With roots dating back to the early 1800’s, the Poconos is rich in history. Previously consumed with tourism, coal mining and conservation, the locale past is one of robust antiquity.
Located in historic Jim Thorpe, the Asa Packer Mansion was built in 1861 for multi-millionaire Asa Packer. He moved to town during the booming coal mining industry, founded the local railroad and university and made significant contributions to the community.
This 18-room, Victorian-style mansion has been preserved in all its glory and can be toured seven days a week from Memorial Day to October 31.
One of the most notable exhibits is the Lincoln Flag, which has remained a key component of our nation’s past. The museum also has genealogy records available for those in search of their own history.
Nestled into the wooded forests of the Poconos, the Dorflinger Glass Museum is home to one of the nation’s largest displays of Dorflinger Crystal. Starting in the 1860’s, Christian Dorflinger produced the finest glassware here where some pieces were distinguished enough to reside in the White House.
Several exhibits display over 1,000 pieces of crystal throughout the museum. Tours are available Wednesday through Sunday from now until October 28.
Perched on top of 100, secluded acres sits Grey Towers National Historic Landmark. Built in 1886 in Milford as a summer retreat for the Pinchot family, Grey Towers later became son Gifford Pinchot’s permanent residence.
With a true love for the environment, Gifford introduced conservation to the country and founded the United State Forest Service. Since donated to the US Forest Service and established as a national landmark, mansion tours are available Thursday through Monday now until December.
Another gem in downtown Jim Thorpe, the Old Jail Museum is a must-see. Since it’s creation in 1871, the jail was in operation until 1995. It’s claim to fame is the hanging of the notorious Molly Maguires miners and Cell 17; a handprint of a prisoner who proclaimed his innocence has eerily remained on the wall for hundreds of years.
Rumored supernatural activity occurs at the jail when you least expect it. Come experience a late-night ghost tour in the fall or visit now except Wednesdays.
The Pocono Indian Museum is the only museum in the region that showcases the history of the native Delaware Indian. Dating as far back as 10,500 BC, the museum features ancient artifacts, weapons, and tools that the Indians weaved into the framework of their culture over thousands of years.
Open year-round besides Thanksgiving and Christmas, the museum also features a large gift shop full of both traditional and non-traditional treasures.
Step back in time to experience life on the farm. Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm is a life-action museum preserving the 19th century Pennsylvania German heritage that founded the farm. Period-dressed "family" members re-enact the life of the original family who lived here from the 1760s to 1913.
Live agriculture demonstrations and events occur throughout the year as well as special holiday festivities. The farm is now open for tours Tuesday through Sunday until Labor Day.
While in Honesdale, it pays to stop at the Wayne County Historical Society & Museum. Known as the birthplace of the American railroad, the Poconos has long ties to the train-era. Here a replica of The Stourbridge Lion, the country’s first locomotive, is permanently on display.
The museum also features histories relevant to the region with displays like Native American artifacts and Dorflinger crystal. Events take place at historical locations off-site throughout the county as well. Stop by Wednesday through Saturday and select Sundays.
We only showcased eight museums, but there’s so much more to see and learn! Be sure to visit our art galleries and performing & fine arts groups. Stay, play and eat while visiting our historic downtowns.
Check out these museums featured in our Pocono Mountains Magazine historical attractions segment for a bonus!