The Leni Lenape were the first to visit and live among the wooded hills and valleys that now lie in eastern Pennsylvania. They called the area Pokawachne – “The Creek Between Two Hills” – in their native Munsee language, and from that, we now call it the Poconos.
In 1644, William Penn acquired the area as part of the land known as “Pennsylvania” or “Penn’s Woods” gifted to him by King Charles II to pay off debts owed to Penn’s father. William Penn was a Quaker and after being persecuted in England for his faith, he came to America and established Pennsylvania as a place where people could enjoy freedom of religion.
A little over 200 years later, it would, in fact, be Quakers who set up the first lodges in the Poconos – the Inn at Buck Hill Falls 1901 and Pocono Manor 1902. At first these hotels were really nothing more than religious retreats with no dancing or alcohol allowed. As time went on, however, the lodges would develop into lavish mountain resorts with panoramic views of the Pocono area.
Other resorts soon opened. The Buckwood Inn, built in 1911, would be the first resort with a golf course. Skytop Lodge opened in 1928, and in response to the Quaker resorts, offered alcohol and dancing in its basement bar. Tamiment was called the progressive version of a Borscht Belt lodge in the Catskills and popular among the single Jewish population. Unity House was an affordable getaway for America’s working class.
However, it was the close proximity to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and the 1945 opening of retired New York executive Rudolf Van Hoevenburg’s new concept of a honeymoon resort he called Farm on the Hill that would one day earn the Poconos the title “The Honeymoon Capitol of the World”. (Although, back then, instead of being pampered by staff, brides made the beds and grooms helped do the dishes and saw to the “manly” work around the rustic cabins.)
Nonetheless, by the 1960s, the Poconos were giving Niagara Falls a run for their money as a honeymoon destination with over 100,000 couples visiting each year. 1963 saw the debut of the heart-shaped tub at Morris Wilkins’ Cove Haven and soon would become ubiquitous at other Pocono resorts. In addition to heart-shaped Jacuzzis, the resorts would eventually offer whirlpool hot tubs in the shape of 7-foot tall champagne glasses, round beds, ceiling mirrors, and cozy in-room fireplaces. In addition, late night room service offered whipped cream, chocolate, and strawberries to top off the evening.
The late 1990s saw things start to change in the Poconos. The couples who once made the Poconos “The Honeymoon Capitol of the World” were now slowly abandoning the once-popular romantic getaway. The decline in revenue meant many places couldn’t afford the upkeep of their lodges. Some couldn’t even pay their back taxes which quickly started accumulating in the millions. And those that could afford to renovate and upgrade were met with archaic laws that prevented them from doing so. As a result, some of the lodges were simply abandoned. Many, however, are just as beautiful abandoned as they were when they were in the luxurious heyday, although perhaps now more hauntingly so.
The following are some of the places some of you might remember from your honeymoon or family road trips and vacations from your youth. Some are still around while others have faded into a distant memory of things that aren’t there anymore.
The Inn at Buck Hill Falls
As we mentioned before, the Quakers founded the Inn at Buck Hill Falls in 1901. In 1926, however, they expanded the little wooden hostelry into a larger stone building. Eventually, the Inn would grow to include 400 guest rooms, an indoor swimming pool with a retractable glass roof, and a dining room of white linen complete with live harpsichord music, and stone porch with views of the surrounding mountainside.
By 1990, due to several changes in ownership, financial troubles caused by cheaper airfares, and several fires caused the inn to close. After two men started three fires in the Inn’s Library, the main lobby, and a recreational building on the property, the damage was just too much and the Inn at Buck Hill Falls was demolished in 2016.
Although the Inn was demolished, Buck Hill Falls is still a year-round resort and home community featuring a 27-hole golf course with a clubhouse, a tennis center with ten Har-Tru courts, an Olympic-size outdoor pool, and championship lawn bowling greens.
The Inn at Pocono Manor
Pocono Manor was another of the original inns built by the Quakers. Often referred to as the “Grand Lady of the Mountains”, the resort offered panoramic views of the eastern and western Pocono region. It would later go on to boast a Donald Ross-designed golf course. Unfortunately, it also fell victim to a fire on November 2, 2019; however, according to their website, though the golf course was closed because of COVID19 most of 2020, they plan on reopening the course by the spring of 2021.
During her stay at Skytop Lodge in 1932 American novelist Faith Baldwin wrote: “Here are friendly mountains, round-breasted, smiling in the clear, rosy light of dawn.” Built in 1928, Skytop was the first resort in the Poconos to offer alcohol and dancing.
