Established in 1818 as Mauch Chunk, the town was later named Jim Thorpe after the legendary Native American athlete. Here, entrepreneurs led by Josiah White formed the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company in the 1820s, and shipped countless tons of anthracite coal and other goods to market via the Lehigh and Delaware Canals. The town grew in importance when it was named Carbon County’s seat in 1843.
Its steep hillsides, narrow streets, and terraced gardens earned the town its nickname “The Switzerland of America.” The beauty of this region has beckoned people for almost two centuries. Today, the restored Old Mauch Chunk Railroad Station in the center of the town offers visitor services and train rides into Lehigh Gorge. The Mauch Chunk Opera House presents live theater and music. Visit the home of Asa Packer, founder of Lehigh University. Tour the Old Carbon County Jail, once occupied by the Molly Maguires – the alleged Irish mining organization seeking better working conditions.