Falling into the Poconos

I drove back up into the Poconos this past weekend to the picturesque little town of Jim Thorpe for their Fall Festival and some leaf peeping. The little Leigh High Valley town, was originally two towns,Mauch Chunck (Indian for Bear Mountain) and Eastern Mauch Chunk. Both thrived and blossomed with the discovery of anthracite coal.*

Tycoon Asa Packer was instrumental in developing Mauch Chunk into a 19th century center for commerce, canal trade and coal shipping. In the mid-1850s, Packer, worth a reported $54 million in today’s currency, was responsible for laying rail road tracks that connected Mauch chunk to Easton, PA and further into the NJ Central Railroad system, providing year round transportation for both coal and steel.

After the death of Native American and 1912 Olympian Jim Thorpe in 1953, the two small, economically struggling towns united and changed their name to Jim Thorpe after an appeal from Thorpe’s wife who was looking for support to build a memorial in honor of her husband. Thorpe’s native Oklahoma had turned away her request to to assist in developing a memorial.

Packer built two of the largest mansions in towns that sit high a top a hill, overlooking the canal. The mansion below, was built for Packer’s son Harry. This mansion would later be the model for the Walt Disney Haunted House.

Below is the Asa Packer mansion which sits next his son Harry’s. I had a hard time getting a clear shot of the due to the trees.

*Historical details supplied courtesy of http://www.visitjimthorpe.com/new/history.htm

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