About This Place
Jim Thorpe is a borough in Carbon County, Pennsylvania, USA. The population was 4,804 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Carbon County. The town has been called the "Switzerland of America" due to the picturesque scenery, mountainous location, and architecture; as well as the "Gateway to the Poconos."
The name Mauch Chunk ( /ˌmɔːk tʃʌŋk/) was derived from the term "bear mountain" in the language of the native Lenape people, an apparent reference to a local mountain that resembled a sleeping bear. The town was founded in 1818 by Josiah White, founder of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company. It rapidly became a railroad and coal-shipping center, and was home to the Mauch Chunk Switchback Gravity Railroad, generally acknowledged as the first roller coaster in the United States. The city was the location of one of the trials of the Molly Maguires in 1876, which resulted in the hanging of four men found guilty of murder. The population in 1900 was 4,020; in 1910, it was 3,952.
Following the 1953 death of renowned athlete and Olympic medal winner Jim Thorpe, the boroughs of Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk merged and adopted the name of Jim Thorpe in hopes of attracting attention and tourism to bolster the local post-industrial economy. The town bought the athlete's remains from his third wife and erected a monument to the Oklahoma native, who began his sports career as a student at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania (2 hours southwest, near Harrisburg). On June 24, 2010, a son of Jim Thorpe (Jack Thorpe of Shawnee, Okla.) sued the town over his father's remains under a Federal law designed to return Native American artifacts to their tribal homelands.