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

The Eerie Abandoned Resorts of the Poconos Mountains

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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.

History of the Pocono Mountain Resorts

Pennsylvania’s rise as a resort destination began generations ago. In the years after the Civil War, people 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.

Sign for the abandoned Penn Hills Resort in the Poconos

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 Jacuzzi bathtubs, 7-foot high champagne glass whirlpool hot tubs, in-room fireplaces, above-bed mirrors, round beds, late-night edible service (whip cream, chocolate and strawberries), and even private pools.

A few of these honeymoon resorts remain (namely the three Cove Haven Entertainment Properties of Cove Haven Resort, Paradise Stream Resort, and the Pocono Palace Resort). While these ‘love shacks’ or ‘love hotels’ 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 Poconos resorts

What Happened to the Poconos Resorts?

But in the late 1990s and early 2000s, things changed. Many of the old Poconos resort properties started going downhill. Single-family proprietors faced the mortality of the owners. Upkeep costs exceeded revenue from declining bookings. In some instances the owners were filled with hubris and didn’t think things could change.

In other instances, efforts to modernize were blocked by antiquated laws and a strong resistance from both the state and county governments to see the region succeed (arguably some of that had to do with shifting political demographics in the state). Newer resorts were built in the region and in neighboring states. And visitors began looking for something different and more contemporary.

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 abandoned Penn Hills Resort

A lot can be made of these old abandoned Pocono 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.

A cocktail lounge in one of the abandoned PA resorts
Abandoned cocktail lounge

Visiting the Poconos Honeymoon Resorts

On a bright September day, several 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. Now in their 60s, they had honeymooned at Penn Hills in the Poconos almost 40 years ago. Returning to the abandoned honeymoon resort of their past, the years of decay and decline did not diminish the importance of the place, or its beauty in their eyes.

They reminisced about steak dinners, rounds of golf, lounging by the pool, and even recalled the name of their favorite staff member: Julie. Seeing them, overhearing their conversation, and then briefly talking to them, my thinking changed. These abandoned Poconos hotels are not dinosaurs that are being forgotten by time, they are being honored as nostalgia tourism takes hold.

For couples who honeymooned here, the old Pocono resorts are an incredibly important part of their past, regardless of their present state. Yes, most of these once-majestic properties are now permanently gone (see below for update on each property). These visitors will continue to return to the mountains that were so important in their lives.

A round bed and mirrors in one of the Poconos love hotels
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 as I looked at an abandoned resort)
A gazebo at one of the abandoned resorts in Pennsylvania

The 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: 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. The land is supposed to be converted to open space, but will likely be redeveloped.

The Unity House Resort

Address: Falls Rd, Bushkill, PA 18324

Note: Please be aware that all the abandoned resorts in the Poconos are on private property. It is illegal to visit these resorts without the owner’s permission. Many of these abandoned resorts were once accessible via public roadways, so you can see part of them from public property.

The Old Poconos Honeymoon Hotels and Resorts

Over the years, couples have been coming to these mountains for their honeymoons in the Poconos. Here is an update on what happened to each of the Pocono resorts for couples.

The Buck Hill Falls Inn

The Inn at Buck Hill Falls traces its roots back to a Quaker settlement in 1900. The inn owned The Buck Hill Falls Company was built in 1901 by Quaker businessmen. By 1910, a pool and a golf club had been added. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, cottages and cabins had been added.

Unlike other resorts in the Poconos Mountains which faced a long decline, Buck Hill Falls remained active. Even today, the resort complex boasts beautiful cabins, a top golf course, lawn bowling and other social activities. While the complex remains active, the inn itself suffered due to neglect and was partially closed in 1990. In 2000, management allowed it to be used as a location for the MTV show Fear, which brought a host of gawkers and vandals to the property.

In July 2003, the building was severely damaged due to fire. The Inn at Buck Hill Falls, however, was demolished in the name of progress. Town residents raised the $2.5 million to have the historic structure demolished. The Buck Hill Inn demolition in 2017 brought an end to this once-great community.

