In the rolling hills of Eastern Pennsylvania, the story of modern love has been written over and over again. For nearly two decades, the resorts nestled in the Poconos Mountains made this region the “Honeymoon Capital of the World.” Today, it is a landscape dotted with abandoned resorts.
Pennsylvania’s rise as a resort destination began generations ago. In the years after the Civil War, travelers would travel by train from New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington, D.C. to experience the rugged wilderness in Pennsylvania. Resorts popped up along the Delaware River and in the mountains to the west.
The Poconos proximity to East Coast population centers made it perfect for honeymoons. And in the years after World War II, the region exploded. In the early 1960’s, romance was taken to new levels with couples-only resorts that featured heart-shaped hot tubs, in-room fireplaces, above-bed mirrors, and even private pools. A few of these resorts still remain. While these ‘love shacks’ provided an obvious opportunity to leave ones bodily fluids behind in rooms of questionable cleanliness, these amenities proved alluring for many. And the “Honeymoon Capital of the World” was born.
But in the late 1990s and early 2000s, things changed. Many of the old resorts started going downhill. Single-family proprietors faced the mortality of the owners. Upkeep costs exceeded revenue from declining bookings. Newer resorts were built in the region and areas nearby. And visitors began looking for something different. There are still many resorts in the Poconos that draw big crowds, but they are different now. There’s a lavish spa destination that caters to the affluent as well as a number of indoor water park resorts geared to families. But the abandoned resorts of the Poconos Mountains are truly a sight to behold. There are pictures all over the Internet of them and from the first time I saw the photos, I knew this was a place with a story.
A lot can be made of these old abandoned resorts. There’s the metaphor of how these crumbling resorts represent how the majority of marriages now end in divorce – a visual representation of the human turmoil. There are also lessons about change – sometimes you need extinction to evolve. But there are also lessons about nostalgia and attachment to the past.
There is a sentimentality about these places. We love the thrill of the new, yet draw comfort from the familiarity of the past. On a bright September day, six years after the Penn Hills Resort closed and began to be swallowed up by the forest, a couple showed up by the side of the highway to see what had become of the place. They had honeymooned here almost 40 years ago. The years of decay and decline did not diminish the importance of the place, or its beauty in their eyes. At that moment, my thinking changed. These abandoned resorts are not dinosaurs that are being forgotten by time, they are being honored as nostalgia tourism takes hold.
The Abandoned Resorts in the Poconos Mountains
Penn Hills Resort
Address: Analomink Road, Rtes. 191 and 447, Analomink, PA 18320
Note: The Penn Hills Resort actually straddles a State Highway, so it can be viewed from the roadway.
The Inn at Buck Hill Falls
Address: Lenape Lane & 35 Falls Drive, Mountainhome, PA 18342
Note: The Inn at Buck Hill Falls towers over Lenape Lane (just off Golf Drive), but the Inn can be seen from the road. Since being featured in the MTV show Fear, trespassing has become a significant problem and a private security firm is employed to keep people off the property.
Update as of February 2017: In January 2017, demolition of the Inn at Buck Hill Falls began. The local community raised over $2.5 million to have the historic structure demolished. Once demolition has been completed, the land is supposed to be converted to open space, but will likely be redeveloped.
Address: Falls Rd, Bushkill, PA 18324
Note: Please be aware that all the abandoned resorts are on private property. It is illegal to visit these resorts without the owner’s permission.