Creepy chronicles and ghostly encounters are on the must-do list this season.
The streets are boisterous, and the leaves are in their prime – Jim Thorpe can’t help but boast its beauty in October. The magnificent waves of mustard and bronze envelop the Lehigh River as it gently rolls through the endearing streets of downtown. Fall crisp air mingles with the smell of morning lattes, made all the more comforting by the fact they come from a small mom and pop coffee shop, as opposed to some unsightly chain drive through.
The good eats, quaint hotels, and smiles of passersby paint a charming and uncomplicated veneer, but, even the most delighted tourists can’t laugh away the paranormal past of town. You’ve likely heard chatter of the strange and spooky encounters people have had in this town–and it’s important to note that they still happen–a lot.
Michael Rivkin, owner of The Dolon House Bed and Breakfast (5 W Broadway) describes some of his regular guests as good “see-ers” meaning they see and interact frequently with spirits.
“One of our guests set her glasses in the open position on the end table every night […] she woke one night and was pat-pat-patting for the glasses because she couldn’t see, and her husband found them in the closed position on the headboard above the bed”.
Rivkin details how the guest claims she saw a small boy and an orange cat in her suite that night. The mirage she described, though, didn’t match the description of anyone known to have passed in his elderly estate.
“Three years later, we read in a newspaper article about the [former resident] Reverend Webster and how his son had passed away in that suite, and what do you know? The son had an orange cat”.
Such was life at the former B&B (The Parsonage), where Rivkin swears he captured a video of his dog interacting with a spirit.
An autumnal trip to Jim Thorpe isn’t truly complete without paying homage to the hauntings. If you want to experience town in all of its ghastly glory, don’t miss Saturday Nights at the Old Jail or the Rotary Ghost Walks through town. The tours are separate attractions, both worth adding to your itinerary.
The 1871 prison building high above West Broadway. The buildings' regal steps, and distinguished masonry likened it to a castle. Make no mistake about it, though: the jail is no haunted house. The creepy chronicles told inside this attraction are real.
Perhaps the most infamous and eerie anecdote is that of the prisoner’s handprint. It’s said that an inmate being escorted to the gallows once placed his hand on the wall of the jail. He pronounced his innocence and claimed his bare palm would leave a visible mark to prove his integrity. The handprint, Rivkin says, is clear as day.
“The old police chief—well his brothers went into the building to do some patching and painting years ago when they went to turn the jail into the museum. Now the brothers are about as much of ghost believers as I am a brain surgeon, meaning: they’re not” said Rivkin.
“And he left there and said ‘the [heck] if I know what else it could be’. It really is still there”.
To hear the narratives of the Old Jail, and mingle with spirits that still remain, leave the kids at home (ages 12+only allowed) . It’s a spooky, and even disturbing detour from the charm and beguile that adorns most local attractions.
The final ghost tour of the season is Saturday, October 29. From 6-9 PM, tours begin every 20 minutes. Admission is $15 per person. More information can be found here.
There isn't, however, a way to completely avoid the spirits by skipping a trip to the jail. As Rivkin puts it, “ there’s no doubt about it, here you’re in a ghost town”.
You could rub shoulders with the spirits just by strolling the main drag.
On a more family friendly note: A Rotary Ghost Walks Tour is a great way to get a sense for just how peculiar one of America’s favorite small towns is. The trek is about one mile long, and takes roughly an hour– that is , if no spirits steer your group astray.
Your costumed tour guide will be equipped with a lantern and ready to spill spine chilling stories from iconic buildings to prominent residents past. They start and finish at the well known Inn at Jim Thorpe. You’ll have to decide for yourself if the ghoulish tales told along the way are real, or simply frightening folklore. It has however been reported that ghouls and ghosts still live in the nooks and crannies of town are helping some visitors make up their minds.
“I always recommend stuff like that, I think it’s a really neat part of our history” says Rivkin.
The Rotary Ghost Walks are available for the rest of the month. Tours are available Fridays and Saturdays through November 12 for $15. Tickets can be purchased in advance; see more details here.
The concierge tells us the eerie activity in his place happens all year round— no more and no less around Halloween. But, since it is spooky season after all, it's a great time to indulge in the haunted history of Jim Thorpe. Ghost enthusiast or not, this my friends, is a ghost town.
Why let the creepy chronicles remain whispers when you can witness the haunted happenings first hand. There is delight in the devilish details!