Caesars Brookdale Resort on the Lake

Located on 250 acres of prime land in the Pocono Mountains and on a private lake, the Brookdale Resort was one of several operated by Caesars Entertainment (at the time owned by Starwood). In 2008, the property was closed permanently.

In September 2014, the property was sold to an out-of-state development company called Silverleaf Resorts. The company intended to operate the property as a timeshare destination called Brook Village at Caesars Brookdale. It is unclear what happened to the timeshare plan.

However, in 2017, a company called Brookdale Enterprises received approval to turn the resort into a 196-bed inpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation center called the Brookdale Treatment Resort.

Graffiti at one of the abandoned Poconos resorts

The Old Mount Airy Lodge

Once the granddaddy of Poconos Resorts, the old Mount Airy Lodge began with less than a dozen rooms back in 1898. The resort went through a complete reconstruction in the mid-1950s and then a massive expansion in the 1960s and 1970s. At its peak, the old Mount Airy Lodge had 895 rooms and spanned a massive 1200 acres in the hills of the Poconos Mountains.

Like the others, this resort began its decline and hit hard times in the 1980s when the owner refused to modernize. In November 1999, the resort went into foreclosure. Less than a year later, facing nearly $30 million in debt, the owner committed suicide rather than see his life’s work sold at auction.

A private equity company, Oaktree Capital Management, took over the resort in 2000 and the old Mount Airy Lodge was closed forever on October 29, 2001. The Mount Airy Lodge abandoned property was sold to new owners in 2004 and was ultimately demolished to make room for a new Poconos resort property: the new Mount Airy Casino Resort.

Penn Hills Resort

Opened in 1941 as a tavern, Penn Hills Resort would ultimately expand to include over 100 rooms, villas, and cabins. While other Pocono Mountain resorts continued to cater to the honeymoon and couples crowds, in its later years, Penn Hills Resort became frequent host to swinger parties and a location for alternative lifestyle encounters.

In 2009, the resort co-founder passed away at the age of 102 and the resort was closed. Between 2009 and 2012, the property was owned by Monroe County, which sold off several pieces of the 500-acre plot, including the golf course. In 2014, survivalist and accused murdered Eric Frein is believed to have used the abandoned Penn Hills Resort as one of his hideouts.

In January 2016, a new investment group took over the property and was making plans for some kind of redevelopment. On September 4, 2017, a fire raced through the main lodge building and it burnt to the group. It was the third fire at the abandoned resort in as many years. Some of the Penn Hills Resort buildings were demolished in 2017.

Vandalism and broken windows at an old hotel

Pocono Gardens Lodge

The Pocono Gardens Lodge was one of the most popular Poconos honeymoon resorts for decades. The Pocono Gardens Lodge history is a sad one. The resort was part of the old Mount Airy Lodge complex, but as a smaller property, it struggled earlier than others in the region. The Pocono Gardens Resort closed its doors forever in August 2000.

Vandals set fire to part of the resort in 2007, and the property was ultimately demolished to make room for the new Mount Airy Casino Resort.

Split Rock Lodge

The original Split Rock Lodge was built by Robert V White back in 1941. White also built the trails for the nearby Big Boulder Ski Resort, the first ski resort in the Poconos Mountains. Big Boulder ski resort opened in 1946. A new owner took over the property in 1967.

The lodge was completely destroyed by fire on August 23, 1970 and was rebuilt by local residents in 1971. In 1981, a new owner took over the property and the resort went through a massive expansion, including the addition of cabins, villas and the Town Center (with indoor swimming pool). The indoor water park at Split Rock opened in 2008. Split Rock Lodge still stands today. Read more about Split Rock Resort here.

Remains of a furniture sale at the Penn Hills Resort
Furniture sale at an abandoned resort

Strickland’s Mountain Inn and Cottages

Arguably on the most famous Poconos honeymoon hotels was the Strickland’s Mountain Inn and Cottages. Built from the shell of the old Elvin Inn, Strickland’s in the Poconos was opened on May 25, 1945. Strickland’s Pocono resort is no more.

