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Jim Thorpe, Lehigh River Sojourn
40 51' 53 N
75 44' 06 W

Jim Thorpe was the first settlement in the mountainous valley of the Lehigh River. It was known as Coaltown in 1815. Later, the town changed its name to Mauch Chunk, which means ”Bear Mountain” in the Lenni Lenape language. The black bear was a common site in the 1800’s and can still be seen today in the Mountains near Jim Thorpe.

In 1953, two separate events led another changing of the town’s name. First, the boroughs of Mauch Chunk, Upper Mauch Chunk, and East Mauch Chunk wanted to merge to increase the industry in the town. Second, the athlete Jim Thorpe died in California and his remains had been sent to his home in Oklahoma. The state of Oklahoma had promised to build a park dedicated to his memory. Later, they backed out of their plan. When this happened, Mrs. Thorpe negotiated with the boroughs of Mauch Chunk. In 1954, the boroughs agreed to merge and change the town’s name to Jim Thorpe. The town planned to take the money from the estate of Jim Thorpe to create a hospital and cancer research center. Unfortunately, Jim Thorpe’s estate turned out to be less valuable than predicted. It should be noted that Jim Thorpe never set foot in the town named after him.

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