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Area History

The Pocono Mountains, usually just called the Poconos, are located in northeast Pennsylvania. These lush mountains hold among the most venerable of places in U.S. history. Over a dozen U.S. Presidents, including JFK, have associations with these mountains, but their importance was reserved much earlier than that.

Long before there was a United States, or even colonists, came the area's first inhabitants, the Native Americans. The Delaware, Iroquois, Shawnee, Minisink, Lenape, and Paupack tribes all laid claim to the area. There was also a Dutch settlement in the Poconos some 450 years ago. A deal struck with the Minisink tribe was supposedly to acquire the land from the Delaware River as far north as a man could walk in three days. The Minisink soon reneged, realizing they had sold it too cheaply, and began violent warring and massacres. At a later date, Benjamin Franklin ordered a string of forts to be built along the frontier range, and located them in Bushkill, Kresgeville, Shawnee, and Stroudsburg.

In all, the Poconos are divided into four counties. Northampton contributed land to both Wayne and Carbon counties, in their forming. The county seat of Carbon County is now called Jim Thorpe, after the famous Native American athlete and Olympic Gold Medal winner. Originally, the town was named Mauch Chunk. Once the second most popular honeymoon destination in the country, Mauch Chunk had fallen upon hard times by the 1950's. In a show of community spirit, despite the lack of funds, all the residents volunteered to donate “a nickel a week” towards buying the town a future. Jim Thorpe's widow was looking for the right place to bury her husband and, hearing of the nickel-a-week program, agreed to bury him there to help the town with a bit of a tourist's attraction. Mauch Chunk, which Jim Thorpe had never even visited, provided the plot and name-change. The county seat has been Jim Thorpe ever since.

As far back as U.S. history itself, the Poconos have distinguished themselves by producing extraordinary soldiers. The civil war had many great contributors from the region, but even in more recent times, the tradition continues. No less than five U.S. Army Generals from World War I on through the Vietnam War have come from the Poconos. The people of the region remember them and are proud of their sacrifices and contributions.

In many ways, the birth of the U.S. has roots in the Pocono Mountains, from the colonial days on through the settlements in Pennsylvania and beyond in through the 20th century. Museums chronicle these events and historical documents are preserved and cherished for visitors to see and enjoy. Still a pleasant and popular mountain vacation destination, the Poconos continue to distinguish themselves as one of America's great recreation places. A rich land of sylvan beauty, visitors find glimpses and views into both our past and our future in the mountains known as the Poconos.