Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mauch Chunk

In 1953, the towns of Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk merged, purchased the body of athlete Jim Thorpe from his widow, built a tomb, and changed their name to Jim Thorpe in hopes of attracting tourists. Before that, Mauch Chunk's claim to fame was it's gravity railroad. Built in 1827 to move coal 8.7 miles from the mines at Summit Hill to the coal chutes at Mauch Chunk, the railway used mules to haul the cars to the top of Pisgah Mountain and then used gravity to get back down the mountain. In 1846 a second track was laid and steam winches replaced mules for the uphill. It didn't take long for the coal company to realize that people were willing to pay to take the round trip on the gravity railroad. (The technology used by the gravity railroad is the same used by roller coasters.) The four hour ride to the top and the thirty minute downhill became a major American tourist attraction. Unfortunately, the route couldn't survive the great depression. Foreclosed, the only purchaser to show an interest was a scrapper who purchased the system, tore it up for the value of the rails. This card predates the divided back style that allowed for messages. It's addressed to "Miss Grace Book, No 58 fifth st., Bloomsburg, Pa." Postmarked, "MAUCH CHUNK 1905." The rest of the info is obscured. Printer, "H.C. Leighton Co., Portland, Me., Manufacturers of Postal Cards. Made in Germany. No 1130."

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