Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Lausanne

Posted by Stu On May - 8 - 2013

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Photos taken June ‘12 via camera & camera phone, hence different photo sizes

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Another find via geocaching.  Seriously, if you’ve never geocached, get a GPS or smartphone and go play already.

I was surprised to read that a ghost town was only 20 minutes or so from me.  Lausanne, near present-day Jim Thorpe, has very little written about it, and not all that much remains.  The little I know has come from a geocaching description and talking to a group of anthropologists (more on that later).

With almost no knowledge and armed only with a camera, phone, and GPS, I set out early in the morning to the first set of coordinates.  I knew the trek would be a few miles (how many exactly, I forget now) and that I was being led to a few different locations.  This corridor of green was a promising start to the expedition:

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I had read that there would be the remains of an old toll bridge somewhere along the trail.  I crossed water three times on the way to the first destination, but I wasn’t sure just where the bridge was supposed to have been.  The first crossing had an actual bridge, one of the more unusual ones I’ve seen:

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The second crossing had some old planks and pipes in the water, but seeing that this was barely a stream and I stepped over it without getting my shoes wet, I highly doubt there was a toll bridge here:

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Yet another crossing led to a somewhat larger stream with a rock wall nearby.  Maybe the bridge was here.

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After getting lost once and crossing three streams (or the same stream three times) I finally came to the first goal of my tour of Lausanne – several foundations of either houses or storage buildings (as per one of the anthropologists I spoke with):

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I roamed among the ruins of the homes/storage buildings for a little bit and then entered a second set of coordinates that would take me somewhat back the way I just came from, but past my starting point.  But first there was one more water crossing, this time over a type of bridge I had never seen before.  And this time it was the actual Lehigh River, not some piddle of a stream.

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Yep, this “bridge” was just two cables going across the river.  I was about to cross when I noticed someone coming from the other side.  And then someone else.  And then another.  About a dozen people came across the bridge and looked rather confused with me being there.

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One talked to me and I explained I was ghost town hunting/geocaching.  They told me they were anthropologists from Temple University and had an excavation site not too far away.  I asked if they knew about Lausanne at all, and one said he did.  He was the one that said the houses I just came from may have instead been used for storage.  We talked a little longer, and then I decided it was time to make my way across the cable bridge and finish up my exploration of Lausanne.

I finally made it to the old town square; a hotel and post office once stood at the site.

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I roamed the area for a little bit; a lot of it was quite overgrown.  I then made my way back to the car, which was not that far away from the town square.  All in all, this was a fun little adventure.  Being guided to different areas by GPS coordinates and having to cross the cable bridge really made this outing stand out.

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Popularity: 23% [?]

Grave of Beth Doe

Posted by Stu On August - 12 - 2010

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Who is Beth Doe?  This question has remained unanswered since December of 1976, when a woman’s body, cut up and stuffed into 3 suitcases, was tossed from a bridge along Route 80 near White Haven.  There was no identification on her.  There were no leads.  Nobody ever reported anyone as missing.  She was labeled as Beth Doe, and she and her baby (she was pregnant at the time of her murder) were buried in a potter’s field in Weatherly.

To this day, nobody has any idea who she was.  In 2007, Doe’s body was exhumed to see if modern technology could help identify her.  A few possible leads arose, but her identity remains a mystery.

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Directly behind Beth is a Baby Jane Doe:

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Popularity: 15% [?]

Glen Onoko “Turn Hole” Tunnel

Posted by Stu On April - 16 - 2010

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This was an added bonus to an already scenic hike.  This tunnel can be found along the trail in the Glen Onoko section of Lehigh Gorge State Park.  It’s not very long, maybe a few hundred feet in length.  The Central Railroad of New Jersey constructed it in the 1870’s.  The tunnel was used until the 1950’s, when this portion of the track was abandoned.

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Tunnel entrance from trail.

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Trains definitely couldn’t pass through here now.

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The railroad ties are still in place.

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What’s left of the bridge leading to the tunnel.

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Popularity: 25% [?]

The Old Jail Museum

Posted by Stu On November - 6 - 2009

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The Old Jail Museum in Jim Thorpe is almost like any other old restored prison museum I’ve been to.  Almost.

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Sure it’s got its display of artifacts from when the jail was in use.  Sure it’s got cells you can enter.  And it’s even got a solitary confinement area, aka “The Dungeon,” which you can wander.  However, it also has, according to local legend, proof of supernatural activity.  Right up on one of the cell walls.

