Riding the wave of prosperity along river, canal, Switchback Gravity Railroad and overland railroads as 'black diamonds' (anthracite coal) were transported by increasingly efficient means, famous as the "Switzerland of America" to 19th century rail excursionists, the town declined economically in the 20th century when petroleum replaced coal in home and industry and rail excursion tourism was replaced by the automobile.
Switchback Gravity Railroad Model
In 1954, economic revival took a strange course. Mauch Chunk traded its name for the body and name of 1912 Olympic hero Jim Thorpe. Although this bizarre exchange received nationwide attention, it did little to revitalize the town. Revitalization came to Jim Thorpe over several decades through promotion of the town's historical and architectural legacy, and the natural beauty of its surroundings.
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Museum Founder & Director: John Drury.
Site Content Written by: Joan Gilbert.