The historic village of Jim Thorpe in the Pocono Mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania has become a draw for railroad buffs with the creation of the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway. Enthusiasts can enjoy a breathtaking train ride through the Lehigh Gorge, take a mine train into a coal mine, visit a huge model train display show and purchase railroad-related items at shops featuring vintage photos and “Anthracite Roads” (the railways that served eastern Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal region) merchandise.
Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway (Former Central RR of New Jersey Train Station, Jim Thorpe, PA, 18229, 570-325-8485): The Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, a remnant of the merged Lehigh Valley Railroad and Central Railroad of New Jersey, takes passengers on a one-hour, 16-mile narrated round trip of the winding Lehigh River, in old-style, diesel powered coaches from the 1920s. (The steam engine, only run on holidays or special occasions, will be used again on Labor Day Weekend.) Passengers can enjoy the splendid view of the Lehigh River Gorge through large windows in the open air Summer Wind car, or from the cupola or platform of the The Caboose. The Railway Gift Store is stocked with collectibles, memorabilia & souvenirs. For details and reservations, visit this website.
Old Mauch Chunk Model Train Display Show (41 Susquehanna Street (Rt. 209), 2nd Floor, Jim Thorpe, PA, 18229, 570-325-4371): After your train ride, don’t miss the Model Train Display Show in the Hooven Mercantile Building next to the railroad station. Touted as Jim Thorpe’s “best kept secret,” this huge display measures 47 x 22 feet, with 13 separate mainlines, 1,087 feet of track and over 100 bridges and trestles. Engines can pull as many as 50 railroad cars. Features of the display include local landmarks among the over 200 model buildings, moving autos travelling through authentic landscaping and a city scene, a stadium being prepared for a football game, and fire trucks rushing to a burning building. At Christmas and Halloween, the display is appropriately decked out for the seasons. Visit this website for more details.
No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum(9 Dock St, Lansford, PA, 18232, 570-645-7074): Just ten miles from Jim Thorpe you can take a train ride into the No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum. In service from 1855 to 1972, this mine is the world’s oldest continuously operated anthracite coal mine. Visitors are taken 1,600 feet into the mountainside, where life-sized replicas and displays of original equipment and artifacts outline the history of 200 years of mining. On the walking tour, you will see the underground mule-way, the original 900-foot deep elevator shaft and the miner’s hospital which was discovered during renovations. Guided tours are held on a varied schedule throughout the year. (See the schedule here.) Special events include theme picnics, a Living History Weekend/Renaissance Fair, Coal Miner’s Heritage Festival and Haunted Halloween Mine Tours. Visit this link for more details on special events.
The Museum and Gift Shop is open year round, Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 4:00 p.m. Groups and bus tours are welcome with advance reservations. Visit this website for more details.
Pufferbellys (36 Susquehanna Street, Jim Thorpe, PA 18229, Tel: 570-325-2528): “Pufferbellys,” a slang term for steam locomotives, stocks railroad-themed merchandise and gifts, including books, DVD’s, jewelry, license plates and tins signs, t-shirts, sweatshirts and caps, pre-owned Lionel starter sets, prints and posters and Railpace and TRP Magazines. It takes consignments and features merchandise for the Anthracite Roads. Visit this website for details and to purchase online merchandise.
The Gandy Dancer (12 Hill Road, Opera House Square, Jim Thorpe, PA, 610-533-3556): The Gandy Dancer is a photography shop which takes its name from a slang term used for early railroad workers who maintained railroad tracks. A “gandy” was a five foot rod used to align the tracks and the term is thought to have come from “dancing” movements the workers made while aligning the tracks. The Gandy Dancer carries restored vintage railroad photos from 20s and 30s, modern photos of Jim Thorpe, railroad and photography gifts and matted prints. They offer a full range of photography services. Visit this website for more details and to purchase online merchandise.
More Jim Thorpe articles; Historical sites in Jim Thorpe; Bed and Breakfasts in Jim Thorpe; Sources: JimThorpe.org; Wisegeek.com; Wiktionary