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The Abandoned Resorts of the Poconos

The Penn Hills Resort is one of the abandoned resorts of the Poconos.

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.

A bed in one of the abandoned resorts of the Poconos - Honeymoon Capital of the World.

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 Penn Hills Resort, one  of the abandoned resorts in the Poconos Mountains.

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.

A fireplace in one of the abandoned resorts of Pennsylvania.

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.

The outdoor pool at the Penn Hills Resort.

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.

A cocktail lounge in one of the abandoned PA resorts.

Abandoned cocktail lounge

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.

Many of the old Poconos resorts had round beds with columns under mirrors.

A romantic round bed

“You think kids want to come with their parents and take fox-trot lessons? Trips to Europe, that’s what the kids want. Twenty-two countries in three days. It feels like it’s all slipping away.” – Quote from the movie Dirty Dancing (I was reminded of this quote as I looked out at one of the abandoned resorts)

A gazebo at one of the abandoned resorts in Pennsylvania.

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.

Unity House
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.

Graffiti at an abandoned resort.

Broken windows at an abandoned resort.

All the furniture was gathered together for sale at the Penn Hills Resort.

Furniture sale






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What do you think about The Abandoned Resorts of the Poconos?

  1. Alex December 3, 2015 at 12:08 am #

    As always a pleasure to read. It’s a beautiful old building. I grew up in southern Connecticut. I remember when there was still an exodus in the summers to the Poconos for vacations and camp. Nice to be reminded.

  2. Kim A. Hazel December 8, 2015 at 9:57 pm #

    This is a completely unique spin on what is beautiful about travel. Well done!
    Kim A. Hazel recently posted…Planes, Trains, and Vehicles: Getting Around Europe (Part 3)My Profile

  3. Countrygirl December 11, 2015 at 11:58 pm #

    I have been living in this area for 14 years, right near these Resorts. It’s a shame how they all went downhill…There was Mt Airy which has been rebuilt, Stricklands, Penn Hills, Pocono Gardens, to name a few. I used to work in the OLD Mt Airy Gift shop. There are a few more that are still up and running tho. Ceasars, and Brookside I believe is still open, but it was closed for some time.

    • Lance Longwell December 12, 2015 at 11:49 am #

      Thanks for replying. You’re right, there are certainly others. One day, I think other resorts will get a new lease on life. Mt Airy was re-born as a casino. I think The Inn at Buck Hill Falls has potential as a corporate retreat center. Penn Hills has potential as either a high-end spa destination (like The Lodge at Woodloch) or a family adventure camp (zip lines, ATVs, etc.). These would require significant investments.

      • Frank June 12, 2016 at 3:46 pm #

        What ever happened to Hidden Valley Resort from the 60’s

        • Lance Longwell June 12, 2016 at 8:54 pm #

          That’s a good question, I don’t know. There’s still a Hidden Valley Resort, but I don’t know what happened to the old building.

  4. Astarr January 12, 2016 at 10:31 am #

    I worked at Penn Hills in the early 2000’s in the gift shop and office. It’s sad to see it so dilapidated, but I’m not shocked. I worked with some nice people, but the elderly owner did not want to change or update anything s d didn’t want to invest in fixing or upgrading the grounds. It was a fun place to work though 🙂

  5. James April 15, 2016 at 5:57 am #

    As always a pleasure to read. It’s a beautiful old building. I grew up in southern Connecticut. I remember when there was still an exodus in the summers to the Poconos for vacations and camp. Nice to be reminded.

  6. Michael May 7, 2016 at 9:11 am #

    Love these stories about abandoned places. It’s incredible how many of the furniture and fixtures were left behind.

    Cheers,

    Michael
    Michael recently posted…Driving the Loneliest Road in AmericaMy Profile

  7. Carla July 14, 2016 at 8:08 pm #

    How does someone obtain permission to go onto the property? Who is the contact person?

    • Lance Longwell July 22, 2016 at 10:32 am #

      Unknown. And the ownership seems disputed from articles in the media.

  8. Richard O'Connor October 3, 2016 at 3:28 pm #

    Travel by car all over Nrth America and tend to take “the road less traveled” as that is the way to SEE things. Visited/explored many forgotten places. Abandon places have held a facination for me since childhood. On more than one occation got into trouble for my “visits”. Love to here the stories behind them.

  9. Bill Murray February 17, 2017 at 11:41 pm #

    1946 Honeymoon stay was at SPLIT ROCK LODGE. Do you know if it still exists. I was hoping it might be mentioned in your article. Thanks for any info you might have.

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