Foundations of America

QU201 Prof. Scott Leone

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Home Quinnipiac Tribal Place Names Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

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Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania 

Originally named Mauch Chunk, Jim Thorpe was a big coal mining area which helped fuel the country’s quick ascent into the Industrial Age. It was a well-known center of industry, commerce, tourism, and entertainment.  Mauch Chunk was well known by politicians, businessmen, and celebrities for its lovely views and charm. Today, this community is known as Jim Thorpe, in memory of one of our nation’s greatest athletes. This town has become a source of inspiration for the future based off of the past.

 In 1950, the nation's press selected Jim Thorpe as the most outstanding athlete of the first half of the 20th Century and in 1996-2001, he was awarded ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Century.

James Francis Thorpe, known by Jim Thorpe, is in many cases considered the greatest athlete of the 20th century. He was born on May 28, 1887 near Prague, Oklahoma to Hiram Thorpe, a farmer, and Mary James, a Pottawatomie Indian. Mary James is a descendant of the great Sauk and Fox chief Black Hawk who was a warrior and athlete as well. Thorpe’s Indian name, Wa-Tho-Huk means “Bright Path,” which he indeed had ahead of himself. Thorpe started school at Carlisle Industrial Indian School in Pennsylvania; where he began his career both playing football and running track. By the age 24, Thorpe was traveling with the American Olympic team around the world, where he smashed any competition that came his way. Unfortunately, it was discovered that Thorpe has participated in two seasons of semi-professional baseball, which are against Olympic rules. All of Thorpe’s gold metals were taken away. From there Thorpe continued with a professional baseball career, switching from teams like the Giants, Cincinnati Reds, and the Boston Braves.  He also got involved with playing in the NFL, where he played with six different teams throughout his career. Two monumental honors were bestowed unto Thorpe in 1950 when he was named "the greatest American football player" and the "greatest overall male athlete" by the Associated Press. Thorpe died March 28, 1953 of a heart attack, and his medals were finally restored to him and his name was placed back in the records book in 1982.


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