The property was purchased by The Mountain Airy Lodge in 1983. The property was closed by the new owners in 2000. Together Mount Airy Lodge and Strickland’s were sold to a new owner in 2004. In 2007, the buildings on Strickland’s resort were demolished to make room for the new Mount Airy Casino Resort.

Unity House Resort

The Unity House Poconos Resort (sometimes called the White Pines Resort) has perhaps the most interesting history of all the Poconos Mountains Resorts. The 655 acre property was owned by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and operated as a kind of progressive utopia for about 70 years.

The decline of Unity House mirrors the decline of unions that backed it. Ultimately, the Unity House Resort closed forever around 1990. The property still exists and Unity House is one of the many abandoned resorts in the region.

A bed and couch in one of the old hotels
The remains of the Honeymoon Capital of the World

Legal disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational and historical purposes only. All abandoned resorts and buildings are private property. Trespassing on private property without written permission is illegal. We do not encourage or condone illegal behavior. Enjoy the article and treasure these abandoned resorts in your heart, but do not trespass!

57 thoughts on “The Eerie Abandoned Resorts of the Poconos Mountains”

  1. 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.

      1. Kutcher’s closed in 2013 and was demolished soon after to build something like a yoga lodge.

        Unfortunately, all of the big Catskill resorts have closed. My family owned The Sugar Maples until 1978. The last buildings were demolished a few years ago.

          1. Sugar Maples Resort in Maplecrest, NY is in the Catskills. Some of the buildings still exist. It is now the Sugar Maples Center for Creative Arts.

        1. I loved The Sugar Maples. Worked in the kitchen the summer of 1951 and stayed there as a guest in scattered years before and after through 1966 or so. Dick Vieth, Helen Martin and Grandma Moseman are some of the folks I remember.

    1. Lorri Lee Kamelhar

      Fascinating article!!Visiting Poconos in 60s and 70s as child and honeymooning at Cove Haven, Champagne Towers in 86 brings up all memories. What was resort on YouTube’s exploring with rick and bekah called the unknown abandoned Poconos resort you likely haven’t seen??

      1. Not sure if you’re referring to this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWdyG1B33fY of Penn Hills. We honeymooned there 45 years ago. Also whenever we needed a weekend away we visited the Poconos … Stricklands, Birchwood, Mount Airy, Cove Haven, Paradise Stream and others. We had the best time on our honeymoon at Penn Hills. Corny, yes … but fun!

      2. I’m just getting into exploration of old Poconos resorts or haunted cabin’s, can you please send me some information on places that are still there?

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

        1. 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.

  3. 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 🙂

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

    Cheers,

    Michael

    1. Amazing this site. Also the abandoned items left, so sad to see. I just found this page and are now hooked. Very interesting to read. Many thanks, Silke

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. I remember a Pocono resort vacation when l was a kid, about 55 years ago. All l remember about it is, the property had a silver missile on it, and a dinner bell would ring when it was dinner time. Anyone know the name of that resort. The missile memory is my best clue lol

    1. Don’t know about the dinner bell. But the only place I know of that has a Silver Missile (technically a rocket) is Knoebels Amusement Resort. It’s a slide. The ride is called Sky Slide and you can see a picture of it here: http://www.knoebelsfun.com/kids_rides.html
      That’s about the closest thing I know of in that part of the state.

  8. I was born and raised in the Poconos but left many years ago (early 1990’s), I really enjoyed your article, it brought back many memories for me and the pictures are eery but wonderful at the same time since my mind still sees these places how they used to be. Thank you for the memory 🙂

  9. I’ve visited Penn Hills, Unity House, Boiler Works, Birchwood, Buck Hill, and so many more abandoned playgrounds. I got to visit Buck Hill a month before they tore it down and I didn’t believe in ghosts until that visit. That place was soo haunted, it’s truly a shame they knocked it down. Could have made a fortune on haunted tours. I absolutely admire adventuring the abandoned Poconos!

  10. What happened to the Summit Resort in the Poconos?.We spent our honeymoon there
    in 1986,it was a great time we had there.We were thinking about revisiting until I went onto this website.

