The Lackawanna Valley in northeastern Pennsylvania was home to the Lenni-Lenape peoples for centuries before the arrival of Europeans.
The word Lackawanna comes from a Lenape term meaning “stream that forks,” which describes the Lackawanna River. The dark, jagged tree stumps in this image by George Inness reveal that the area, once densely wooded, was cleared to make way for industry. He painted this for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company to advertise a rail network that would link Pennsylvania coal mines with new markets.
Inness shows the train moving across a new bridge and track through a landscape altered by development. In contrast, works by Hudson River School artists celebrate seemingly unspoiled American wilderness.