From ancient Native American settlements in the area dating back over 10,000 years to the arrival of the first European immigrants in the 1700s, the Pocono Mountains region has a rich history to explore. Museums in the Poconos are perfect for family outings and offer visitors the chance to get a first-hand look at the past.
Marvel at the first commercial locomotive in the U.S., behold the notorious Lincoln Flag or walk through the beautiful gardens where the "Father of the American Conservation Movement" learned his love of nature: they're all in the Poconos. Check out eight of the historical attractions located throughout our four counties and see how many you can stop by during your trip!
Asa Packer Mansion
Set on a hill overlooking historic Jim Thorpe, the Asa Packer Mansion was built in 1861 for Asa Packer and his family. The future multi-millionaire arrived in town in 1832 during the coal mining boom to work as a humble canal barge captain, and his vision soon transformed the transportation of coal as he pioneered construction of the local railroad. Packer was also a noted philanthropist and founder of Lehigh University. Step back in time to see what life was like for the Packer family in the beautiful 18-room Italianate villa, preserved in all its Victorian glory.
Located in charming downtown Milford, the Columns Museum is home to the Pike County Historical Society. Exhibits throughout this 1904 neo-classical mansion highlight area artifacts and American history. One of the most notable items on display is the Lincoln Flag, a piece of bunting from Ford Theatre which was torn down to cushion President Lincoln's head. The museum also has genealogical records available for those in search of their own history.
Dorflinger Glass Museum
In the 1860s, renowned glassmaker Christian Dorflinger began producing exquisite cut crystal in the town of White Mills in the Pocono Mountains, just north of Hawley. His glassware was prized all over the country, with some pieces even gracing the presidential dining table at the White House. Today, visitors can admire over 1,000 pieces at the Dorflinger Glass Museum, home to one of the nation’s largest displays of Dorflinger Crystal. The property is also home to the Dorflinger-Suydam Wildlife Sanctuary and 600 acres of preserved woodlands. The Dorflinger Factory Museum is located nearby and offers a look at how the beautiful crystal was made.
Grey Towers National Historic Landmark
Perched atop 100 secluded acres in Milford, the majestic Grey Towers National Historic Landmark was built in 1886 as a summer retreat for the Pinchot family. Grey Towers later became the permanent residence of son Gifford Pinchot, a pioneer in the American conservation movement. With a passion for protecting and preserving the environment, Gifford founded the United States Forest Service and served as the first Chief Forester under President Teddy Roosevelt. President John F. Kennedy called Pinchot the "Father of the American Conservation Movement" when he visited Milford to dedicate the Gifford Pinchot Institute at Grey Towers in 1963. Now owned by the US Forest Service and established as a National Historic Landmark, the grounds of Grey Towers are open seven days a week during daylight hours.
Old Jail Museum
Another gem in downtown Jim Thorpe, the Old Jail Museum is a must-see. The Jail was in operation from 1871 to 1995, and its claim to fame was the hanging of seven notorious miners known as the Molly Maguires. In Cell 17, a hand-print of a prisoner who proclaimed his innocence has eerily remained on the wall for hundreds of years. Tours are available May through October. For the brave, late-night ghost tours in the fall let you see for yourself if rumors of supernatural activities at the jail are true.
Pocono Indian Museum
The Pocono Indian Museum in East Stroudsburg showcases the history of the region’s earliest residents, the native Delaware Indian. Ancient artifacts, weapons and tools dating as far back as 10,500 BC were discovered at the nearby Shawnee-Minisink Archaeological Site, telling the story of the Lenape and how their culture developed over thousands of years. Open daily year-round apart from Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Pocono Indian Museum also features a large gift shop full of both traditional and non-traditional treasures
Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm
Journey to the past to experience life on the farm. Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm outside Stroudsburg is a live-action museum preserving 19th century Pennsylvania German heritage. “Family” members dressed in period attire re-enact the lives of the original farmers who lived here from the 1760s to 1913. The farm is open for summer tours and offers live agriculture demonstrations and exciting events and special holiday festivities throughout the year.
Wayne County Historical Society & Museum
Train enthusiasts won’t want to miss a stop at the Wayne County Historical Society & Museum in Honesdale, known as the birthplace of the American railroad. Engineers from The Delaware & Hudson Canal Company commissioned the "Stourbridge Lion" in 1829, and it became the first railroad steam locomotive to be operated in the United States. A replica of the Stourbridge Lion is permanently on display at the Wayne County Historical Society, which is housed in the former headquarters of the D&H Canal Company. The museum also highlights other aspects of local history with displays of Native American artifacts and Dorflinger crystal. Just down the street, The Stourbridge Line carries on the tradition of the original Lion, offering scenic train rides along the Lackawaxen River.
These eight museums are just the beginning! Browse all our historical attractions to find even more can't-miss heritage sites, like the Roebling Aqueduct Bridge, a National Historic Landmark, and Boulder Field, a National Natural Landmark. Dive into more local history by touring the Pennsylvania historical markers in the area. You can even book a stay at classic historic resorts and places to stay to immerse yourself in the glamor of the past - without giving up any modern comforts or amenities!
- 9 minute read
You've probably spotted these distinctive dark blue signs with gold lettering along the roadsides of the Pocono Mountains and throughout the state of Pennsylvania. They're part of the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Program, and…
- 6 minute read
By horse-drawn carriage, train or car, visitors have journeyed to the Pocono Mountains region to enjoy an escape to nature for over 200 years. Historic Poconos hotels offer a trip to bygone eras, from scenic bed and breakfasts that pay…