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Great Pocono Resorts came into existence prior to the Civil War but the large resorts came into their own after the war ended. The Delaware Water Gap was the second largest inland resort town in the United States after the Civil War ranking only behind Saratoga Springs, New York.

By the early 20th century the Pocono Mountains continued to be one of the top travel destinations in the country. Railroading was popular and the Pocono's was only a few hours away by rail from both New York and Philadelphia. Huge and spectacular resorts were being built throughout Monroe County in the Pocono Mountains with many resorts accommodating more than 300 guests. The resorts were grand in style and had the latest technology - like pure mountain spring drinking water, steam heat, electrical lights, long distance phone service and hydraulic elevators! Of course the resorts offered fantastic mountain views, cascading waterfalls, hundreds of acres of delight, pristine lakes and of course the beautiful and historic Delaware River! Scenic guide books ranked the Delaware Water Gap as one of the top scenic marvels in the United States with more than 500,000 visitors each year.

Many of these spectacular resorts are no longer in existence and not a trace of information can be found about these classic resorts except maybe for an old photograph.

One of the earliest resorts built in the Poconos was The Kittatinny, first of the resort hotels at the Delaware Water Gap opened in 1832. By the end of the Civil War the hotel could accommodate more that 250 guests and at the turn of the century over 500 guests. From its riverside veranda 180 feet above the Delaware, guests could command a beautiful view of the river and watch moonlit cruises aboard the steamboat Kittatinny. The resort burned in 1931.

A notable neighbor of the Kittatinny Hotel was the Water Gap House, opened on June 20, 1872 above the Kittatinny on Mount Minsi, which could welcome 275 guests. President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Water Gap House on August 10, 1906. On Thursday November 11, 1915 the resort burned to the ground in one of the largest fires the county had ever seen. The owners vowed to rebuild but a new resort was never built.

Montanesca, in Mount Pocono was opened on June 15, 1901 and was situated on a mountain crest in the center of a park with 80 acres 2,000 feet above sea level. The resort boasted it had 125 chambers with box spring mattresses! This fabulous resort burned down in 1911.

One former resort still stands. The Buck Hill Inn in Mountainhome was open in 1901 and stayed open for nearly 9 decades. By 1930 the Inn featured over 309 bedrooms. Its magnificent stone structure still stands but the resort has been closed for many years and is in disrepair. There is still a beautiful golf club community with over 200 homes and more than 5,000 acres of property. Former visitors included Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ted Kennedy and Thurgood Marshall.

There are still many popular and historic resorts in the Poconos. Three classic resorts come to mind. The Pocono Manor, Skytop Lodge and Resort and The Shawnee Inn Golf Resort.

The Pocono Manor is a 3,500 acre resort listed on the National Registry of Historic Places as a Historic District. The resort opened its doors in 1902 and has 257 guest rooms. It is known as the "Grand Lady of the Mountains" to many local residents and has an old world charm. The Manor boasts two 18 hole championship golf courses and a world class spa.

The Shawnee Inn was originally called The Buckwood Inn constructed in 1910 - 1911. Their trademark is their golf course known as "the gem of the east." In 1938 the Inn hosted the historic PGA Championship where Paul Runyan defeated the Inn's resident golf pro, Sam Snead. In 1943 the famous entertainer Fred Waring purchased the resort and renamed it The Shawnee Inn. He made the Inn the center of his musical activities and his well known group, The Pennsylvanians, broadcast his famous radio programs from the resort. Many of Waring's friends came to Shawnee as guests, including Jackie Gleason, Lucille Ball, Art Carney, Perry Como, Dwight Eisenhower, Eddie Fisher, George Gobel and Ed Sullivan. Arnold Palmer, the Pennsylvania born golf great, met his wife at Shawnee. Today the resort is owned by Charles and Virginia Kirkwood.

The Skytop Lodge and Resort was built during the "roaring twenties" three miles north of Canadensis on Route 390. Skytop has more than 2,500 acres, a historic Dutch Colonial stone lodge overlooking Skytop Lake and an 18 hole golf course. The resort is known for its many activities besides golf - including tennis, hiking, biking, nature trails, boating and kayaking, snowshoeing, skiing, ice-skating, fishing and shooting.

The Poconos newest family resort just opened in Scotrun in 2005. Great Wolf Lodge is the first large scale family resort built in the Poconos in 3 decades. The facility is a 92 million dollar resort built on 95 acres and features more than 400 rooms and a 78,000 square foot indoor water park with 11 waterslides and 6 pools.

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