Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Tuesday Treasures Around the World

August 2009 - Jim Thorpe PA

This visit was before I started blogging.

What made me look at these photos? A question on Jeopardy and I knew the answer!!
Pennsylvania problems: The players missed three clues about the commonwealth, including ones about its nickname, the Keystone State, and the town named after a 1912 Olympian, Jim Thorpe.

The town changed its name in 1954 from Mauch Chunk to Jim Thorpe, a story that has to rank as one of the most unusual in American history. (Mauch Chunk means Bear Place in the native Munsee-Lenape Native American language).

Reading (like the railroad in Monopoly) Blue Mountain and Northern.

The Reading Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad is a regional railroad operating in eastern Pennsylvania, with headquarters located in Port Clinton. In addition to freight service, passenger excursions also run along the RBMN system. The Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway (LGSR) is a tourist railroad that operates passenger excursions along the RBMN between Jim Thorpe and Lehigh Gorge State Park. The RBMN also operates passenger excursions from Reading and Port Clinton to Jim Thorpe.

It was designed by Wilson Brothers & Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and built in 1888 by the Central Railroad of New Jersey. It is a 1 1/2-story, five bay, red brick building in the Queen Anne style. It features a 3 1/2-story, cylindrical corner tower with a cylindrical roof. It is owned by the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway and served as a visitor center.

The station was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 1, 1976.

First fire company in Carbon County PA.
Volunteer department, established 1866.
Present building built 1885.
Now a bar, the Marion Hose Co. No. 1., located next to the Opera House.

The Mauch Chunk Opera House also called the Capitol Theater at one time. The theatre was built in 1881 by architect Addison Hutton. Officially opening in 1882 and located in what was known as millionaires row in old Mauch Chunk, as the town was then called.

Asa Packer Mansion
Built in 1861, this Italianate mansion was the crown jewel of the Packer family and home to Asa Packer. This 20-room mansion has an ornate interior with original furnishings. It stands elevated above Broadway and is a reminder of the wealth that the city had during the 19th century. During that time it is said 19 of the country's 26 millionaires had homes in Mauch Chunk.

Asa Packer founded the Lehigh Valley Railroad, and like many wealthy robber-barons of this age, went on to become a philanthropist. He also founded Lehigh University in 1865.

Jim Thorpe is also known as the Switzerland of Pennsylvania. 
Established in 1830 the Hotel Switzerland is the oldest commercial building operating in Jim Thorpe.

The Old Mauch Chunk Historic District (National Register of Historic Places) contains an incredible blend of public and private buildings of exceptional architectural merit, scattered among a background of typical 19th Century commercial and residential structures; all located in spectacular natural setting.

"Stone Row" — This range of 16 houses was built by Asa Packer for the engineers and foreman working on the Lehigh Valley Railroad. The exact date is not known but the predate was the 1849 fire.

And the town's relationship to Jim Thorpe?
Who was he?

An Olympic hero controversially stripped of his medals is buried in a town he never visited, that took his name after his death.

Our old car!

NO OTHER ATHLETE HAS COME close to Jim Thorpe in all-around versatility. Born in 1887 in Prague, Oklahoma, Thorpe grew up in the Sac and Fox Nation and suffered the loss of his twin brother and both his parents early in life. His incredible skill with every sport he tried propelled him beyond his humble origins and the racial prejudice he faced as an American Indian to a legendary status as one of the 20th century’s most notable athletes.

As a student at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, he was an All-American in football, playing halfback, defender, punter, and place-kicker. He mastered nearly every sport offered at Carlisle, including basketball, lacrosse, tennis, handball, bowling, golf, swimming, hockey, boxing, and gymnastics. He even won a ballroom dancing contest. However, it was in track and field where he really excelled.

At the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, Thorpe won both the pentathlon and the decathlon, and finished tied in fourth for the high jump and seventh in the long jump. King Gustav V of Sweden congratulated Thorpe by saying “Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world.” To which Thorpe replied: “Thanks, King.”

Impoverished at his death, his third wife struck an agreement with two Pennsylvania towns desperate for tourism to create a memorial and bury his remains. Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk merged under the new town name of “Jim Thorpe,” and the athlete’s body now rests under a monument in a landscape he never saw, in a town he never visited.


  1. I am not sure why the two towns felt the need to pay his widow to change the name. Interestingly at the website shorpy.com photos from the ghastly named Mauch Chunk have been posted recently. Jim Thorpe is a strange town name, but better than the former.

  2. ...Jim Thorpe is a town that needs to be on my list, a beautiful collection of buildings and an interesting story behind the name. Thanks Jackie.

  3. I come from eastern PA but never saw these places. But I recognize the back home flavor!!
    Thanks for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2020/04/loving-springtime.html

  4. What a wonderful selection of buildings!

  5. Wow, that's quite a history! It's a lovely little town. I love learning bits of history like this :)

    Thanks for taking part at 'My Corner of the World' this week! It's good to see you.

  6. What an interesting turn of events. - Margy


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