  11. I remember over 10 years ago staying at Chestnut Grove Resort (Mount Pocono) during the early spring/late fall with my wife ,and another couple. Us guys used to go trout fishing on Paradise Creek and there was an abandoned resort there. I can’t find any info on the place. I never really explored the property, but we walked thru it to get to the creek. It reminded my a little of “Dirty Dancing”, and I bet it was really hoping in the 60s and 70s.

  12. Any idea what happened to the Villa Roma in the Catskills? Went there as a youth for 4 straight years. Amazing time but sure it’s gone by now.

    1. It’s still there…kind of. We haven’t been, but it’s probably not the resort you remember from your youth. It was sold a couple of times in the 1970s. Once catering largely to Italian American families on the East Coast, their focus has shifted to Jewish American families from New York City and the tri-state area (although the resort itself is not kosher). As a result of the shift, a lot of the “Italian” influence has been toned down and a major fire to the old resort buildings in 2006 destroyed much of what was left of the old Villa Roma. These days, much of the resort is a large number of low- to mid-range timeshares for families that come back year after year. It is still open to this day.

  13. Eileen Kupniewski

    We spent many weekends at Birchwood Resort in Tannersville, PA during the 1990’s but we stopped going in 1999 as we started to see a decline. So Sad! We do still have a lot of great memories.

  14. My parents honeymooned at Strickland’s in 1957. They didn’t have reservations, when they stopped for gas and chatted with the attended he recommended it. The staff were waiting for them when they pulled in! No rooms were available. They were placed in what was the baker’s house. They had a memorable visit and everyone treated them royally.

  15. Barbara Baczmarga

    My husband and I stayed in the poconos 38 to 40 years ago. We loved fishing hidden lake ! We stayed at a place which I believe was winona lodge inn. There was a motel of some sort, and a few cabin like rooms. There was also a built in pool. I think it was on the same road to magic valley. A small place, but cozy. Do you know what ever happened to it? Thank you

    1. That could be one of two places. Lake Wynonah Lodge is still there, but that’s closer to Kutztown in Schuylkill County. The other is Winona Falls Lodge near Echo Lake (sometimes called “Winona Lodge Falls and Cabins”). Fueled by the arrival of the railroad in 1901, it’s glory days lasted until the railroad stopped in 1928 (according to the Middle Smithfield Township historical site). The Lodge probably carried on for several more decades, however, I don’t see any record of what actually happened to it. From what I can tell of the location, it looks like it was once on the grounds of what is now Pocono Mountain Villas by Exploria Resort – a budget timeshare outfit.

  16. My husband and I honeymooned at MERRY HILL LODGE in the poconos in 1959. Yes we are still married 60 years later. What happened to that lodge. It had a main lodge and several cabins. The wildlife was wonderful. I am looking for my picyurrd

    1. We don’t know. And our research didn’t turn up much. Merry Hill Lodge and Cottages in Cresco, PA was the subject of several lawsuits, in 1968 and again in 1972. The last known reference we could find to the lodge is from 1974.

  17. We spent our honeymoon at Penn Hills back in November 1969. We are just going some of the photos we took to share at our 50th anniversary. Looking back it seemed a bit cheesy but we had such a good time. It was fun to interact with all the newly married couples that probably spent their first nights together. It was always fun to see the couples that could not get the grin off their faces at breakfast. We were shy enough not to ask.

  18. I’m wondering if you know of a resort close by New Milford, Pa. Long gone now. What i saw when i was there i can only account for by an old resort having been there. Up Carey Rd, off of Sutton rd. Below on flat area could have been site of horse stables, which all old resorts had, very vancy ones too, like at Buck Hill Falls. This location further north, a trail went up from where i imagine the stables would have been, the trail went up the hill, and up behind, crossed small stream on a covered bridge. I saw this bridge myself, definitly in 1984 and possibly another time in 1946. Do you know of any of this? A resort with a covered bridge, possibly two, one being on Mylert Ck down by the stables, and another over the hill in kind of a gulf between hills? New Milford, Pa, which is between Scranton Pa and Binghamton, NY. Endless Mts, not far from Poconos.

