September 06, 2008

Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

Here's an oddity of pop culture: a town named after an Indian who has no connection to the place.

Jim Thorpe, PennsylvaniaJim 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."

Mauch Chunk was founded in 1818 by 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 the trial 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 township 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 in Carlisle, PA (2 hours southwest, near Harrisburg).

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