Reader Nominations for Coolest Small Towns

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Posted by Lysa Grant on Wednesday, January 20, 2010 8:12:06 PM
I know that Jim Thorpe is the coolest small town because every day I am taken back by the unique beauty of it. While there are some very unique shops and restaurants, the natural landscape and ruins of things that once were is what sets it apart from other places I have seen. At the Flow restaurant, which is also part art gallery, you can dine on exquisite fare worthy of a New Yorker's praise using locally grown produce. Oh, and where else can you sit next to a glassed in view of a babbling brook running directly under the restaurant? There are a variety of shops that appeal to both locals and visitors alike, however nowhere will you find a store like The Emporium Of Curious Goods. Owned and operated by a magician who also holds a PhD in comparative religion, there is something for everyone. Up until 1954, Jim Thorpe was know as Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk. The two towns merged and changed their name to Jim Thorpe after providing a memorial and burial tomb for the Olympian athlete who was declared the Greatest Athlete in the world by King Gustav V of Sweden. A visit to his grave is a humbling experience, especially for native americans. While many locals claim to have seen ghosts in certain hotels or restaurants, (including a Ghost Cat in the Emporium of Curious Goods), the most famous lore goes to the handprint in a jail cell at the Old Jail Museum. Legend has it that accused Irish coal miner, known as the a member of the Molly Maguires, Alexander Campbell, put his hand on the dirty floor of his cell and then placed it firmly on the wall proclaiming, " This handprint will remain as proof of my innocence." That handprint is visible today for every to view even though past wardens tried to eradicate it by washing it, painting it, and even taking down part of the wall and replastering it.

Posted by MRVChamber on Monday, January 18, 2010 1:22:21 PM
Mad River Valley, VT: (towns of Waitsfield, Warren, Fayston, Moretown with combined population of 6153): Four towns, four schools, four town offices, ONE community of FOUR towns best describes the Mad River Valley in Central Vermont. The Mad River Valley is defined by the rocky, clear, winding Mad River that flows north (often a source of intrigue). It is defined by blending its agricultural heritage with tourism. The Mad River Valley is home not only to Sugarbush and Mad River Glen Ski areas, it is home to unique recreation opportunities like glider soaring and Icelandic horse trail riding. It is along Vermont's 6000 mile network of snowmobile trails. The community embraces the arts and holds an annual Opera Festival for several weeks in early summer- unique in that one is invited to watch rehearsals at no charge. Final, fully orchestrated professional productions are affordable to all. The month-long Vermont Festival of the Arts in August provides over 100 arts-related events for all ages. The chamber of commerce has a resident cat—Yoda, with 27 toes—who has been greeting visitors for 12 years. In her official capacity as greeter, she raises money for the local Humane Society, at 5 cents a pat. Last year she raised over $200 for less fortunate animals. The Mad River Valley has taken many of its historic barns and converted them to homes, restaurants, theaters, wedding venues and public events spaces. This is another example of modern-day tourism blending with heritage. The Mad River Valley is home to exception dining, but notably, American Flatbread which has become a national wholesaler, and Green Cup Cafe top the list. Green Cup Cafe owner Jason, grows much of the food he prepares and serves. Nearly all of his menu items are locally grown and processed, certified organic and prepared with skill and respect. One of the two local shopping opportunities are a world apart in regard to style. First, there is Kenyon's Variety. You can buy everything from a horse halter to mud boots. If they don't have it, you really have to question if you need it. The other is the Warren Store. The Warren store is an old fashioned Vermont store where one can buy an incredible deli sandwich and eat it beside the brook or a fine bottle of wine. The upstairs features clothing and home decor items from around the world. The best part that no award or prize could possibly impact is the sense of community that defines our towns. No matter the situation or the person, if there is someone in need, this community of four towns magically finds a way to ease this person's or family's suffering. Benefit dinners, fund raisers, quiet contributions, church ladies, what-have-you will spring into action to come to the aid of a neighbor. That's why I love the Mad River Valley.

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