Recently I did a book-signing in a small town near my home, Jim Thorpe, Pa. The town has been dubbed Little Switzerland of America because of the way it is nestled in between three mountains. Its original name, before being renamed after the great Olympic athlete, Jim Thorpe, was Mauch Chuck which means sleeping bear.

Many of you might recall the 1970 movie ‘The Molly Mcguires’, starring Richard Harris and Sean Connery. It was based on the stories of the Irish coal miners of this town and filming did occur in Mauch Chuck.

Now, I’ve been to Jim Thorpe many times. I’ve driven through it on my way north. I’ve even did lunch and some shopping there ( And believe me they have a lot of great shops and yummy places to eat), but I’ve never visited its most famous landmark until yesterday when my DH and I went back, celebrating our anniversary. The landmark, The Asa Packer Mansion.



Isn’t it beautiful? I wish I had a picture from the top of the mountain looking down on the charismatic town, showing casing this stately manor.

This beautiful Victorian landmark was built in 1861 by Asa Packer who was born in Mystic, Connecticut, and after working as a farmer in CT and as a carpenter in New York came to Mauch Chuck in 1833. Here he became the owner of a canal boat which carried coal to Philadelphia. Later, Packer established the firm of A. & R. W. Packer, which built canal-boats and locks for the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company. In 1851 he gained the majority of stock for the Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill & Susquehanna Railroad Companies and formed the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company.

Packer was also active in politics. In 1841 and 1842 he was a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. In 1843-1848, he was county judge of Carbon County under Governor David R. Porter. He served two terms as a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives beginning in 1853. In 1868, he made an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic Party's Presidential nomination. He got the party's nod for the 1869 Pennsylvania Governor's race, but lost the campaign to John W. Geary by 4,596 votes, one of the closest statewide races in Pennsylvania history.

In 1865 he gave $500,000 and 115 acres in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, for a technical school. Lehigh University was chartered in 1866, and its main building, Packer Hall, was completed in 1869. For the first 26 years of Lehigh's existence, the university was tuition free. Way To Go ASA!



(View of mountains from the huge front porch)

Asa and Sarah Packer’s home is beyond amazingly beautiful. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside. But if you go here http://www.asapackermansion.com you can peek at the dining room and sitting. Believe me, the pictures do not do justice to the splendor of the house.

What is really amazing about this home is Asa and Sarah’s daughter, Mary, upon her death had willed the estate to the town of Mauch Chuck as a memorial for her father. The town didn’t know what to do with it and boarded it up. For 44 years, the house remained sealed with all of its valuables inside and not once was it vandalized.


Next to the Asa Packer Mason, stands the Harry Packer house. Asa and Sarah had built the house as a place for his engineers and other guests to stay. It house was later given to their son Harry and his wife Gussie as a wedding present. It too, stood in disrepair for many years before being brought in the 1980’s and turned into a beautiful B&B. If the Harry Packer house looks familiar and you’ve been to Disney World, you’ll know why. Disney used the house as the design for their haunted house.


All this was in my backyard and I never knew the whole story. You can bet I’m going back to Mauch Chuck to learn more about the little town and its past. I hear they have ghost walks. Perfect for October.

For more pictures of my trips to Jim Thorpe visit Autumn Jordon's Fan Page on FaceBook and remember to like it. WINK Thanks.

18 comments

  1. Mary Marvella // October 5, 2011 at 1:46 AM  

    Good morning, Autumn! Thanks for the lovely blog.We often forget the interesting things within traveling distance of out own homes.

  2. Autumn Jordon // October 5, 2011 at 9:40 AM  

    Every area is rich in history. We learn about our surrounds as children and many times we take them for granted. The outside world always looks more interesting.

    I must add, my DH and I had a long conversation with our manison guide--before and after the tour. He served in the U.S. Army for ten years during many trying times in the sixties and seventies. As a major and a advisor to generals, he had many stories to tell and you know I had my pen and pad ready.

    We will be going back to learn more from him.

  3. Beth Trissel // October 5, 2011 at 10:09 AM  

    What a wonderfully scenic area and beautiful old home. Reminds me of some in the Shenandoah Valley, as does that region. Thanks for such a lovely post, Autumn.

  4. Autumn Jordon // October 5, 2011 at 10:29 AM  

    Thanks, Beth. I like what really grabs me about the little town is the creative atmosphere. Everywhere you turn there are artists and crafters, including the lady whose strawberry-banana jam I had for breakfast this morning. YUM

  5. Nightingale // October 5, 2011 at 11:25 AM  

    Tha Henry Packer house is fabulous! I enjoyed all the other photos as well. You live in a beautiful place Autumn.

  6. Judy // October 5, 2011 at 11:27 AM  

    Great blog, Autumn! It's amazing what you can find in your own backyard! When I go back to upstate New York State where I grew up, I'm always amazed at the beautiful landscape and recall that I didn't think that much of it growing up, just took it for granted. Glad you had such a wonderful day! Happy Annivesary!

  7. Autumn Jordon // October 5, 2011 at 11:56 AM  

    Everyone thinks thier home is special and there are. Home holds our hearts.

    Thanks, Nightgale and Judy.

  8. Mona Risk // October 5, 2011 at 12:22 PM  

    There are so many lovely places in the country. I often tell my DH to start exploring the local places before roaming around the globe. Thank you for the story and pictures Autumn. I love old historical mansions and picturesque village.

  9. Autumn Jordon // October 5, 2011 at 12:29 PM  

    Oh, Mona, thank you for the compliament. I love your posts. I don't know if I'll ever see the places you've been to and I appreciate you sharing.

  10. Susan Macatee // October 5, 2011 at 12:43 PM  

    Beautiful photos, Autumn! We used to take vacations in the Pocono Mountains and took scenic drives into New York state just across the PA/NY border. The scenery is gorgeous. We also have traveled out to Gettysburg and south into Maryland and Virginia on the western side.

    No matter what part of the country you live in, there's beauty and history to be found.

  11. Maeve // October 5, 2011 at 12:48 PM  

    Great post, Autumn! The pictures are gorgoeus.

    :-)

  12. Autumn Jordon // October 5, 2011 at 2:07 PM  

    True, Susan. I would love to go visit Rachael Brimble and few other friends in differnt countries, but there is so much to see here in the USA. Thanks for taking a peek, today.

  13. Autumn Jordon // October 5, 2011 at 2:07 PM  

    The house and town is even better, Mauve. If you ever visit you must let me know.

  14. Pamela Varnado // October 5, 2011 at 3:54 PM  

    Autumn, the mountains in the background remind me of Germany. I loved my time there. Everything is grander when you have mountains for a backdrop. The air is fresher, the smells are aromatic, the water more pure.

  15. Autumn Jordon // October 5, 2011 at 8:09 PM  

    I do love my mountains too. Germany is a dream vacation for me. Maybe one day. SIGH

  16. Josie // October 6, 2011 at 3:13 PM  

    Autumn,
    Thanks for sharing such an interesting blog and the info on the beautiful town and homes.

    We pass through Pennsylvania on the way to NY at least twice a year. Sometime, we should take a scenic side trip.

  17. Caroline Clemmons // October 6, 2011 at 7:15 PM  

    Autumn, loved the post. Wish I could visit there myself! Thanks for sharing.

  18. Autumn Jordon // October 6, 2011 at 10:41 PM  

    Thanks, Josie and Caroline. If you do make this way, you must let me know.