The Eerie Abandoned Resorts of the Poconos Mountains

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The Eerie Abandoned Resorts of the Poconos Mountains

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.

Cool abandoned places in PA:  A bed in one of the abandoned resorts of the Poconos - Honeymoon Capital of the World.

The Rise 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.

The abandoned Penn Hills Resort Poconos:  Penn Hills Resort is 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 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 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 resorts of Pennsylvania.  The Poconos honeymoon resort business went into decline beginning in the 1980s, leading to many old resorts in the Poconos being abandoned when debts piled up.  There are still several abandoned resorts for sale in Northeast Pennsylvania.

What happened to the Poconos Resorts?

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. 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.

Resorts Poconos Photos: The outdoor pool at the 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

A Return to 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.

Love Hotel Poconos Mountains: Many of the old Poconos resorts had round beds with columns under mirrors. This was once one of the many resorts in Poconos for couples.

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 an old abandoned Poconos resort)

A gazebo at one of the abandoned resorts in Pennsylvania.

The Abandoned Resorts in the Poconos Mountains

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 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.
Update as of July 2017: The Buck Hill Inn was demolished, leaving a mountain of debris to be cleared.

The Unity House Resort

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. Many of these resorts were once accessible via public roadways, so you can see part of them from public property.

What Happened to the 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. This was once one of the Poconos honeymoon suites hotels.

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 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. As of December 2017, some of the Penn Hills Resort buildings were being demolished. It is unclear how many buildings still exist on the property.

Broken windows at a Poconos abandoned resort. The hotels and resorts in Poconos Mountains PA make some of the weirdest abandoned places in Pennsylvania.

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.

All the furniture was gathered together as the the Penn Hills Resort sold off its assets. When it comes to abandoned places in NEPA (Northeast Pennsylvania), the Pocono honeymoon hotels are some of the  creepiest.

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 back it. Ultimately, the Unity House Resort closed forever around 1990. As of 2018, Unity House is an abandoned resort.

Legal disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational and historical purposes only. All 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 resorts in your heart, but do not trespass! Note: Some links may be affiliate links, which means Travel Addicts may earn a few pennies if you buy something.

The Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania used to bill itself as the

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

  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.

    • Jane August 3, 2018 at 5:26 pm #

      What happened to Kutchers Resort in up state NY (Catskills)?

  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!

  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. 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

    • Silke March 17, 2017 at 1:14 pm #

      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

  6. 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 about the current situation. The ownership seems disputed from articles in the media.

      • carla March 17, 2017 at 9:52 pm #

        Are there any photo tours in there?

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Doug W. August 7, 2017 at 2:20 am #

    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

    • Lance Longwell August 7, 2017 at 1:11 pm #

      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.

  10. Jenn K June 4, 2018 at 11:35 am #

    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 🙂

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