In Depth : Market Street Square

 

Recollections of The Station/Market Street Square in Wilkes-Barre and Rocky Glen Park: (To the best of my knowledge) The recent removal of some of the remaining cars has jogged my memory.

Exterior of CNJ Wilkes-Barre Station

 

I guess in the late 1970's all sorts of railroad equipment was moved to the site. Mostly old Reading MU cars and Fruit Grower Express cars. They started moving the cars into a line and around the building circa 1978.
Maybe around 1980 it opened up as the Station, a bar and eatery and the Choo-Choo Inn. The rooms were in the old Reading MU cars that were refurbished.

Views of Cars in Early 1990's

 

About 1984, It was quite the Ritzy place and attended some sort of Political function with my father there. I was in high school then. You could eat in a dining car in a gourmet restaurant, Medina's I think it was called. Really expensive. And good.

 

 

The owner, Philip Roth also owned Roth Vending, Rocky Glen Park and Top Dog, Top Dog was a chain were you can get a hamburg or hotdog for .39 and a cheesburg for .49, fries were .39 too. When you orders you got a token to play a video game. The other part of the store was an arcade. The stands at Rocky Glen park had similar fare.

 

The Vulcan arrived on property in its red, blue and yellow scheme. There were rumors that they wanted to have train rides from WIlkes-Barre to Rocky Glen. The rumor was that locomotive was in running condition.Well that never happened. At about the same time the Pocono Northeast RR took control of the Wilkes-Barre Cluster and other ex-Conrail lines.

Vulcan Locomotive Rusting Away

 

Rocky Glen park had one last surge of popularity. They used to have specials on friday nights and we used to go there. Then came the concerts. I saw Steppenwolf and the Guess Who, and Starship there. Other bands like Ted Nugent, Blue Oyster Cult, Bobby and the Midnites (a Dead spin off), Bon Jovi all played there.

 

Then Mr. Roth died. The park was auctioned off and closed. The Station saw the Choo Choo in scaled back and somehow in ended up in the hands of local entertainment magnate Thom Greco. It got renamed Market Street Square and for a time it was a happening place. I saw some 80's hair bands like Brittany Fox, and Paul Stanley of Kiss and some local bands there. The place was always packed.

 

The Diamond City Diner operated there for a few years, but that closed and the building was hauled away on a flatbed. I think Mr. Greco just leased the land to an operator and had nothing to do with it.

 

Then the crowd started changing, it was not the college crowd, but thugs from out of town. Then there was the shootings, stabbings, robberies, fights, breaking into cars and what not. The place got a rep, a bad rep. It was not cool anymore.

 

Mr. Greco tried to save it and it reopened for a short time as a Bannana Joe's. No one really went to it. For whatever reasons it failed. By this time, the unused MU cars were occupied by the homeless and they were set on fire at least twice a week. Most were removed before the club was shut down. A small strip mall took the place of some of them. Mr. Greco always complained that there was not enough police protection downtown.

Cabooses Scrapped

 

Once I was taking pictures of the Vulcan and watched this scene unfold : a bum was rummaging thru some aluminum and other metal. A police cruiser came by, the bum ran into the rail cars and hid, the car circled around in time to catch him coming out the side and the cop sent him on his way.

 


Reading MU Cars and FGE Refers Scrapped

 

By the time operations had ceased from Bannana Joe's the property was in rough shape. I had not been in it in many, many years but the exterior was not very nice.

Now Luzerne County owns it and it may be used as a visitors center or a train station if they ever get the Scranton / NYC service going.

 

 

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