4 of the Molly Maguires (an organization among Irish immigrants sometimes equated to a mafia) were accused of murdering a higher-up of the coal company for which they worked.  Long story short, the trial, jury, and judge were all very biased.  The men were never proven to have committed the murder.  They were found guilty anyway and hanged right in the prison.  Before the execution, one of the Irishmen is said to have placed his hand on the prison wall and said something along the lines of “my handprint will remain here to prove my innocence.”

And the handprint is still there.  Allegedly it has been painted over, ripped down, and knocked out of the wall.  And it always comes back.

Unfortunately, the prison loves their handprint.  And nobody is allowed to take a photo of it.  Not even yours truly.  I did, however, get access to sections of the jail that are usually off limits to tours, like the upstairs cell block.

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The tour begins in the prison’s cell block.  A replica gallows is also in the room.  The handprint cell is also in this room.  After an introduction and brief history, visitors are led around to view the cells and can even enter a few.  The handprint cell can be looked into by one person at a time, but expect a museum employee to be watching over your shoulder making sure you’re not trying to sneak in a pic of that handprint.
If you want a picture of the handprint that badly, you can buy a photo for 50 cents in the gift shop anyway.

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After poking around the cells for a bit, we were led upstairs to where the women’s cells are located.  Before heading there though, I stayed behind and checked out the upstairs section of the cell block first, again not part of the regular tour.  But I’m special so I was allowed to go.

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The women’s cellblock, no bigger than a larger room, is only a handful of cells upstairs on the opposite end of the jail.  They reminded me more of cages than prison cells.  I mean look at the “bars.”

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Finally, we headed down to the basement, where the solitary confinement cells are located.  It was dimly lit, as it was back when the prison was in use.

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Popularity: 21% [?]

Jim Thorpe Memorial

Posted by Stu On April - 15 - 2009

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I often looked at maps and wondered why there was a town named Jim Thorpe and just who the guy was. Now that I live only about 20 minutes away from the town, I decided to find out.
Turns out Jim Thorpe was a very prominent athlete in the early part of the 20th century, so prominent that Sweden’s King Gustav V said to Mr. Thorpe at the 1912 Summer Olympics, “You, sir, are the greatest athlete in the world.”

Jim Thorpe died in 1953. Also during this time, the town of Mauch Chunk, PA, was struggling to attract tourists. A deal was struck between the town and Thorpe’s widow. Jim’s remains were moved to Mauch Chunk and a memorial was built for him. In addition, Mauch Chunk was renamed to Jim Thorpe.
There has been controversy over the years because some of his descendants and his home state, Oklahoma, want his remains sent back home.

Jim Thorpe (the man) had an impressive athletic career involving numerous sports, Olympic titles, controversy, and stripping of said titles, among other things. I’m not going to get into all of that here; look it up if you’re interested. Let’s get on to the memorial.

The area of Jim Thorpe’s memorial is decent-sized, but it looks neglected. Some of the signs are showing wear, and I don’t know how popular the spot was in the past, but I’ve driven by it numerous times since my initial visit and have only ever seen one other person there. Jim’s grave is in the middle, and to its sides are a statue of him and many signs telling his history and achievements.

I’m not sure just how effective it’s been as a tourist attraction (from the looks of it not much), but it’s still a quirky roadside attraction.

Popularity: 18% [?]

Grave of Aquila Henning

Posted by Stu On September - 27 - 2008

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Located in Albrightsville, PA, is one of the more unusual graves I’ve come across, and I’ve seen some interesting stuff – full size Mercedes replicas, graves with windows, etc. This stone actually tells a story, or at least one version of it. Pictured on the stone is Mr. Henning with a hunting rifle. Hidden in the bushes behind him are several men, who according to his side of the tale, ambushed and killed him. The stone does not have “died” next to his death date; “shot” is the word of choice. Also worth noting is that the illustration faces away from the road, so you have to walk around the grave to see it. From the road it just looks like a big headstone.

Nobody is sure what really happened that day. The only thing that is definitely known is that Robert Wilkinson shot and killed Aquila (the Hennings and Wilkinsons had somewhat of a family feud going on). Supposedly Aquila shot one of his rival Harry Wilkinson’s hunting dogs, and the mob killed him for it. Another variation claims the mob just plain shot him; he didn’t kill any of their dogs. Still another claims that Aquila was aiming his gun at Harry, and Robert felt he had no choice but to shoot him to save his brother’s life.

Whatever the case, this is an interesting sight to see. Mr. Wilkinson actually sued the makers of the tombstone because he felt its depiction of Aquila as an innocent was a flatout lie.

Popularity: 9% [?]

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