Abandoned Honeymoon Resorts of the Pocono Mountains
The Tacky Luxury of the Poconos
Hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of couples spent their honeymoon here. In the Poconos of the '70s and '80s, shag carpeting, mirrored walls, personal pools, and intimate fireplaces were the rage. Now photographers have captured these sensual details in all their mildewed decrepitude.
The first resort hotel in the Poconos was built in the Delaware Water Gap in 1829. Tourism blossomed after the Civil War (that would be after 1865 for you history-challenged folks). The Poconos, only a few hours away from New York and Philadelphia by rail, were a great place to vacation for city dwellers. Lush mountains, fresh air, and pretty lakes offered picturesque views and relaxing down time. Resorts from this period included the Kittatinny, Water Gap House, Montanesca and Buck Hill Inn. Of these, only Buck Hill is still standing.
After World War II, the invasion of the honeymooners began, starting with GIs and their sweethearts. In the late '50s and '60s, highways made it even easier to escape to Pocono resorts. Not only was it a happening place for happy honeymooners, but skiers began to hit the slopes in the Pocono Mountains.
During the '60s, one of the Pocono resorts (the Caesars Cove Haven, which still exists) brought happy honeymooners the heart-shaped bathtub, as seen by many in Life Magazine. Below is a fine example from one of the region's abandoned resorts.
Heart-shaped tubs took over the Pocono honeymoon suites, along with champagne-glass-shaped elevated Jacuzzis (some of which are still in use; see video at end).
Unfortunately, I have yet to find an abandoned resort with a champagne-glass tub. It is my life goal to photograph one. It is also my dream to secure a red heart-shaped tub and turn it into a goldfish pond in my flower bed.
In the '70s Pocono resorts became even tackier. Honeymooners enjoyed carpeted walls, mirrored ceilings, crazy couches, lamps on chains, and sink tops in the shape of hearts. But in the '80s these resorts began to look dated. Business dropped off, perhaps as a result of shorter vacations and a switch to suburban development. By the '90s, many of the resorts were closing.
Mom Enjoyed Her Honeymoon at Pocono Gardens
My mother had spent her honeymoon with my stepdad at the Pocono Gardens Lodge. It was a host to villas, personal pools, heart shaped tubs, a lake, an indoor pool and outdoor pool. This resort was razed a few years ago. I was sad to see it go.
Garment Workers Needed Fun Too
One interesting place in the Pocono Mountains was Unity House (called White Pines by some). The International Ladies Garment Workers Union owned this 655-acre resort, which offered union members a great summer getaway for about 70 years.
Many of the workers came from New York, Philadelphia, Massachusetts and New Jersey. Unity House had a state-of-the-art theater, cabins, and a little disco and bar on the lake. Factory closures led to serious declines in the number of union vacationers, and the resort had to close its doors around 1990.
Recently someone wrote a comment saying they would love to go and tag Unity House. Well, Mr. Tagger, let me inform you that this place has security and a caretaker, and the road is blocked. If you're reading my articles with the intent of going and destroying these places, well, then, you have issues. I am simply sharing histories of places that have been forgotten.
A Playground to Explore—While It Lasts
The Poconos have seen a number of great resorts come and go. Some honeymoon havens remain. More resorts are being built, and there is also now a casino.
I have had so much fun exploring the abandoned resorts of the Poconos. There is always some awesome surprise of crazy tackiness. For explorers like myself, the region is like a playground where we can see old resorts before they are torn down.
But be warned; don’t go traipsing around Buck Hill. It has security, they don’t mess around, and the fine isn’t cheap!