehanna Basin and rises from 700 feet to 2000 feet in some places. Bear Creek, on the eastern side of the valley, has a mean elevation of about 2000 feet, while Pittston, on the Susquehanna Basin, is about 700 feet.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Wyoming County (north)
  • Lackawanna County (northeast)
  • Monroe County (east)
  • Carbon County (southeast)
  • Schuylkill County (south)
  • Columbia County (west)
  • Sullivan County (northwest)


Public school districts

Berwick Area School District (also in Columbia County)
Crestwood School District
Dallas School District
Greater Nanticoke Area School District
Hanover Area School District
Hazleton Area School District (also in Carbon and Schuylkill Counties)
Lake-Lehman School District (also in Wyoming County)
Northwest Area School District
Pittston Area School District
Wilkes-Barre Area School District
Wyoming Area School District (also in Wyoming County)
Wyoming Valley West School District

Colleges and universities

Luzerne County Community College
King's College
Misericordia University
Penn State Hazleton
Penn State Wilkes-Barre
Wilkes University

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