Jim Thorpe's popular old-time passenger trains derailed by tax dispute

Mark Abrams
November 26, 2019 - 7:59 am
Jim Thorpe, Pa., is now thriving on tourism, including hiking, biking and whitewater rafting.

Bill Streicher/USA TODAY NETWORK

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The nostalgic passenger train excursions from the scenic town of Jim Thorpe in upstate Pennsylvania have ended for now, but community officials say they've taken a big step in trying to resolve a dispute with the rail operator.

That step is pulling back a lawsuit demanding payment of some $100,000 in amusement taxes from Reading, Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad, the operator of the popular passenger trains.

"In talking with the railroad, we decided to lay the litigation aside," said, Greg Strubinger, Jim Thorpe borough council president and a a lifelong resident of the town.

The closed-door talks started after the railroad announced in October that it was ending its Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway runs on Nov. 25, complaining its trains should not be subject to the tax.

The railroad ran its last train out of Jim Thorpe over the weekend.

It's now planning to use rail stations in Pottsville, Minersville, Schuylkill Haven, Reading and Tunkhannock for its special Santa trains starting at the end of the month and running into December.

Strubinger says talks with the railroad operator are continuing behind the scenes to resume service in the new year.

"We want the railroad to stay. They want to stay. So, that being the case, we're very optimistic that we're going to come to a resolution that works for everyone," he said.

Strubinger wouldn't say what that might be, but he said Carbon County officials also may join the talks to bring the rail operator back.