The adventure below is the latest in a series sharing my quest to explore Pennsylvania by visiting each of the sixty-seven county seats and eating a hot dog while in town.
The 4th of July dawned dark and rainy with no change forecast for the day. So, our little community celebration was postponed to the next day. July 5th turned out to be a beautiful sunny day perfect for an Independence Day celebration in the Pocono Mountains.
My Jane and I rode down to the center of activities next to the swimming pool. We arrived in time to check out the golf carts and bicycles decorated for the parade through our lake community. Carole stopped a few minutes to exchange greetings while she was examining the artistic efforts parked around us. Carole is also one of the quitters who meet regularly to quilt with friends.
During the parade some folks even tossed candy at those of us watching! My favorite parade entry was one I didn’t get a good photo of. I didn’t realize what was happening with this particular entrant until they were passed our viewing location. I tried to catch up to the ‘cart’ but was too slow in my flip-flops to get close enough for a photo. This golf cart was a “Fred Flintstone” throw-back cart. Four teenage guys were running while surrounded by a box they had built to resemble a golf cart. This was fun enough. However, as they past we noticed the name painted on the back of the cardboard golf cart. The teenagers had named themselves “The Hot Dogz”. I loved it!
Jim Thorpe (formerly Mauch Chunk) is one of those communities that was booming during the coal mining years. The towns original name was Mauch Chunk which translates to “Sleeping Bear” or “Bear Place” from the Munsee-Lenape Delaware Natives of the area. The coal mined around Summit Hill was shipped down the mountain to Mauch Chunk on a switch back railroad to be loaded on canal barges (you may walk much of the original rail bed if you are in good shape). Jim Thorpe is built on steep hills which is cool to see from the top of the mountain or standing at the courthouse looking up but strenuous to navigate. The railroads replaced the canal barges with three rail lines flowing through Mauch Chunk in the peak years. The Lehigh Valley, New Jersey Central and Lehigh New England all passed through the little town nestled in beautiful mountains. The area was known as The Switzerland of America in those days. The New Jersey Central Station is now a bank and visitor information center. The Leigh Gorge Scenic Railway loads passengers at the station for a trip through Lehigh Gorge State Park.
Remember the Molly Maguire’s we discussed in Schuylkill County? Well, Jim Thorpe (formerly Mauch Chunk) was a center of the Molly Maguire activities. It is in one of the cells in the basement of this prison where a hand print of an innocent man (Alexander Campbell) still may be seen on the wall. (Hmm!) The movie The Molly Maguires (1970) starring Sean Connery and Richard Harris was filmed in Jim Thorpe (and Eckley which is now a museum) and was one event that helped turned the town into a favorite tourist attraction. Jim Thorpe celebrates its Irish heritage every Saint Patrick’s Day with a parade and other fun!
Asa Packer (that’s his mansion behind me) was the driving force for economic growth in Jim Thorpe (formerly Mauch Chunk) and was Lehigh Coal and Transportation Company (the building is now apartments). He is also the founder of Lehigh University which he wanted to plant in near-by Lehighton probably because there was some flat space to build on. The town fathers of Lehighton didn’t want the school so Packer built it in Bethlehem, PA.
The name of the town was changed when the community purchased the remains of the famous athlete Jim Thorpe from his wife days after he died. The body was transported from Oklahoma and placed in a memorial park in East Jim Thorpe.
Jim Thorpe is where My Jane and I live folks. When we first were dating we talked about our dreams for our life adventure together. My sweetheart saw us living in a cabin in the woods one day. Well, that is what happened. We love our place in the woods. Now, if we could just teach the deer to stop eating our flowers…!
See you next time.