Continuing on ... Saturday, 6/11/16
When the shuttle dude picked us up in Jim Thorpe following our Lehigh Gorge Trail bike ride, he gave us just enough of a town tour to entice us. But first, one of Hickory Run State Park's recommendations was a short hike to Hawk Falls, a mile-and-a-half round trip, half down/half up. As far as hikes go, this one was ok, but nothing to write home about, with lots of kids and grown-up kids whooping and hollering by the waterfall and its pool. We looked and left. And then we drove to Jim Thorpe. Jim Thorpe, you say?
It was a pretty cascade.
The day figured to be warm and humid, so we dressed in shorts. Parking was easy near the trail/train station, and once we put Smartie in the shade, we set off on a town explore.
Okay, thumbs up!
Stylish Dimmick Memorial Library (1889), constructed with local brick, is built in the Jacobean style. We walked about inside, admiring its beauty. But we didn't get any books!
We peeked in every open building we found, including an old Presbyterian church, circa 1837, now turned into an art gallery. The giant wheeled wooden structure in the center was very interesting!
It isn't too often you see a tree growing out of a chimney!
The town of Mauch Chunk is located in the Pocono Mountains. Loosely translated, Mauch Chunk means, "Sleeping Bear Mountain" in the native Delaware language. The name change to Jim Thorpe is a fascinating story. In part: After the Olympic athlete, Jim Thorpe, passed away in 1953, his third wife, Patricia, contacted the town of Mauch Chunk (they were desperately seeking to attract business), and made a deal with city officials to bury him there as a memorial to him, in return for renaming the town to Jim Thorpe. There's more to it than just these bare facts (as you can imagine). All of this was news to us. Google it if you want more info.
This line of houses with colorful embellishments on Race Street is called "Stone Row," and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (1849). Most of the buildings have become tourist shops.
The Episcopal church of St Mark and St John offers free tours. Jimmy and I simply inserted ourselves into one, and enjoyed it very much. The tour highlights the room’s marble altar, stained glass windows (including priceless Tiffany windows), and its original tile floor (1869 and still shiny!) above. It's truly an incredible sacred structure.
As we circled around the town, wishing the temperature was a few degrees lower, or the humidity level had dropped into the basement, we came upon the scenic railway cars. If we'd had more time, we could have and would have ridden the train on basically the same route we bicycled the day before. But ... you've heard it before ... you just can't do it all. I'm sure we would have enjoyed the ride.
On our way out of town and back to our campsite, we stopped at Jim Thorpe's monument. He was "the world's greatest athlete." Apparently he could do anything Born in 1887, he participated in the 1912 Stockholm, Sweden Olympics and overall, Jim Thorpe won eight of the 15 individual events comprising the pentathlon and decathlon ,.,, and so much more. I knew he was an Olympian and I'd heard his ancestry was part Native American, but I learned a great deal about a humble champion by visiting the small town named in his honor.