PTN’s Brianna Strunk explores the brand new guided walking tour available seasonally in downtown Jim Thorpe!
You know Jim Thorpe as the booming tourist town, rich with Victorian charm. But let’s travel back to the 1800s when it boomed during the Industrial Revolution, thanks to the local discovery of anthracite.
Wealthy coal mine owners, railroad investors, and bankers lived in an area now known as Millionaire’s Row. U.S. Congressman Milo Dimmick’s family house is now a bed & breakfast, while the home of Civil War General Charles Albright most recently housed an Italian restaurant.
The Dolon House, another bed & breakfast on Millionaire’s Row, is where the town doctor lived and treated patients. Across the street, the former firehouse is now called Marion Hose Bar, a popular spot for food and drinks. The Mauch Chunk Opera House was once a Vaudeville House turned movie theatre after World War Two.
“Our historic Opera House hosted acts such as Al Jolson, who was later known as The Jazz Singer, Gypsy Rose Lee, and the Dorsey Brothers, who were from Lansford,” explained lead tour guide Jo Lynn Gazo.
Speaking of well-known visitors, The Inn at Jim Thorpe hosted a few as well. “Back in the heyday, Ulysses S. Grant stayed here as well as Theodore Roosevelt on his way to Upstate New York,” said Gazo.
Jim Thorpe National Bank is another stop on the narrated tour, where visitors can have their picture taken inside a 100-year-old vault. “The bank was founded by Morgan Powell, a coal mine boss who needed a place to put his money,” Gazo remarked.
And you know that famous film “The Molly Maguires” featuring Sean Connery and Richard Harris? It tells the story of Irish coal miners who began retaliating against their harsh work conditions. Seven of those “Molly Maguires”, as they were called, were imprisoned and executed at a former jail in Jim Thorpe.
Today, you can tour the Old Jail Museum and see the famous handprint left behind by one Molly Maguire, as a declaration of his innocence. The mysterious handprint never went away despite being washed, painted and plastered.
And although the courthouse where several Molly Maguires went on trial has since been torn down, a photo of the presiding judge, Samuel Dreher, hangs in Jim Thorpe’s current Courtroom One. “Our current courthouse was not built until the 1890s. The gallery itself, though, was featured in The Molly Maguires movie,” Gazo explained.
The 45-minute walking tours are available through St. Mark’s & St. John’s Episcopal Church on Race Street. They’re offered Memorial-Labor Day, then by appointment during the autumn season.