Future Uncertain For Rail Related Tourism in Jim Thorpe

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JIM THORPE, CARBON COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Residents aren’t shying away from sharing their frustrations over their top tourist attraction no longer chugging down the tracks.

The train pulled out over a month ago over legal battles with the borough, leaving businesses who depend on tourist dollars to fend for themselves.

“It’s a good day to be out, but yeah it does seem a little bit empty,” said Randy Kreimoyer of Palmerton.

Benches are vacant and the tracks are clear in historic Jim Thorpe.

“It’s a big history of this town, the train,” business owner Melanie Tatasciore said.

The Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway moved out of Jim Thorpe before Christmas over a legal battle involving the borough, the school district, and the Reading and Northern Railroad.

“Both sides have reasonable objections and that compromise is necessary and hopefully they can do that the borough has since dropped the lawsuit,” Dan Hugo, former member of Jim Thorpe Tourism Agency and general manager of the Opera House, said.

But downtown businesses tell us they are hurting without the train as a main attraction.

“The train does bring a lot of people to town and for that reason, some kind of equitable solution needs to be worked out,” said Hugos.

The owner of the Bee Stung says she saw her sales drop over the past month.

“I talk to every person that enters my store, where are they from, are they just here on vacation, and 90 percent of them said they came to do the train,” Tatasciore said.

And now Tatasciore has to be the bearer of bad news to her customers.

“They were heartbroken. They were really upset and they thought it was going to devastate this town,” she said.

But for now, residents say they are waiting to see what happens in the new year whether or not the borough and railway can come to an agreement in the future and hoping heartbreak doesn’t last too long.

“I heard the last train take off. My heart just went to my stomach knowing that I might never hear it again,” Tatasciore said.

Now there is a Jim Thorpe Tourism Agency meeting set for tonight at 7 p.m. at the inn and many business owners told Eyewitness News they plan to be there. But for now there is no word yet if the train will make it’s way back to the station any time soon.

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