Pennsylvania: Cumberland County

Cumberland County (pop. 235,406) is east of Franklin County and just west of Harrisburg. It’s one of nine Cumberland counties in the U.S.

The county seat of Cumberland County is Carlisle (pop. 18,682).

Old Courthouse (1846)

The Carlisle Indian Industrial School (1879-1918) was the flagship Indian boarding school in the U.S.

Over the years, more than 10,000 children attended.

In 1911-12 the Carlisle football team, starring Jim Thorpe and coached by Glenn “Pop” Warner, defeated Harvard and other football powerhouses of the day.

When the Indian School closed, the land and facilities became part of the U.S. Army War College. Today, the college has about 800 students at a time.

Carlisle is also the home of Dickinson College, founded in 1773, a private liberal arts school with about 2,000 students.

The community of Shippensburg (pop. 5,492) is the home of Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, a public school with about 8,000 students.

Shippensburg has “The World’s Largest Paint Can.”

Bret Michaels, lead singer of the band Poison, grew up in the Cumberland County community of Mechanicsburg.


Pennsylvania: Carbon County

Carbon County (pop. 65,249) is in a historic coal-mining area, east of Schuylkill County. The only other Carbon counties are in Montana, Utah, and Wyoming.

Because of its mountainous terrain, Carbon County has been called the “Switzerland of America” – along with Ouray (Colorado), eastern Tennessee, northeastern Iowa, and Lake County (California).

Blue Mountain

The county seat of Carbon County is the borough of Jim Thorpe (pop. 4,781), the “Gateway to the Poconos.”

Carbon County Courthouse (1893)

The original name of Jim Thorpe was Mauch Chunk, derived from a Native American term that may have referred to a nearby mountain. Mauch Chunk was originally a company town, founded in 1818 by the owners of a coal company.

Jim Thorpe railroad station (1888)

The Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway (1828-1932), which hauled coal down the mountain to town, was the second permanent railroad in the U.S. and the first to carry passengers.

In 1954, the widow of Jim Thorpe (the renowned Native American athlete from Oklahoma), made an arrangement with Mauch Chunk to have the town renamed in his honor and a monument (with his remains) erected.

Jim Thorpe (the man) had no connection to Mauch Chunk. He attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, 100 miles away in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Jim Thorpe (the community) is known for its historic architecture, including the adjacent Asa Packer Mansion (a museum) and Harry Packer Mansion (a bed and breakfast).

The largest community in Carbon County is Lehighton (pop. 5.500), home of Country Junction, “The World’s Largest General Store.”

There’s a petting zoo.

The old mining town of Lansford had a population of 9,632 in 1930; in 2010, it was 3,941. The No. 9 Mine and Museum is now a tourist attraction.

In the community of Nesquehoning (pop. 3,349), the former high school (1919) was renovated into apartments in 1998.

The school closed in the 1960s.

Lehigh Gorge State Park is popular for whitewater rafting.