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   BRIGADOON ON THE LEHIGH
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CHRIS POH


Jim Thorpe Roof tops as seen in American Public Houser Review



A low hung battleship grey sky, the last bit of orange and yellow clinging to the mostly naked frames of oak and maple, a gentle rain on a raw November morning - this is my kind of day! I’m heading northwest on Route 248 through the quiet desolation of Pennsylvania coal country. I pass stretches of abandoned track where once an endless stream of railcars carried the black rock to the furnaces that fired the juggernaut of American industry.

abandoned tracks as seen in American Public House Review
Deisel engine as seen in American Public House Review

There is a haunting beauty to this barren landscape. It reminds me of the mountains around Virginia City, Nevada; mostly devoid of trees because of the need for timber to shore up the shafts of the silver mines during the heady and reckless days of the Comstock Lode.



Jim Thorpe as sen in American Public House Review




JT's as seen in American Public House Review
JT'S ALL AMERICAN STEAK AND ALE HOUSE


I suspect my wife is beginning to question my rationale for this weekend road trip. As we pass through towns that are still exhibiting the effects of industrial downturn I also begin to question my judgment. A couple of miles beyond the town of Lehighton we begin our descent into what once was the wealthiest town in America. The contrasts with the other communities that have dotted our journey’s path are startling. The now dormant ribbons of steel to the east give way to an operating classic diesel locomotive waiting to pull its vintage coaches north along the river to Glen Onoko. Here peacefully nestled between the mountains above the Lehigh Gorge is a rich stock of preserved and restored 19th century Federalist, Romanesque Revival, Second Empire and Queen Anne homes, mansions and commercial buildings. There is definitely a Brigadoon quality to this place.

The precipitation and personal predispositions cause Fran and I to seek shelter. We discover a delightful haven inside JT’s All-American Steak and Ale House located at the Hotel Switzerland. We settle in for an afternoon of pints, pleasantries and Penn State football. Our affable bartender answers inquires about the town with such detail that by the time Paterno’s Nittany Lions have left the field I am somewhat versed in the history and lore of Olde Mauch Chunk.



The Bar at JT's as seen in American Public House Review

THE CLASSY BAR AT JT's



Sensing my zeal and enthusiasm, our host recommends that we do our best to return in March for their Saint Patrick’s Day parade, claiming that there is no finer celebration of the Irish tradition anywhere in America. He regales us with stories of Hibernians, house parties and hangings; but what really sparks my interest is the tale of “The Shot Lady.”

According to the bartender, the owner of a bed and breakfast along the route of the parade had begun a tradition of handing out shots of whiskey to those interested adult participants parading down Broadway. Entire pipe bands were known to pause for a dram or two.

For more on the JIM THORPE St Patrick's Day Parade and the celebrated 'Shot Lady,'
check out the article in this month's issue of AMERICAN PUBLIC HOUSE REVIEW entitled,
'A SHOT FOR A VOLLEY'

I have seen many strange and wonderful things over the years while viewing Irish convention. I’ve raised many a glass at wakes, and I’ve stood alongside His Eminence Cardinal Cooke as he blessed the multitudes marching up Fifth Avenue as they passed St. Patrick’s Cathedral; but never had I witnessed a gesture on such a grand and generous scale. I vowed that we would return for the revelry.

I was cautioned that it was unlikely at this late date that we would be able to secure overnight accommodations. After countless telephone responses of “sorry you need to book at least one year in advance,” I spoke with Sheila O’Neil who, along with her partner Bob, owns the Gilded Cupid. She informed me that it was her intention not to rent out rooms that weekend because her family was coming up for the parade. After a bit of kibitzing and mutual connecting she decided to make a few rooms available.

On a brisk Saturday morning near winter’s end Fran and I, along with our friends John and Nancy arrive in Jim Thorpe. We stop for food and drink at Molly Maguire’s Pub. As is usually the case, I strike up a conversation with some charitable stranger at the bar. In this instance that stranger turns out to be Sheila’s partner Bob. After a couple of welcoming pints of Murphy’s Irish Amber he directs us to their residence uptown.

By early afternoon we are settled into our rooms. Sheila has provided us with a thorough lay of the land and some personal coaching on how to survive and flourish during Sunday’s parade. At some point during the tutorial she asks if John and I might be available to assist with a small chore in the morning. Consent turns to elation when I realize that the task requires pouring several hundred shots of whiskey!

I head down to JT’s to herald our return and to toast our bartender!



another view of JT's as seen in American Public House Review




JT'S ALL-AMERICAN STEAK & ALE HOUSE
at the HOTEL SWITZERLAND


5 Hazard Square
Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania 18229
(570) 325-4563

www.jimthorpedining.com


                                                                                                                                  Adverisement        

troegs logo

HopBack Amber Ale



Our Flagship beer is
a hoppy, amber ale
with a fresh, spicy taste
and a rich caramel note.



www.troegs.com
HopBack Amber Ale as seen in American Public House Review

GLASSES RAISED                                         SPIRITS LIFTED                                         JOURNEYS SHARED
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