The bones of Olympian Jim Thorpe have been with us for 55 years. Reluctantly, the town had agreed to accept them with the hopes of a major new hospital along with a national football museum - recipes for job creation and tourism.
While this bizarre exchange (a memorial and final resting place for an athletic hero's remains and a town's name) made national headlines, it did little to directly enhance the local economy - since the anticipated hospital and football museum never materialized.
However, the result of combining Mauch Chunk and the Heights with East Mauch Chunk into the town of Jim Thorpe made for a more efficient municipal government and improved cooperation between the two entities. More importantly, many in the town envisioned a new era of tourism - an industry that had succumbed to the Depression 25 years earlier. That spark, that recollection of Mauch Chunk's glory days when tourism was the principal industry, as it is today, was re-ignited in many and seen as a prescription for a new dawn.
That new dawn came slowly with a boost along the way from those who saw hope from despair, grandeur in dilapidated buildings, history in neglected trails and railroad tracks, the overgrown canal and the beauty of the Lehigh River and surrounding mountains.
Joe Boyle and Jim Thorpe have initiated this process for us. We can still honor Jim Thorpe's memory as a great athlete and as a forerunner of the town's revitalization. We don't need his bones to do this.
Cooperate with his family's desire; honor their culture, and let them return his bones to their place of origin. Nothing changes for us; everything changes for them.
John Drury, President
Mauch Chunk Museum & Cultural Center