Mauch Chunk Museum
Jim Thorpe, PA, formerly Mauch Chunk, is a small picturesque Pennsylvania town with a fascinating history. Established in a wilderness on the banks of the Lehigh River in 1818, Mauch Chunk became a bustling coal transportation center, tourist Mecca, and the esteemed seat of Carbon County by the middle of the 19th century.
Riding the wave of prosperity along river, canal, Switchback Gravity Railroad and overland railroads as ‘black diamonds’ (anthracite coal) were transported by increasingly efficient means, famous as the “Switzerland of America” to 19th century rail excursionists, the town declined economically in the 20th century when petroleum replaced coal in home and industry and rail excursion tourism was replaced by the automobile.
Discover how the industrial outpost of Mauch Chunk became a prosperous coal shipping town and 19th century tourist Mecca, second to Niagara Falls in popularity. Relive the town’s glory days when coal was King and tourism Queen. Learn of its economic demise and bizarre resurrection as Mauch Chunk traded its name for the name and body of 1912 Olympic hero, Jim Thorpe. Discover the feats and demons of Jim Thorpe,”The Greatest Athlete in the World.”
Commencing with an overview and tour of the Mauch Chunk Museum, courses follow the historical continuum:
- Industrial Outpost in a Wilderness
- The Lehigh Canal:Lifeline of the American Industrial Revolution
- Mauch Chunk’s Amazing Rollercoaster: The Switchback Gravity Railroad
- Mauch Chunk’s Millionaires & The Social Scene
- The Tourist Influx
- Economic Decline
- Mauch Chunk Trades Its Name for a Body
- Jim Thorpe: All American
- Arts/Crafts courses
- Lansford #9 Anthracite Mining Museum
- Asa Packer Mansion
- Old Jail (site of the Mollie Maguire hangings in Carbon County)
- Mauch Chunk Lake Park
- Carbon County Environmental Education Center
- Bus Tour of Jim Thorpe area
The story of Mauch Chunk is brought to life by video, images, artifacts, and four working models:
A water filled, working model of Josiah White’s Bear Trap Lock, a collapsible water powered lock which permitted trains of coal arks to travel down the Lehigh River.
A standard lock on the Lehigh Canal
An operable miter lock and drop gate lock on the Lehigh Canal.
A 30 ft replica of Mauch Chunk’s famous Switchback Gravity Railroad which progressed from a coal carrier to a passenger carrier of such magnitude that Mauch Chunk, “The Switzerland of America,” became second to Niagara Falls as a 19th century tourist destination.
Open all year, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., every day, except Monday. Groups by appointment.
Adults: $5.00, Children (under eight): $2.00