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By Elissa Garofalo, Executive Director
When we think of the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor’s mine to market story, women’s stories run scarce. Instead, names like Josiah, Asa and Erskine come to mind. Like so many legendary American figures, these guys were white haired, affluent and, well, men. With Women’s History Month upon us, there is no better time to recognize the women who make up the D&L Story.
While we have shared the story of Asa Packer, its important to also celebrate his daughter’s contributions to our trail town, Jim Thorpe. To her credit, Mary ensured the significance of her family would live on. Mary Packer Cummings resided in the family’s landmark mansion on the hill. Later, she bequeathed the home and all its contents to the Jim Thorpe Borough. She set the stage for her home to become a staple attraction for visitors—contributing to the revitalization of the town.
Mary, however, was one of many women who drove the celebration of Jim Thorpe’s history. Gertrude Apfelbaum wrote for her family-owned newspaper and is said to be the first woman to drive a car up the Mansion House Hill. Josephine Schatzel was President of the historical society and instrumental in the early preservation of the Mauch Chunk Opera House. Agnes McCartney was the feisty Irishwoman from Lansford who used her influence to help preserve the train station and Stone Row.
Today, it’s gratifying to see more women follow suit and champion our broader nationally significant story. We inspire connections to the D&L’s Geography, Geology, and Genius because of an immensely talented staff. It just so happens that this team includes names like Claire, Daphne, Kelly, Lauren, Martha, Miranda, Loretta, Aurelia, Pam and Emily.
On any given day you might see these women on a construction site, leading a tour or meeting, steering a 48-ton boat, managing a budget, organizing volunteers, or writing a grant. After which, they go home to be mom, grandmother, wife, daughter, partner and friend.
The first National Women’s Day was celebrated on February 28, 1909. One hundred one years (and a few days) later it’s my honor to acknowledge these women. They are creative, innovative and each one is a leader in their community, workplace and home.