The Land That Fracking Forgot

In Wayne County, Pa., dreams of gas wealth didn’t work out as planned
Honesdale, founded in 1826, was named after former New York Mayor Philip Hone, head of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Co. Photograph by Adam Golfer for Bloomberg Businessweek

Four years ago, as the economy was entering a devastating recession, swaths of rural Pennsylvania were booming. Energy companies were using hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, to tap the vast natural gas reserves of the Marcellus Shale underlying much of the Keystone State. In Wayne County, these corporations offered struggling farmers lucrative leases for mineral rights. “Land here became a whole different asset class,” says Tim Meagher, a real estate broker whose family settled in the area in the 1840s.

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