More than 100 people gathered Thursday night to celebrate the grand reopening of the visitors center at the Old Mauch Chunk Train Station in Jim Thorpe.
Representatives of Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau, Carbon County Commissioners, Delaware and Lehigh Corridor Commission, Carbon Chamber and Economic Development and visitors were present.
At 6 p.m., dignitaries gathered in front of the train station for the ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the center, which will offer visitors a place to gather information and sit to make their plans for their stay in Jim Thorpe and Carbon County.
Carbon County and the visitors bureau worked together to update the interior that offers a friendlier, open space.
Carl Wilgus, president and CEO of the visitors bureau, said the update was long overdue.
"When the commissioners did renovations to the bathrooms, it brought attention to the fact that the interior of the visitor center needed some attention," Wilgus said.
Wilgus said that upgrade was completed in two phases. The first involved repointing the brick exterior, refinishing floors and paint. The second included redoing panels, installing video kiosks and updated brochure racks; and updating the town's timeline display. Benches were reused.
Jane Kohler of the visitors bureau said she is thrilled to be back in her space.
When the train station was closed for construction, Kohler had a seat in the temporary visitors center inside Pocono Biking. During that construction period the restrooms inside the train station were available for visitors.
The former train station is owned by Carbon County, and the project is being completed as a joint effort between the county and Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau.
Work began in January. The floor work was done by Paul Phillips Hardwood Floors of Hanover Township, at a cost of $7,190; while painting the interior walls was done by Dan's Painting of Jim Thorpe at a cost of $5,175.
Wilgus said the next project is the foot bridge, which will bring visitors to Jim Thorpe. He said that project should be completed in two years.
"We've created a space for people new to the area to see what is in Jim Thorpe and what else is in the county," said Wilgus.
Wilgus said other visitors centers are in Lake Wallenpaupack, Crossings Outlets, and Stroudsburg.
Commissioner Wayne Nothstein said that 88,615 signed the visitor book at the train station in Jim Thorpe last year.
"We believe that was a fraction of the people who visited Jim Thorpe," he said.
"I have no doubt that 1/2 million people were in Jim Thorpe to visit last year."