Daily Archives: August 14, 2012

Day trips: (Part 2) Coal country – The one percent and others

So, after seeing the postindustrial sights of Scranton, we headed south to the small town of Jim Thorpe – originally called Mauch Chunk, or “sleeping bear” in Lenape, then renamed after a famous early twentieth century athlete.

Back in its days as Mauch Chunk, during the first Gilded Age of the late 1800s, Jim Thorpe was popular with coal barons and the like. We toured the Asa Packer mansion – like everything else in town, it’s at the top of a steep hill. You aren’t allowed to take photos inside, or else I could show you the amazing woodwork. (Dozens and dozens of carved flowers, each unique, on the door frames, for example.) The guide said the flowers were produced by a team of Italian carvers, imported just for this project and required to work seven days a week to finish in time for the Packers’ fiftieth anniversary party (after which, Mr. Packer promptly died…well, within the year).

We also toured the old jail, notorious as the place where a group of coal miners – convicted of being “Molly Maguires”, violent labor organizers – were hanged in 1876. At least one of the men went to his death insisting that he was innocent.

Today’s Jim Thorpe, though, seems happy to welcome anybody. You can kayak or enjoy other woodsy activities, go on a scenic train ride, or just wander around checking out quirky little stores and admiring the Victorian architecture. But the day we were there, it rained every hour or so!

Our hotel featured a balcony and an indoor area for relaxing – off to the right of this picture were shelves stocked with various board games.

The town is full of odd little shops and restaurants –

– not to mention private homes with unusual paint jobs.

Quaint, relaxing, and fun to visit!