Anchored by the town of Jim Thorpe, Carbon County of the Pocono Mountains offers the odd juxtaposition of two distinct elements of Americana -- love of leisure time and the outdoors and our industrial heritage.
Situated in a region filled with clear lakes, wide-open countryside and rugged mountains, Carbon County offers year-round, outdoor activity. With three ski resorts to choose from -- Blue Mountain in Palmerton and Big Boulder in Lake Harmony and Jack Frost in Blakeslee --winter visitors can find abundant skiing, snowboarding, snowtubing and snowmobiling, plus organized activities for children.
Carbon County is home to three state parks and two recreation areas -- Mauch Chunk Lake Park in Jim Thorpe, Francis E. Walter Dam and Recreation Area between White Haven and Bear Creek, Beltzville State Park in Beltzville, Lehigh Gorge State Park which spans both Carbon and Luzerne Counties and Hickory Run State Park -- which provide prime fall foliage viewing. During spring and summer, visitors enjoy whitewater rafting, hiking, picnicking, sailing, swimming, fishing and mountain biking.
Carbon County's county seat is Jim Thorpe (formerly Mauch Chunk) a town rich with history. This unusual Victorian town was named for the controversial Native American athlete who was forced to relinquish his Olympic gold medals when it was discovered that he had played one season of professional baseball. The town of Jim Thorpe was home to the first railroad in the United States and the men who made their millions from the railroads. One of Jim Thorpe's premier attractions is the Asa Packer Mansion, home of the most famous and most wealthy of the railroad tycoons, and the founder of the Lehigh Valley Railroad and the Lehigh University. This Victorian mansion, built in 1860, still holds its original furnishings.
Visitors may want to plan their time in the Pocono Mountains around one of Carbon County's annual festivals. October's Fall Foliage Festival offers arts and crafts, food and entertainment right in the center of Jim Thorpe. The Olde Time Christmas Celebration provides festive, old-fashioned fun for all ages.
Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor information is available at www.delawareandlehigh.org/.
Monroe County's popularity as a vacation destination dates back to 1820. By 1900, the high altitudes were attracting thousands of visitors from Philadelphia and New York City. Today, tourism is the largest single industry in Monroe County. Considered the eastern 'gateway to the Poconos' through the Delaware Water Gap, Monroe County is the most populated of the four Pocono Mountains counties. Similar to the other three, there is a wide variety of year-round activities to choose from.
Visitors to Monroe County often search out "Sullivan's Trail," the portion of the route of General John Sullivan's famous march of 1778 from Easton to New York that reaches from Tannersville to Pocono Pines. This trail leads visitors to the road that scales Big Pocono Mountain, one of the highest points in the Pocono Mountains that offers magnificent vistas.
Monroe County is home to Pocono Raceway another popular attraction near Blakeslee in the western Pocono Mountains. It hosts two NASCAR Cup Series races in the summer. Those interested in driving on the famous tri-oval can go to the Stockcar racing experience to take on the 2 1/2 mile track. Blakeslee offers close proximity to such attractions as Hickory Run State Park, Lehigh Gorge State Park, and the Lehigh River. Ski areas nearby include Big Boulder and Jack Frost Mountain. Big Boulder and Jack Frost, along with Split Rock Resort are also desirable places for year-round accommodations and entertainment close to Blakeslee.
The Pennsylvania portion of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area lies in Monroe and Pike Counties, straddling the Delaware River. Hiking, cross-country skiing and equestrian trails, fishing, interpretive programs, and 25 miles of the infamous Appalachian Trail are found in or around the recreation area.
A visit to Monroe County isn't complete without a stop in Stroudsburg, the county seat. An old- fashioned Main Street community, Stroudsburg's quaint streets lined with art galleries, restaurants, churches and shops, invite visitors to sit a while and feel right at home. Be sure to visit the Stroud Mansion, home of the Monroe County Historical Association Museum.
East Stroudsburg, adjacent to Stroudsburg is home to many great spots for shopping and dining. East Stroudsburg University, a member of Pennsylvania's state system of higher education, is located in the heart of town. The town hosts several seasonal community events, including Fourth of July and Christmas festivals.
Antiquing is quite popular here as well. Throughout the county, dealers are numerous and range from large cooperative venues to independent vendors along a quiet country roadway.
The historical lore of Pike County goes back to the days of the Minisink, Lenape and Paupack Indians. The countryside is alive with historic buildings and original settlements. A drive through it offers a wealth of historical markers telling of events past, as well as a world of outdoor wonders, such as 'The Niagara of Pennsylvania,' Bushkill Falls.
The town of Milford was named one of Pennsylvania's "Prettiest Painted Places" by the Paint Quality Institute. It was also home to Gifford Pinchot, the first director of the US Forestry Service under Theodore Roosevelt. The Pinchot Estate is now administered by the Forestry Service as the Pinchot Institute for Conservation Studies and is considered their most precious resource.
The Zane Grey Museum, former home of the famous western fiction writer and author of "Riders of the Purple Sage" overlooks the Roebling Aqueduct, a wire suspension bridge that was the forerunner to the Brooklyn Bridge. The Roebling Bridge is the oldest wire suspension bridge in the United States.
Lake Wallenpaupack, which lies in both Pike and Wayne Counties, is the third largest man-made lake in Pennsylvania. It was built in 1926 by Pennsylvania Power & Light Company. Fifteen miles in length, Lake Wallenpaupack provides 52 miles of shoreline for outdoor recreation. Visitors to the Northern Pocono Mountains will find rentals of any type of water sport equipment from canoes to water skis, sailboats and ice fishing equipment, readily available.
Outdoor recreation is a natural in Pike County with many species of fish to catch, canoeing and rafting down the Delaware River, viewing waterfalls and hiking trails. Hawk and eagle watching along the Delaware River is also very popular. In fact, the Upper Delaware and Lackawaxen Rivers are the largest wintering areas for bald and golden eagles east of the Mississippi.
Honesdale -- more specifically, the county seat of Wayne County -- is the precise location of the birth of the American railroad. The first steam locomotive, the Stourbridge Lion, built in Stourbridge, England, was brought across the sea and set up on the tracks of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company in Honesdale in 1829. An exact replica can now be seen at the Wayne County Historical Building on Main Street. The original train is in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
The restored Victorian town of Hawley along the Lackawaxen River offers special events throughout the year, theatre productions and shopping. Antiquing is a favorite activity in Wayne County with more than 45 dealers to visit. The Dorflinger-Suydam Wildlife Sanctuary and Glass Museum offers hiking trails, summer outdoor concert series, art shows and a collection of over 600 pieces of Dorflinger glass which graced the tables of Presidents Lincoln to Wilson.
Wayne County has more lakes than any other county in Pennsylvania. So bring your rod - the trout, bass, walleyes, pickerel, muskies and salmon are biting.