Snow, Snow, Snow! Let it Snow!

Reporter in Residence, Monroe Mouse

What fun I have been having! The snow shoes in the attic certainly encouraged me to get out and about. The funny thing is that the few pedestrians along Ninth and Main did not seem to be as pleased as I was about the current weather conditions.

The pristine, white blanket of snow conjured up images of skating on the farm pond, sledding down hills, and ending the day roasting chestnuts in the fireplace. I just wish I could share with these passersby how winters used to be!

Actually, winters were more than fun for many county residents in the past. For those in the higher elevations, harvesting ice from former log dams and natural lakes was a winter livelihood. With the advent of the railroad, major ice companies employed local workers to cut huge blocks of ice from these lakes and dams. Much of the ice was stored in wooden buildings longer that football fields and several stories high. Well into the warm weather, ice was shipped by rail to major cities for refrigeration.

Enough with work, let’s get back to winter fun. You may not remember that local resorts in the late 1800s and early 1900s closed during the winter months. In the second decade of the 1900s, the railroads were being affected by the slow economy. George A. Cullen, agent for the Lackawanna Railroad, encouraged resorts to extend their season.

We have to remember that most guests arrived by train and were transported from the local stations by carriages from the resorts. Buck Hill opened year-round in 1914 and was followed by Pocono Manor in 1916. These resorts realized that there was a potential for remaining open year-round if they had sufficient activities to engage their guests. The cold winters and an abundance of snow provided the essentials.

Tobogganing before World War I and skiing in the 1920s were favorites. Both resorts had ice hockey teams that played each other. The steep hills of the area were for the brave of heart who participated in ski jumping, leaping in the air for 200 feet and landing at 60 miles per hour. Snowshoeing, ice boating, cross-country skiing, ice skating, skate sailing and, of course, sleigh rides all became a part of a resort’s winter activities.

It is interesting to note that a former winter activity is in vogue again. Pocono Manor was the first to introduce dog sledding back then. Alaskan style dog sleds were used for the sport. Buck Hill followed by accident when a guest never returned for 5 husky pups. Harry Drennan, then Winter Sports Director, raised the pups which grew to become Buck Hill’s kennel of 40 sled dogs.

While many of these sports may sound exciting to the more adventurous, I feel that snow-shoeing is just right for me. But just now, it’s time for a snack of a few chosen nuts in my special corner of the Mansion.