Monday, October 10, 2016

Jim Thorpe Memorial

During our adventures in Pennsylvania in the last week of September, we ran across a memorial to Jim Thorpe.

Part of the Jim Thorpe Memorial.

Jim Thorpe (1887-1953) was an American athlete who achieved fame in the 1912 Olympics, where he received gold medals in the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon. He also played football (collegiate and professional), and professional baseball and basketball. He lost his Olympic titles because later it was learned that he had been paid for playing two seasons of semi-professional baseball before competing in the Olympics. This violated rules in place then.

In 1983, 30 years after his death, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) restored his Olympic medals.

Hubby reading the memorial information.

Interestingly, Thorpe grew up in Oklahoma. He was a member of the Sac and Fox Nation and thus of Native American heritage. He was the first Native American to medal in the Olympics.

He was also the first president of what eventually would become the National Football League.

Jim Thorpe with a football.
An ABC Sports poll called Thorpe the greatest American athlete ever, beating out others like Ali and Michael Jackson.

Thorpe died in California. He never lived in Pennsylvania. He ended up buried in Pennsylvania allegedly because his third wife "stole" his body as it lay in state. Apparently, she heard that the small Pennsylvania towns of Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk  (now called Jim Thorpe) were seeking to attract business. She made a deal with officials which, according to Thorpe's son Jack, was done for monetary considerations. Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk bought Thorpe's remains, erected a monument to him, merged, and renamed the newly united town in his honor, even though Thorpe had never been there.

The monument site contains his tomb, two statues of him in athletic poses, and historical markers describing his life story.

Thorpe's burial monument.

Thorpe's son, Jack, in 2010 attempted to have his father's remains relocated to Oklahoma, but in 2014 a U.S. Appeals Court ultimately ruled that the remains should stay where they are, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear another appeal, which ended the matter.

Facts about Jim Thorpe.
Jim Thorpe with a discus.
Thorpe's memorial.
Hubby reading more information.
Full picture of one of Thorpe's statues.


  1. He was a tremendous athlete. Sad that there was such trouble with his burial.


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