Eagles Mere, PA a hidden gem

Every other year my mom, sister, and I try to do a girls get-a-way. My sister has two young kids and it can be tough to get out of town. Two years ago we got on a plane and all met in St. Pete Beach. Maybe I’ll write about that sometime.  This year we decided to meet halfway between my home in NY and their home in PA. As you might guess, there isn’t a lot between here and there besides forest, small coal towns, and the home of the Little League World Series. Our first mistake was trying to go away over Mom’s birthday weekend, which happened to fall on Memorial Day Weekend this year. Everything was booked, or the prices were so high that it wasn’t even worth thinking about. None of us wanted to cook, clean, or do dishes. That meant that a cabin was probably out. We were thinking somewhere with a pool might be fun, but after the weather we had, I’m glad we passed on that requirement. After a few days and a lot of digging I came across a little gem in the middle of the Pennsylvania wilderness called Eagles Mere.

Eagles Mere was a popular mountain resort in the late 1800’s into the early 1900’s when resort vacations started to become unpopular and not economical. I love history so it looked like the perfect place to spend a couple days with my mom and sister. It was roughly halfway between us and it wouldn’t take me any longer to get to Maine from Eagles Mere as it does from home in NY. So we booked with the Crestmont, which I thought was a historic inn based on the history of the town, and we made our way to PA for a long and hopefully relaxing weekend.

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Sadly, what remains of Eagles Mere is lacking in both character and entertainment. The museum is wonderful and detailed the life of the town in the early 1900’s with 5 beautiful hotels that overlooked the lake and downtown. It had a rail train that brought people to the lake and then up to the Crestmont which, at one time, sat towering over the lake from atop the hill. After the popularity in the 20’s wained, the hotels struggled to stay open, changed hands many times, and were either destroyed by fire or dismantled, moved or demolished. Sadly, the Crestmont, was lost and now condos sit on the old hotel foundation and what is left of the Crestmont Inn lacks the view, charm, and character it once had.  Weather has prevented them from doing the ice slide for many years, and there is actually no restaurant in the downtown.  Our first night we ate at the Crestmont. The food really was good, but we had reservations for 7:30pm, per their request at check in that we make reservations. We sat for an hour and a half before we were served our dinner at 9pm.  We were in no hurry, and we had we ordered a bottle of wine, so we sat and talked till our meals arrived. However, since the service at the Crestmont was so incredibly slow, we decided to try somewhere else the next evening. Slightly outside of town there is “The Barn” which, although listed on placemats in the sweet shop, was not the easiest place to find. The food was good, no complaints there, but if you’re expecting anything more then a family diner/bar, you’ll be disappointed. On our third night in town we opted to go the opposite direction out of town and found a different restaurant/taphouse to have dinner. The food here was also good, service was not quite as slow, and again it had a family diner/bar atmosphere. I don’t know if the town of Eagles Mere could support a restaurant, I fear the people who own the beautiful estates around the lake don’t really go out for dinner. But after visiting the museum I was really wishing for some of that old world charm that used to exist in this tiny little town in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania.

To their credit, they no longer could afford to run the train around the lake and opted to change it into a 6 mile hiking trail. I would have loved to explore this trail. I understand there are some beautiful waterfalls along the trail, however, the weather did not cooperate and my poor mom fell right before coming on our little trip so she had a bum knee and ankle making hiking in the less then optimal weather a no go.

We did enjoy the sweet shop and the book store. If you like to read, the book store is a little treasure cove. We spent more time in the bookshop then anywhere else in Eagles Mere. Old and new books, history, fiction or pretty much anything else you could think of. A couple of couches in there an I might never have left! The sweet shop, being the only place in town that seemed to serve anything, was a nice little throw back. You could have lunch, coffee, and ice cream. We had coffee and ice cream and there was even a little arcade in the back if you were traveling with children.  Other than that, there was really nothing in downtown Eagles Mere.  The shops that are “suggested” when you read about Eagles Mere are all no bigger than my kitchen and I am hard pressed to understand how they stay open. One was touristy, one was artsy, and one was second hand goods. I think the “camp store” as that is what the tiny little grocery store reminded me of, must supply the lake goers and the people who own the beautiful cottages must stop at a grocery store outside of town. We saw plenty of people walking around the lake, but otherwise the “downtown” was empty.

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We attempted to find a couple of wineries while we were in town. It sounded like this would be a thing to do in Eagles Mere. We were successful in finding only one winery that was open. The other two wineries, with signs by the road, were closed. One appeared closed for good, the other was difficult to tell if it was simply closed the day we tried to visit or also closed for good. Our little driving adventure took us past most of the beautiful old homes that remain from the towns heyday and out into the surrounding countryside. Although I do believe that Eagles Mere was a beautiful place to visit in it’s day, it’s missing the charm it once had. That being said, I do think if you owned a home in this area that you vacationed with your family on the lake and enjoyed the classic charm, it might have a completely different view. However, for someone visiting Eagles Mere, it was disappointing.

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We spent most of our time in the car exploring the countryside and in our room playing Phase 10, Ticket to Ride, and Forbidden Island. It was lucky that my mom thought to mention bringing games along, as we may have found it difficult to entertain ourselves otherwise. Had the weather been nice, we may have spent a day at the lake or hiking. Had we found more wineries would would have done a wine tour. And had any of the previous hotels still remained, as an architect, I would have enjoyed exploring their hidden treasures.

As you can see above, still 3 happy faces to be away on an adventure together. I would tell people to go and visit the museum in Eagles Mere, it’s quick and well done. The train model of the town is fascinating, and a drive through town to see what’s left of the beautiful cottages is quite a nice ride. If you’re hikers, then I would definitely recommend visiting Eagles Mere. In the summer I am sure the lake is lovely. The trail around the old railroad bed would be nice and it’s close to Rickets Glenn State Park and Worlds End. If you like the wilderness, this very well might be your place. But if you’re looking for the history and a cute downtown, I have to say, I personally think they no longer exist.

Until our next adventure! ~ Cheers, Emily

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