Fall In My Backyard
The signs of fall are upon us – cooler crisp air, early sunsets, pumpkin flavored everything and the burst of colors on the trees. I love the browns, oranges and reds of the leaves the season brings. And I’m lucky enough to live somewhere where we do not have to travel too far to be able to see the lovely changing of the leaves and revel in the fall weather.
The first place we went to check out the fall tour was Jim Thorpe, PA. Jim Thorpe is approximately two hour drive north of Philadelphia. As you drive up the Pennsylvania Turnpike you can see the leaves change from green to the more vibrant reds and oranges. The day we decided to stop happen to also be a weekend in which there was a large festival set up near the train station. The train still runs on the weekend, but due to the crowd we bypassed on a train trip this time around.
Even though we did not ride the train to see the foliage doesn’t mean we weren’t able to see the beauty of the changing of the seasons.
The town of Jim Thorpe is a quaint little town. There is several attractions you can visit right in town center – Asa Packer Mansion and Old Jail Museum. Asa Packer was a philanthropist, railroad magnate, and founder of Lehigh University. You can take a guided tour of his home, but check their website for days of operation. The days in which the mansion is open is depending on the season. I have toured this mansion a few summers ago and it was an interesting tour. I believe one of my favorite experiences in the mansion was hearing the glockenspiel in the clock. The Old Jail Museum is best known as the site of the hanging of seven Irish coal miners known as Molly Maguires in the 1800s. This museum is on my to do list on another visit to Jim Thorpe, unfortunately the jail is open only in the Summer and limited hours of operations in the fall. Again, highly suggest visiting the website for hours – learned the hard way when a friend and I were excited to visit the jail only to find the jail was closed for the season.
The next weekend we stopped at Washington Crossings Historic Park. The park itself is spread out and not confined to a few blocks long as one would think when they hear the work park. Washington Crossings is most famous for the launching point of General George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River to march on Trenton, NJ on Christmas 1776. Every Christmas morning there is reenactment of the crossing. If you are unable to make the reenactment on Christmas morning, there is a practice crossing a few weeks prior.
The day we visited the park our first stop was Bowman’s Hill Tower. This tower did not exist during General Washington’s stay at Valley Forge. This tower was built in 1929 to commemorate what may have been a lookout point for the troops. The top of the tower provide a 14 mile
view on a clear day. Just a note – at this time the elevator to the top of the tour is currently out of commission. If you would like to go to the top of the tower you will have to climb the steps. You will have to pay to go into the tower, but if you are planning on going into other sites within the park you can by a ticket that will give you entrance into the other properties.
Next we went to the main visitor center where the village is located. This is also the location of where the Christmas Day reenactment is held. The Village consists of six buildings that you can tour. The day we visit also happened to be a day they were holding an event. There were several reenacts, games, music, and vendors. The vendors sold everything from fragrant sachts that were made from herbs and flowers that were grown in the garden on the grounds.
There were also several local bakeries that were selling their sweets such as Sally Lund bread, ginger cakes, and shortbread cookies. There were also vendors selling period clothing and other wears. In addition you could go in and out of the buildings in the village.
While we strolled along the path we entered many of the building including Durham Boat Barn which the boats for reenactment are stored.
It was a beautiful fall day for a visit to the park.