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Pocono Mountains History

About PM - Pocono Mountains History - Spring/Summer 2014

Early Days: The First Inhabitants

Long before the Pocono Mountains became a destination for families, honeymooners, nature-lovers and relaxation-seekers, the area was inhabited by the Delaware, Iroquois, Shawnee, Minisink, Lenape and Paupack Indians. In 1659, the Dutch established settlements near the famous Delaware Water Gap, but were forced to leave by the English in 1664. By 1742, English and German settlers were arriving in the Pocono Mountains and the first permanent residence was established by Nicholas Depui in 1725 at Shawnee.

1829 - 1927:  First Hotel Established and an Industry is Born

The Delaware Water Gap was the site of the first boarding house hotel, established in 1829 by Anthony Dutot, who initiated what would become a wildly successful resort industry. By 1900, thousands of visitors from the growing cities of Philadelphia and New York escaped to the high altitudes for summer vacations. In the upper regions of the Pocono Mountains, the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company (now PPL Electric Utilities, Inc.) began the construction of what is now the third largest man-made lake in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Lake Wallenpaupack. In 1926, PPL Electric Utilities, Inc. dammed the creek and built a hydro-electric plant and in doing so, a 5,600-acre lake was created with 52 miles of uninterrupted shoreline. During Prohibition, resorts of the Poconos described themselves as "Friendly Mountain Resorts" where card-playing or games of chance were not allowed and golf, tennis and other sports were not permitted on Sundays.

Post World War II: Here Come the Honeymooners!

During World War II, many GI's took their leave with their girlfriends and families in the Poconos. The area took on a romantic appeal for these young people, and many returned after the war as honeymooners. In 1945, Rudolf Von Hoevenberg opened a rustic operation consisting of some cabins and a main lodge, called The Farm on the Hill, the first honeymoon resort of the Pocono Mountains. Plush resorts sprang up in the 1940s and 1950s and spurred the growth of a flourishing resort business in the Pocono Mountains.

In 1946, the Pocono Mountains welcomed the first commercial ski area in Pennsylvania, Big Boulder Ski Area. In 1950, the first patent application for the making of snow by blowing water through a nozzle was filed, and by the winter of 1956, the system was perfected and in place at Big Boulder Ski Area, making the Poconos a bonafide ski destination. Shortly after, the opening of Interstates 80 and 81 in the late 1950s and 1960s in the four-county region made the Pocono region easily accessible by motor vehicles. Family-owned and operated resorts gained popularity during this time, where the comforts of home could be found among the convenience of a full-service resort for an ideal summer vacation of family picnics, zany games and organized sports and activities. 

1960s – 70s: Heart-shaped Tubs and Racing Stripes

In 1963, the heart-shaped tub was introduced at Caesars Cove Haven in Lakeville. Life Magazine ran photos of this latest novelty and a flood of publicity followed, resulting in the naming of the Pocono Mountains as the "Honeymoon Capital of the World." Pocono International Raceway (now Pocono Raceway) in Long Pond opened its 2½ mile super speedway in 1971 with the first series of Indy car races. NASCAR soon followed in 1972 and continues to bring over 100,000 race fans to the Poconos twice each summer. In the 1980s, the growth of whitewater rafting, golfing, outlet shopping and other attractions further broadened the four-season appeal of the Pocono Mountains.

1990s: A Destination Evolves

The 1990s ushered an era of change to the Pocono Mountains: several venerable honeymoon resorts closed, while other accommodation facilities and tourist attractions made significant capital improvements to their properties. The Pocono Mountains Quality Assurance program was created in 1996 to enable Pocono tourist facilities to not only provide a superior product to their existing customers but to aid them in attracting new business and to help ensure that visitors have a satisfying experience. Today the program encompasses 100 properties including accommodations, restaurants, attractions, ski areas and campgrounds.

 

Delaware Water Gap in the PoconosA New Century:  Fresh New Look and Exciting Future

In 2003, the Mountain Laurel Center for the Performing Arts opened in Bushkill to attract world-class caliber artists. Fall of 2005 welcomed Great Wolf Lodge, the northeast's largest indoor waterpark resort with 90,000 square feet of waterslides, a lazy river, an interactive treehouse water fort, a wave pool and 400 rooms. This spurred the onset of planning for Split Rock Resorts' indoor waterpark, H20ooohh!!, which opened in October 2008. The region's first casino resort, Mount Airy Casino Resort, featuring slot-machine gaming greeted additional travelers to the Poconos beginning in October 2007.  

Pocono Mountains properties are continuing to invest millions in improvements and renovations including golf courses, resorts, bed and breakfasts, rental properties and timeshares. To attract midweek business to the Pocono Mountains, resorts have also invested in new conference and meeting facilities that will serve the needs of corporations, associations and other groups looking to hold business-related events, meetings and team building experiences.

Golfers can now tee-off at more than 35 courses, including those designed by Robert Trent Jones, AJ Tillinghast and Donald Ross. Resorts began adding on-site spas as well to cater to stressed consumers seeking to be pampered, including the Lodge at Woodloch, an exclusive $35-million destination spa that opened in spring 2006 in the Lake Region of the Pocono Mountains.   

Throughout the four-county region, country inns and bed and breakfasts provide serene escapes with beautiful accommodations, delicious home-baked goods and personal hospitality.

The Pocono Mountains region is also a place for soft adventure activities such as hiking, biking, fishing, canoeing and whitewater rafting. With nine state parks, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River and Steamtown National Historic Site, the Pocono Mountains offer a wide spectrum of outdoor recreation opportunities. 

The small towns of the Pocono Mountains are becoming tourist meccas on their own, each encompassing culture, art and history. Milford, along the Delaware River, hosts musical events and a fall film festival and offers its visitors nearby historic sites, a charming downtown of galleries, shops, restaurants, inns and a painstakingly, beautifully restored boutique hotel, The Hotel Fauchère, which opened in 2006. The quaint Victorian town of Jim Thorpe, along the Lehigh River, has historic mansions and seasonal celebrations. Honesdale, the "Birthplace of the American Railroad," is home to friendly downtown boutiques and themed railroad tours. Stroudsburg awaits visitors with unique shopping and dining experiences, spectacular local artistry and a variety of festivals. 

With Interstates 80, 81, 84 and the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike criss-crossing through the region, driving to the different areas of the Poconos is more convenient than ever. 

As it has for almost two centuries, the Pocono Mountains region continues to be so close yet feel so far removed from the everyday hassles of life – a region filled with relaxing and scenic beauty, and encompassing a calm, carefree style that engages guests in leisure pursuits and in connection with nature, friends and loved ones.  This is the legacy of the Pocono Mountains.  

PLACES TO STAY

The Pocono Mountains offer lodging facilities to suit every need or budget... Learn More
Apr
26

CALENDAR

4/26/2014
Hawley EarthFest

Hawley, PA invites you to join in the celebration of love for planet Earth! It's the one thing we all have in common, so let's come together and recognize all that makes it wonderful. Local businesses and conservation organizations will be offering programs, activities, and events for a weekend of celebrating, learning, and exploring. Bike rides, crafts, a parade, guest speakers, a farmers' market, and a festival are just a taste of what Hawley has to offer for the first Hawley EarthFest in 2014. More

Apr
26
4/26/2014
Jim Thorpe Earth Day Celebration

Jim Thorpe Earth Day Celebration kicks off in downtown Jim Thorpe. The celebration includes live entertainment, children's activities, demonstrations, workshops, environmental education and more. Rain date is April 27. More