In the Endless Mountains region of Sullivan County, in NEPA, visitors were gathered on the porch of the Shops at Eagles Mere to avoid a passing rain storm on a Saturday afternoon in July.
But despite the dark silver sky and the falling rain, all were thrilled to be in this tiny hamlet that time has forgotten.
“I like the nostalgia,” said Susan Dachowski, Doylestown, who was day-tripping from a nearby cottage in Laporte. “It’s simple fun. You can go for a walk along the lake or sit on the porch swing with a book. People say hello and the windows are open.”
Eagles Mere was incoporated in 1899 as a summer vacation spot for wealthy Philadelphians to enjoy its mile-long lake. Vacationers can spend the week relaxing in one of borough’s many turn-of-the-century Victorian homes and escape the digital world. You would be hard-pressed to find cell service here, but what you will find is tranquility.
You may find a few locals, but most travel from afar for the crisp mountain air that seems to find itself at more than 2,000 feet above sea level.
“It’s very uncomplicated,” Dachowski said. “It takes you back to a time when life was very simple.
Siblings Lynne Douyotas of Charlotte, North Carolina and Michelle Devilbiss of Frederick, Maryland decided to meet up at Eagles Mere for a week’s vacation along with their two other sisters, their husbands and children. They brought their bicycles, sneakers, swimsuits and childhood memories and ditched the hustle and bustle of daily life. Nineteen are spending the week in the historic borough.
“We love the slow pace here, it’s just so peaceful,” Douyotas said as she stood outside the Eagles Mere Bookstore and its famous clock tower. The shopping area also features a small deli and convenience store, boutique and a must-see museum.
Devilbiss said her family loves the lake and love walking around town to see to see the beautifully maintained homes and carefully manicured lawns. “It’s lovely, just gorgeous,” she said.
Locals say the lake water is so clean and clear you could drink from it and not get sick. The Nature Conservancy and Lake Association own the watershed and assure its cleanliness, but not for drinking. While a few restaurants do exist, it’s The Sweet Shop that seems to attract the most summertime guests with ice cream, sandwiches and out-of-towners.
In the dead of winter, only 120 people call Eagles Mere home (according to the last census), but in the middle of summer, it blossoms to more than 2,000.
Mary Burton, Arnold, Maryland began coming here 50 years ago.
“It’s beautiful,” she said. “It’s restful. I fell in love with the quiet and peacefulness.”
On leaving Eagles Mere, the towns are dotted with farmstands, gift shops and antique stores.
Robert and Shelly Karschner, Montoursville, were making their first trip amidst the heat and humidity to Benton, Columbia County to do some antique shopping.
“I love to go antiquing,” Shelly Karschner said. “I love this quaint little town out in the country. And you can come back and always find or see something different.”
She was here to find something to restore or resell.
Benton is part of the Fishing Creek Antique Trail, sponsored by the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau. The trail runs 20 miles with 30 shops (or more) to stop and browse. “Each town has its own theme,” she said. “You can always find something interesting.”