Luzerne County (pop. 320,918) is in northeastern Pennsylvania. The only Luzerne County in the U.S., it was named for the Chevalier de la Luzerne, an 18th-century French soldier and diplomat.
The county, in an historically important anthracite coal-minng region, reached its peak population of 445,109 in 1930.
Luzerne County has four state parks: Frances Slocum, Lehigh Gorge, Nescopeck, and Ricketts Glen.
The county seat of Luzerne County is the city of Wilkes-Barre (pop 41,498). The city reached its peak population of 86,626 in 1930.
Wilkes-Barre, on the flood-prone Susquehanna River in the Wyoming Valley, was named for John Wilkes and Isaac Barre, members of the British Parliament who supported colonial America.
Wilkes-Barre is the home of King’s College, a Roman Catholic liberal arts school founded in 1946, and Wilkes University, a private university founded in 1933 as a satellite campus of Bucknell University.
Florence Foster Jenkins (1868-1944), socialite and amateur soprano, was born in Wilkes-Barre. She was portrayed by Meryl Streep in the 2016 film “Florence Foster Jenkins.”
The Planters peanut company was founded in Wilkes-Barre in the early 1900s by Italian immigrant Omedeo Obici.
Actor Jack Palance (1919-2006) was born in the Luzerne County community of Hazleton (pop. 25,340). The son of a Ukrainian immigrant coal miner, his born name was Volodmyr Palahniuk.
The city of Nanticoke (pop. 10,465) is where Kress “five and dime” stores began, in 1887. Nanticoke was also the hometown of one-armed Major League baseball player Pete Gray (1915-2002).
Russell Johnson (1924-2014), who played The Professor on “Gilligan’s Island” (1964-67), was born in the borough of Ashley (pop. 2,790).
The city of Pittstown (pop. 7,739) is known as “The Quality Tomato Capital of the World.”