Wayne County occupies the northern corner of Pennsylvania and is framed on the east and north by New York State. In 1798 it was one of the first counties created from the vast Northampton County and was named for the Revolutionary War hero General Anthony Wayne. Like other counties of the Northern Tier, it began as a Native American homeland, then was contested as a part of Connecticut's western claim. In the nineteenth century it experienced important stages in the American Industrial Revolution first as a source of lumber, then as a transportation hub after the discovery of coal in nearby Lackawanna (then Luzerne) County. In 1828, the Delaware and Hudson Canal connected the region's coal to the New York and northern New Jersey industrial and cultural markets, bringing their products as well as their architects into the region. This also accounts for the many New York–derived place names that distinguish the county from others to the south. In the twentieth century, as lumbering and the coal markets diminished, Wayne County was reinvented as part of the recreational world of the Poconos. Its architecture tells each of these stories.
The county is now traversed by I-84, reinforcing the historic connections to New York and New Jersey. As with nearby Pike and Monroe counties, Wayne County was among the fastest growing of Pennsylvania's counties in 2000 as many recreation houses became year-round residences. Also like other counties of the Poconos, Wayne County finds its identity in its waterways. The eastern boundary is the headwaters of the Delaware River reaching north to the point at Hancock where the river divides into its two branches and becomes a fabled eastern trout stream. On the south, it shares a border with Pike County in man-made Lake Wallenpaupack, which was created to generate electricity in 1926. The western edge is formed by Moosic Mountain that separated the county from the coal districts to the south and west. That mountain formed the greatest barrier to the Delaware and Hudson Canal and is the focus of much of its industrial narrative.
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