Traveling from Tennessee in 1875 to seek better lives for their families, David C. Lane and brothers Joseph and Aaron Brown settled in the western part of Eastland County and established the community of Scranton – named after a surveyor employed by the Houston & Texas Central Railroad. By 1880 the community had enough school-age children to build its own school. That same year a cotton gin was constructed to help the local farmers prepare their crops for market. Elisha E. Chunn, recently arrived from Alabama, opened Scranton’s first general store in 1891 – the same year that the town received a post office.
Scranton was prosperous enough after the turn of the 19th Century that the area’s farmers raised money through subscriptions to build a college preparatory school. In 1903 Alabama educator, Orrin C. Britton helped open the Scranton Academy for high school students on a 12-acre site. The academy included a two-story main building, separate boys and girls dormitories, a dining hall and athletic fields. At its peak, the Scranton Academy had a student body of more than 350, with some students traveling from as far away as Fort Worth. World War I devastated the school when its oldest male students enlisted in the military. As a result, the school closed in 1917.
Meanwhile, as the town became a regional trade center during the 1910s, a dry goods store, hardware store, and two grocery stores opened in Scranton. The Scranton Reporter started publication in 1911. A boll weevil infestation in 1917 crippled the cotton industry, forcing most farmers to switch to peanuts as a cash crop. Despite discovery of the Ranger oil field in 1917, the cumulative effects of the Great Depression sent most Scranton residents to the cities for jobs. The population decline continued after World War II, effectively sealing Scranton’s fate.
Scranton School Gymnasium – This concrete-framed stone structure was built during the Depression with funding from the WPA. Owned by the Scranton School District, it was the center of activity for the community. The building was destroyed by fire in the 1960s.