Today, the Skytop Lodge still touts its 30 miles of hiking trails as well as its “Dutch Colonial-inspired manor house” surrounded by 5,000 acres of wood, glacial bogs, hemlock gorges, beaver marshes, and cascading waterfalls.
The Buckwood Inn
When it opened in 1911, the Buckwood Inn featured the Poconos first golf course. Bandleader Fred “The Man Who Taught America How to Sing” Waring loved the Spanish colonial revival building and its Spanish tiled roofs so much he bought the place in 1943 and broadcast his shows from the resort he now called The Shawnee Inn.
It earned the label as the only resort on the banks of the Delaware River in the 1990s and today the resort offers modern amenities such as free WiFi, an indoor pool, and rooms equipped with plush bedding and private bathrooms. Activities include guided hikes, rafting and kayaking on the Delaware River, and 27 holes of golf on an island golf course.
In 1925, one of the most progressive unions in the country, the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU), bought Unity House a 655-acre retreat in the Poconos where immigrant garment workers took classes in English, literature and economics, and heard speeches on the role of women in the trade union movement. A new, 1,200-seat theater was constructed in 1956 for $750,000. Modeled after Radio City Music Hall, the theater included a 90-foot stage and the most modern lighting and sound equipment at the time.
Starting in the late 1960s, however, the resort entered a period of decline. On February 28, 1969, The Bushkill Resort administration building, along with with its famed Rivera murals went up in flames. A new, modern facility costing $4 million was built in 1972 in the hopes that it, along with the proposed creation of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and Tocks Island Dam would attract more people to the resort. It didn’t work and as more sewing jobs moved overseas and union members dwindled along with their dues. After attempts to open the resort to the public failed in 1985, the resort closed in 1990 and fell into decay afterwards.
Mount Airy Lodge
What started as an eight-room inn became the largest resort in the Poconos. Guests were lured to the 1,200 acre resort by its popular jingle “Beautiful Mount Airy Lodge” which was heavily advertised on radio and television from Boston to Washington, DC and everywhere in between. Guest at the lodge could also catch major headlining acts like Rodney Dangerfield, Tony Bennett, Connie Francis and Bob Hope.
Unfortunately, after years of financial turmoil, the Mount Airy Lodge closed its doors forever in 2001. The lodge was eventually razed and the new Mount Airy Casino Resort was built over top of where the lodge once stood.
Cove Haven Resorts
Finally, if you’re looking for a romantic getaway for Valentine’s Day that’s full of kitschy heart-shaped bathtubs or sharing amorous encounters with your significant other in a 7-foot tall cocktail glass, then the couples-only retreats of Cove Haven Resorts is your cup of tea (or glass of champagne, as it were). After all, it was at Cove Haven that Morris Wilkins invented the heart-shaped bathtub back in 1963; however, you don’t need a Hot Tub Time Machine to go back in time to the Poconos heyday when Cove Haven still reflects that quirky mid-century Poconos charm.
While you’re packing for your weekend full of kisses and kitschy-coos, don’t forget to pack some Stuckey’s to take along with you. Though it’s too late for delivery by Valentine’s Day, you can still grab the things you need from your local Stuckey’s to put together our special Valentine’s Day “Bless Your Heart!” gift box that includes something both of you will love:
1 Stuckey’s Logo Plush Bear,
5 Cinnamon Cube Pops,
1 – 16 oz. Pecan Praline,
1 – 2 oz. Stuckey’s Pecan Log Roll,
1 – 1.5 oz. Pecan Praline,
1 – 1.7 oz. Pecan Divinity Bar,
1 – 7 oz. Birthday Cake Popcorn,
1 “Bless Your Heart” Funny Button
If you do decide to visit the Poconos, you’ll want to stay extra warm while taking those romantic walks in the natural beauty of the Poconos this time of year and a Stuckey’s Wool Hat and one of our super soft and comfy “Since 1937” hoodies is just the right thing to keep you feeling warm and looking cool at the same time.
So, before you head to the Poconos or wherever you plan to go, visit our website today and find out how you can get Stuckey’s merchandise delivered to your door just in time for your next road trip. And don’t forget to add a Stuckey’s stop at any of our several Stuckey’s locations as part of your road trip itinerary.
Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!
Whether your next road trip is by car or by rail, it’s not really a road trip without taking Stuckey’s along. From our world famous Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls to our mouthwatering Hunkey Dorey, Stuckey’s has all the road trips snacks you’ll need to get you where you’re going.
For all of the pecany good treats and cool merch you’ll need for your next big road adventure, browse our online store now!
Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!