    1. No idea about the resort. But there’s still an old covered bridge there almost exactly where you describe it on the Mylert Creek. To save the bridge, it’s been moved about 40 feet from the stream bed (so it doesn’t actually cross the creek anymore), but the bridge is still there. But it’s not located at a resort, it’s at the Old Mill Village Museum.

      1. Thank you for responding to my query. The covered bridge is LC Beavans, moved there from Cannonsville, NY. But that is not the covered bridge i mean. I saw a small footbridge on a trail on hill behind Old Mill Village. On top of the hill behind it was some kind of resort or sanitarium that was demolished around 1945-46. We visited that location in 1946. The horse stables were still standing then. The trail with the little covered bridge connected the (resort) with the stables. The building on the hill had been a sanitorium, i know this from a lady talking with my mother in 1946. I was a kid then and wasn’t paying much attention so i don’t know what the sanitorium was meant for. She told my mother but i didn’t get it. So i know there was a sanitorium on that hill,, and i believe it was a resort before then. Or why the ornate horse barn and cb? The view from atop that hill is wonderful, where the building wouldhave been. Sure would like to learn more about this. I know a covered bridge existed and an ornate horse stable. Building had been destroyed.

  19. Hello Lance! Thanks for this interesting story. When did you originally write this piece and do this research? I work in non-profit and sustainable agriculture and am interested in the area. I am going to visit tomorrow. Thanks for any insight and feel free to PM me.

    1. We’ve visited the Poconos several times during the early 2000s – always knowing we wanted to write this story. We finally wrote and published this article in its original form in November 2015. The article has since been updated 4 different times over the last few years with more information, mostly as the some of the resorts were demolished.

    1. Vacation Valley was sold in 1976 to Ceasers. Vacation Valley on Echo Lake became part of the Caesers Pocono Palace, which is still there (although currently called Cove Haven Pocono Palace).

  20. My wife, whom I just lost 3 months ago spent our honeymoon in September 1961 at Stricklands. It was a great week, nice cabin, pools, entertainment and delicious food. Outstanding service and numerous activities all week. The entire cost for the week was only $106.00 including tax. Unbelievable. Great memories.

    1. Sorry for your loss Jim. It’s amazing to hear about the resort prices at some of these places back in the day.

  21. My wife and I spent our honeymoon at The Summit in Tannersville Valentine’s Day week 1981. It was a wonderful week and it is very cool seeing some of other folks stories about some of the areas honeymoon lodges back in the day. The actual price at the time was roughly $300.00 per night, which I guess was kind of high for the time, but we had the best unit with the in room pool, etc. As a matter of fact, I carried the wife across the threshold upon entry, promptly put her in the pool, and jumped in after her. She knew I was crazy right off of the bat. Still going strong almost 40 years later.

  22. HENRY T. PAISTE, III

    Just looking around for some information ref the resort known as BUCK HILL FALLS- where the INN was finally taken down – and yet the Resort seems to thrive- THANKS BE TO GOD ! The Pool is there, the GOLF is there. The TENNIS is there – along with the LAWN BOWLING and more – The RESORT is in
    business – just without the INN — I WONDER – if – someday – somebody will build a NEW version
    of THE INN AT BUCK HILL FALLS – a nice – FAMILY PLACE TO GO…?
    Respectfully
    HENRY T. PAISTE, III
    (THIRD GENERATION – BUCK HILL ]

    1. Technically, Buck Hill Falls is not a resort anymore. It’s a private, members-only community (where they do allow some short-term visitors), but it’s not open to the public.

  23. In Season 2 of the Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt show there is an episode where they go to an abandoned Pocono Resort. Do you have any idea which resort they used?

    1. It was Season 2, episode 8. I believe they actually used a TV set and it was not filmed on location. However, the Penn Hills Resort seems to be have been the inspiration for it (with the mirrors, round beds, and heart-shaped bathtubs).

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