A Journey Through Jim Thorpe

A Journey Through  Jim Thorpe

The words “Let’s go to the dungeon,” are sometimes all they need to hear.

But, I digress. Let me start at the beginning.

We recently braved the Northeast Extension and made our way to spend the day in Jim Thorpe. As you come down mountain, you see this cute little town tucked in the valley. But you’ll soon find out, it is a lot more than a cute town. It is layered in history, and it abounds with outdoor activity.

The day we went to Jim Thorpe, it was buzzing. There were school buses scooting around transporting rafters here and there to points on the Lehigh River. The ticket lines for the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway were long. Blue Mountain Sports was doing quite the business with bike rentals, and the vendors in Josiah White Park were selling hot dogs as fast as they could bun them.

I was excited. But, minutes later, I found out the rest of my carload was not.

We parked and off we went. About 50 feet into our day I heard it… the mumbling from an unhappy little person. “My feet hurt.” This coming from my daughter who, almost daily, rams her feet into plastic Cinderella heels that she got 4 years ago and teeter-totters around for hours.

That was quickly followed by the grumbling from the unhappy 11-year-old. “I’m too hot.” This coming from my son who plays three-hour football ball games with his neighborhood posse at high noon in mid-July.

Great… here we go, I thought. But I ignored the mumblings and grumblings and continued on.

We started walking up Broadway Street and passed numerous sweet little boutiques. I peeked in longingly; however, as we all know, the sweet little boutique is the nemesis of any 11-year-old boy so I continued on.

“I’m hot,” huffed one. “My feet hurt,” groaned the other.

Yeah, got it… heard you the first time.

The restaurants – oh man – all sorts of fun and interesting eateries were scattered about. The one that peaked my interest was Moya on Race Street. I stood in the doorway of Moya salivating, and then I heard it over my shoulder, “Do you think they have pizza?” Oy. What I wouldn’t give to have one meal that didn’t involve pizza or a “nuggetized” meat. I continued on.

“My feet really hurt,” screeched one. “I’m sooooooo hot,” snarled the other.

Duly noted cherubs. Duly noted. We tucked into a book sale at the Dimmick Library. Whine, whine, whine.

We paused and sniffed the coffee smells at Strange Brew. Gripe, gripe, gripe.

We passed the Opera House. Complain, complain, complain.

And then I saw it… like a beacon standing tall at the top of the hill. The beacon that would lead me out of the quagmire I was currently in. The beacon that would guide me toward the possibility of regaining my sanity. That beacon – The Old Jail.

“Well children, guess what we ARE doing… we are touring the jail.”


I marched us in, plunked down our admission money, and we took the tour. We learned about the Molly Maguires, who turned out NOT to be female. We heard the history of the jail, and how the warden and his family used to live there. Oh, and lived with a guard stationed in their bathroom 24 hours a day. What? We saw the gallows, the mysterious “hand print” on the wall, and cells, the oh-so-small cells.

Then our guide said the words I longed to hear and to use for my benefit, “Let’s go down to the dungeon.”

Hehehehe. Jackpot.

She explained how when the prisoners were BAD (and I made eye contact with my kids) that they were LOCKED (I enthusiastically nodded my head) in the dark cell, (“So scary,” I whispered) shackled to the wall with no human contact for the duration of their dungeon sentence (“Oh My!” I gasped putting my hand over my mouth).

Scared straight. Mission accomplished.

I left the jail with two different kids. No more complaints of feet hurting; no more every-10-second-heat-index weather updates.

The rest of our day in Jim Thorpe was great. With renewed enthusiasm, we explored some shops including The Country Cottage, which has shelves and shelves of pickles. Probably not super exciting to the average reader, but the Di Cesare family are Pickle People so we were thrilled. We also visited art galleries, had ice cream, toured the train station, and threw rocks in the river.

Then our guide said the words I longed to hear and to use for my benefit, “Let’s go down to the dungeon.”

The final stop of our Jim Thorpe day was a hike at Glen Onoko Falls in the Lehigh Gorge State Park. The hike was a little challenging, a lot rocky, a tad slippery, and very beautiful. Take your time, be careful, but get to the waterfalls and then take a few minutes and watch your kids watch the waterfall.

Look at their faces. Doing that, you just might forget how they drive you crazy from time to time. You just might dismiss the groaning, moaning, whining, and whimpering. And you might, like I did, realize that one day they won’t be hanging out with you on a random Saturday so you better take it while you can and enjoy every minute of it.

Take some pictures, give them a hug, tell them you love them, and head down
the trail.

“My feet are starting to hurt again,” she whimpers.

“I’m getting so hot,” he proclaims.

Yeah… and welcome back to reality.

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