All the information that I’m about to post here came from the Mauch Chunck
Historical Society I will include the link to the site. I did not write any of
this it’s right from the site I’m only borrowing the information from them. I do
not own any of the information that I’m about to post. Here is the link to the
page where you can find all the information on and where I borrowed the
information from as well :http://mauchchunkhistory.com/home.html
Most people when they think of this town think that Jim Thorpe has put us on the map well that is not full true we were put on the map long before his body came here, but he did help to make us popular again. Here is how it all started long long ago.
A Tourist Town
The Switchbak gravity railroad was used for tourism almost from the very beginning when it was just the down track from SH to MC. There was a time from about 1836 until 1846 that it was closed to tourists and used only for coal, but once the back track (including the two planes) was built it opened to tourists again. Besides the tourists who were just there for the ride, the line was also used as local transportation between Chunk and Summit Hill. The tourists also would descend into the Panther Valley and get a tour of the coal workings on the old SB. That changed in 1872 when the tunnel opened between the Panther and Hauto valley and the SB was no longer used to haul coal.
There was a short time when they actually considered abandoning the Switchback Railroad line before they realized they could still make money from it as a people carrier and tourist attraction. This also coincided with the early development of Moore’s Ravine, which would become better known as Glen Onoko after a make-over by the Lehigh Valley Railroad. The earliest mentions of the Glen Onoko comes from a July 1872 newspaper article about an “expedition” to the site at a time before any of the trails were constructed and it was known as “Moore’s Falls”.
Less than a year later in an article from June 1873 there’s a story about a Philadelphia teaching college graduation class visiting “Glen Onoko”. Apparentnly there was a big change at the Glen over that year, including the creation of the trails and bridges making the trip up the falls easy. Keep in mind that graduates of a teaching college would have been nearly all women in their fine Victorian gear and ladys’ shoes.
1886 the Wahnetah Hotel was built at the Glen Onoko, The LVRR depot was also a very substantial building and there was a smaller CNJ RR depot at the site, too. Combined with the SB Railroad, these were the main tourist draws that made MC the 2nd most popular tourist destination in the US at the time.