Vacationing Always Big in the Poconos
Reporter in Residence
I never cease to be amazed at what I learn on a daily basis at the Stroud Mansion.
In mid-June, I was struck by the activity in the Meeting Room on the second floor of the Mansion. From the hearth, I observed the placement of strange wire structures throughout the room — really not that interesting!
However, the following day the whole scene had changed. Now, I knew I would be occupied for some time learning about what I ascertained was a new exhibit — in fact, it was two distinct exhibits.
One display dealt with railroads and the other was an extensive collection of postcards and brochures of the Poconos as a vacation venue. I opted to devote my attention to the vacation photos first since this is the traditional time of year for getting away.
I recall that many wealthy Philadelphia Quakers endured the two-day journey to the mountains even as early as the 1820s to experience the healthy climate and striking natural beauty of the area. The Kittatinny Hotel built in 1829 by Antoine Dutot in what is now Delaware Water Gap was a sought-after destination. Its location took advantage of the magnificent work of nature, the gap carved out of the mountains by the Delaware River.
The destinations pictured on the postcards were nothing like the guest houses and hotels of by-gone eras. Apparently, over the years, vacationing had become a major part of the economy of the Poconos. From the variety of resorts, restaurants, gifts shops, and entertainment, it was evident that Pocono vacations were a major source of income for many year-round residents.
By the 1960s, large-scale resorts became a part of the Pocono scene along with the major inns that were founded at the beginning of the 20th century. The locations marketing to newlyweds drew the national media to the Pocono scene. Heart-shaped bathtubs appeared in leading magazines and increasing amenities and major entertainment personalities drew newlyweds from metropolitan areas within driving distance to the Poconos.
Other resorts catered to families with activities that would appeal to all age groups. Hats, mugs, candles, and novelties featuring the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania were inevitably packed in suitcases to take home to family and friends. Restaurant menus ran the gamut from ham and eggs in the pan to gourmet meals. There was something for everyone!
All of the above visible evidence of the time period was a revelation to me, but what really caught my attention were the conversations about the exhibit by visitors. All who lived in the area during the exhibits’ time frame had memories. Couples who honeymooned here, individuals who worked in the resorts and shops, and all who simply lived in the area waxed nostalgic of those “Good Old Days.”
If you fall into any of these categories, you must stop by the Mansion by July 29. And if possible, please bring a friend to share your memories.
Remember, the railroad exhibit is just across the room with marvelous photos of transportation that, for so many years, was responsible for getting our visitors to their destinations.
For additional information on Pocono Resorts: Squeri, Lawrence. “Better in the Poconos.” University Park, Pennsylvania, The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002. Available for reference in-house at the Stroud Mansion and Eastern Monroe Public Library Local History Room, and on the web.