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Inside the honeymoon hotel ruins of the Poconos

Plus, avogeddon cometh.


October 21, 2022
Inside this edition: Crater king, eating 'avogeddon,' Yorktowne's back, main menu, trip counter, Jason Voorhees, and love lost in the Poconos.    

The final boss of Pennsylvania potholes is a 38 foot deep, 42 foot wide specimen with its own state park in what Lackawanna County borough?

(Keep scrolling for the answer, but don't miss all the good stuff in between. Like what you read? Forward this email to a friend.)

» One thing worth knowing: "Avogeddon" has hit Philadelphia. This week's gargantuan giveaway of surplus avocados — hundreds of thousands of them — was so popular that it ended early.

» One thing worth sharing: The 100-year-old Yorktowne Hotel in York is taking reservations again after a years-long renovation. Hilton bought the building. YDR (paywall) explains why that was such a big deal.

» One place worth watching: The prospective new owners of Hambone's Restaurant & Pub want to turn the Pittsburgh mainstay into a restaurant where french fries are the main course, per Pittsburgh Magazine.

» One thing worth reading: Ian Mackay used a motorized wheelchair to travel from D.C. through Pennsylvania on public trails, like the Great Allegheny Passage. His account is charming and obstacle-laden.

» One thing worth doing: The Inquirer (paywall) says Camp Crystal Lake — of Friday the 13th fame — is an active Boy Scout camp in New Jersey and you can tour it, assuming you can nail down tickets.

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» What Pa. voters are thinking ahead of the midterms
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» Jails not equipped for growing mental health crisis
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The luxury honeymoon suite at Penn Hills honeymoon resort. (Forsaken Fotos / Flickr

I am writing you this week from the recesses of a rabbit hole.

On Monday, I found this 95-second YouTube clip, a before-and-after of the former Penn Hills honeymoon resort in the Poconos — a place that became a mecca for adventurers, vandals, and arsonists after its 2009 closure. 

By Wednesday, my inbox was teeming with "dead motel" Google Alerts and my browser history screamed "Is everything okay!?"

Here are a few of my finds. Rabbit holes love company. 

  • DCist recreated old photos of Penn Hills and other honeymoon resorts in the Poconos and Catskills — showing images of each in their prime that then become lined up images of each in decline
  • The Penn Hills resort was searched in 2014's manhunt for convicted cop killer Eric Frein, who was later captured at another abandoned Poconos resort: a place called Birchwood
  • There were more abandoned resorts where those came from, including The Summit Resort in Pocono Township and The Buck Hill Inn in Barrett Township. Photog Seph Lawless saw them all.
  • Mount Airy Lodge, occasionally referred to as "the granddaddy of Poconos resorts," was replaced in 2007 by the Mount Airy Casino Resort. Before that it had fallen into elegant ruin.
  • Demolitions of the buildings at Penn Hills got underway last year. YouTuber Dan Bell was there before the bulldozers and made this dispatch, pitching it as the legendary resort's last hurrah
  • Sure, lots of the Poconos' honeymoon hotspots are gone, but there are still a few left with that vintage feel, including Cove Haven Resort in Lakeville. *Marriage certificate no longer required
  • The International Ladies Garment Workers Union owned a 655-acre resort in Pike County called Unity House. Union members used it as a getaway for about 70 years before it was abandoned, too.
  • How did the Poconos became the "honeymoon capital of the world"? Location, a post-World War II marriage boom, and Morris Wilkins' highly publicized invention of a novelty bathtub
  • What caused the honeymoon industry's decline in the Poconos? Lots of things, among them cheaper airfare that made far-flung vacations easier and driving distance from New York less meaningful.
  • Lest anyone come away from this with the impression that the Poconos are now a smoldering wasteland, I assure you that is not the case. Gothamist says the mountains are the new Brooklyn.

    Colin Deppen, PA Local editor

This photo by Robert S. piqued my curiosity: What happens to the lanternflies in the winter? Martha Stewart says the adults will die but the eggs will survive, unless you find them first. Send us your photos, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag @spotlightpennsylvania.

The Archbald Pothole in Archbald Borough is the centerpiece of a namesake state park, and was formed around 15,000 years ago.

It would take 35 fire truck tankers to fill the pothole with water. 

According to Atlas Obscura

Although the Archbald Pothole is often referred to as the world’s largest glacier-formed pothole, a second pothole was discovered roughly 1,000 feet northeast of the first. Unfortunately, due to a lack of funds it was never cleared out, but it is believed that the second pothole may be even larger.

Thanks for reading PA Local! We'll see you back here next week. But first ... send us your feedback. What did you like? What didn't you like? 

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