Shutdown Would Impact Steamtown Visitors, Employees

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SCRANTON -- A national park in Lackawanna County is bracing for a possible government shutdown within the next couple of hours.

Park rangers at Steamtown National Historic Site are preparing for possible furloughs in the event Congress does not reach a deal by midnight.

Steamtown National Historic Site Superintendent Kip Hagen said that 65 employees would be furloughed.

"We just feel bad for the public we serve and of course for our staff. It's a big disruption, but it's all part of business," Hagen said.

Hagen told Newswatch 16 that Steamtown averted a shutdown in 2011.

Hagen said the park was preparing for furloughs, but Congress reached a deal in the 11th hour.

"It’s just a terrible tragedy that they’re even considering it," Bob Rock of Chattanooga said.

Rock visited Steamtown on Monday. He said it is one of his favorite parks to visit now that he is retired.

Rock said it's upsetting that Congress can't reach a deal.

"It seems ironic that they would allow it to happen. That they would consider the possibility of closing our government down, closing our national parks which is such a vital vein into our social life," Rock said.

Officials at Steamtown said that not only will a shutdown impact its employees, but it will also have a major impact on its visitors.

Hagen said the fall season is usually the busiest time of year.

"As soon as October 1 hits we start to get a lot of phone calls about our trains into the Poconos on the weekends which would begin this Saturday," he said.

If a government shutdown does happen the park will have four hours to close the park on Tuesday.

Hagen said that they will continue to update the public once they receive more information.

"We’ll do the best we can to notify the public with what we’re going to be doing as soon as we hear," Hagen said.

If you plan on visiting Steamtown, visit the park's website for more information.