Anyone who has been to Jim Thorpe the past two weekends knows how attractive the town is to tourists. Busloads of people visit. By lunchtime last Sunday the main parking lot beneath the bridge was closed because it was filled to capacity.

The train rides that are available have taken hundreds of people through areas such as Hauto Valley, Penn Haven Junction, and the High Bridge in Hometown to marvel at fall's splendor.

While on the train last Sunday, we spoke with people from Florida. There were also people on the train from Massachusetts and Wyoming.

A special treat this Saturday will be the arrival and departure of the railroad's antique steam engine.

In addition, rides again will be offered to the High Bridge in Hometown, which is one of the railroad's most popular treks.

Meanwhile, last Sunday, the same scenerio existed in downtown Tamaqua for its Heritage Festival whereby the town was overrun with crowds many of them tourists.

Our area has become a major tourism mecca, with interesting attractions such as Boulder Field, the Mine Museum in Lansford, the Appalachian Trail, Jim Thorpe's Mausoleum, and, of course, historical downtown Jim Thorpe. Certainly these sites are a major boost to the local region's economy.

Tourist attractions, though, aren't just for folks visiting from far away. It's even more convenient for local residents to enjoy the festivals, scenery, and local history that is prevalent at these locations.

This coming weekend is the last in a series of Fall Foliage Weekends in downtown Jim Thorpe. If you haven't been to one, go visit and see what's luring people to the town. Take a train ride and enjoy not only the fall foliage, but a mode of transportation that was very popular to our forefathers.

Tourism isn't only for tourists from far away. It's for local residents to enjoy, too.

And with gasoline prices on the rise, visiting any local sites sounds like a great bargain.

Ron Gower

rgower@tnonline.com [1]