September 5, 2013

Jim Thorpe, Pa., fights to keep body of namesake

The surviving sons of the famous American Indian athlete have long fought to get the remains of their father moved to tribal lands in Oklahoma.

By Keith Collins and Michael Rubinkam / The Associated Press

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This is an undated photo of Jim Thorpe in a baseball uniform. Considered one of America's greatest athletes, he played professional baseball, 1913-1919, with the New York Giants, Cincinnati Reds, and Boston Braves. He played professional football between 1919 and 1926.


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Residents and business owners in Jim Thorpe, Pa., are helping to raise money for the town's legal case, saying they have honored, appreciated and respected a man long considered one of the 20th century's best athletes.

AP file photo

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The borough on the western edge of Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains is popular with tourists and frequently appears on lists of America's prettiest towns. But that is due largely to its vibrant main street, stunning mansions and location at the bottom of a steep gorge carved by the Lehigh River. Few come specifically to visit Thorpe's roadside memorial, and the town's economy certainly isn't dependent on its connection to the man.

But the psychological loss will be undeniable. The athlete who never set foot in the town named after him has become an important part of its identity. The high school's athletic teams are named, after all, the Olympians.

"Look, if it turns out that Jim Thorpe is going to be transported somewhere else, then let's accompany him and make it as graceful and honorable a transition as it could possibly be," said Dan Hugos, co-owner of the Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim Thorpe.

"And let's shake the hands of the new people who are going to be caring for him. But we will still continue to do our part to remember who he was and remember his name."

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Additional Photos

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The tomb of Jim Thorpe is shown in Jim Thorpe, Pa., in this January 2010 photo.



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