Uncovering the Legend of the Black Diamond

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First Posted: 9/16/2013

The time for hauntings is upon us.

September comes to a close in less than two weeks, and with it comes a rash of haunted attractions all over Northeast Pennsylvania, from houses to cornfields and hayrides – but have you ever entered a historic trolley to get your seasonal scares in?

For the third year, the Lackawanna Historical Society will play host to the Trolley of Terror, a vicious voyage on a rail line in downtown Scranton.

The trolley travels through the historic Laurel Line, a Pennsylvania third rail electric interurban streetcar line that operated commuter train service from 1903 to 1952 and freight service until 1976. It’s also known as the Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Railroad.

The line is commonly referred to as the Laurel Line due to the predominance of the aforementioned wildflower throughout its route. That, however, is where the sweetness of the line stops – at least in terms of the Trolley of Terror.

“On the ride, there are some actors who are called out as characters of a plot line that deals with the Legend of the Black Diamond, in order to reflect our area’s history,” said Mary Ann Moran-Savakinus, executive director of the historical society. “Supposedly, there was some gem discovered by a miner that brought him disaster in his life, and that pushes the plot line as the trolley goes along.”

Moran-Savakinus said they don’t encourage children under 12 to board the trolley, as there are traditional scares and dark spots in the ride.

“You’ll definitely be frightened, but we’re not looking to traumatize anyone,” she said with a laugh.

The Laurel Line has an already-existing area that makes the trolley ride perfect.

“There is a tunnel, and it’s so dark,” Moran-Savakinus said. “You could be in there at noon and it’s still pitch black. It’s a mile-long tunnel.”

In previous years, a walking tour was offered prior to boarding the Trolley of Terror, but this year that turned into a wagon ride that seats 15 people, the tickets for which have sold out for this weekend. The wagon ride concludes where the trolley boards, serving as a precursor to the scares.

“The wagon makes it a little more historical in nature,” said Moran-Savakinus. “We talk about the history of the city, whereas the trolley is more of a haunted hayride attraction.”

The entire production would not be possible without the volunteers, who Moran-Savakinus said “go above and beyond.”

“Most of them made their own costumes and do their own makeup,” she continued.

The society has also received help from Brookvalley Farm in Carbondale, who has provided horses for the wagon rides, and members of two other local haunted attractions who have lent their services: Reaper’s Revenge and Circle of Screams.