Eagles Mere and the Endless Mountain Route including Harvey's Lake.
If the summer heat of July is too much for you during the Bloomsburg Rally just take a relaxing ride to the Endless Mountains to a place called Eagles Mere then to Harvey's Lake following the mountain roads. A National Historic Site, Eagles Mere, elevation 2,100 feet, was first used by Susquehannock, Lenni-Lenape, and Iroquois Indian tribes that hunted around the Lake, giving it names such as Lekaumenupak (Sand Lake) and Wapaleechen (White Water). These names were significant because they recognized the fine natural sand that covers the north end of the glacier-created lake. It was this sand that led to the community's founding and the first settlement in what became Sullivan County.
Once part of William Penn's lands, the area was owned by Charles Walstoncraft of Philadelphia in 1794. He associated with Joseph Priestly, Jr. (son of the discoverer of oxygen who resided in the town of Northumberland south of Bloomsburg), General Gates, and George Lewis. Lewis, a wealthy Englishman who was residing in New York at the time, was commissioned by the English business establishment to buy real estate in America. At a dinner attended by these men in 1794, it is believed Priestly described the area to Lewis.
Lewis bought the Lake and 10,217 acres from Walstoncraft in September, 1794. Turn-of-the-century historians note that Lewis was deeply impressed by the health aspects of living on the mountain, far removed from the yellow fever epidemic ravaging New York at the time. In 1803, he settled near the lake. Lewis surveyed the lands, designed a community, and by 1808 operated a glass works on the south end of the lake using the sand found on the lake's north end, the present site of "the beach." Sand was floated across the lake on barges to a glass factory located on what became known as "Lewis Hill." Difficulties in transporting the finished glass and the end of the War of 1812 brought financial ruin to the operation.
The Lewis Glass Works era lingered to 1829, when Lewis returned to England and died there in 1830. Only one building, the former "Lake House," a boarding house, survives from the Lewis settlement. Constructed by 1803, it is now the rear section of the Lewis S. Smith cottage constructed 1879. The land passed through a succession of owners until Philadelphia Judge J. Richter Jones bought the property in 1845 with the goal of establishing a resort community. Because of the Civil War, Jones was unable to realize these plans. In 1863 Jones was killed in action in North Carolina. Jones' wife, Anne Eliza Clay Laussat, also of Philadelphia, is credited with changing the name from Lewis Lake to "Eaglesmere," symbolically heralding in the modern resort era.
Heirs of the Laussats', the Geyelins', also of Philadelphia, began selling building lots south of the lake in 1877. The land restrictions contained in the lots sold by the Geyelin estate were continued after 1885, when the lake and 1,000 feet around the lake were purchased by four men: This group became known as the Eagles Mere Syndicate. The syndicate not only developed much of the land around the lake, but, along with Eagles Mere hotel operators, promoted the resort, planned and built its infrastructure, laid out hiking trails, developed the beach area, and helped finance the Eagles Mere Railway which is today is a hiking path.
Beginning around 1877 Eagles Mere became Pennsylvania's answer to a movement that was sweeping the nation. Americans escaped the cities and headed for mountain and lake resorts for leisure, recreation, health, entertainment, and cultural activities. Eagles Mere attracted families from the eastern United States, particularly wealthy families from Philadelphia, Williamsport (then a prosperous city based on its lumber economy), and Washington, D.C.. To accommodate these visitors, five large hotels, and dozens of rental cottages, commercial and religious buildings were constructed around the lake as the century came to a close. Eagles Mere lake became the main attraction for swimming, boating and tobogganing in winter.
The large hotels are gone, but the cottages, most of which are in the Eagles Mere Historic District, are prime examples of well-preserved, Shingle, Queen Anne, Craftsman, and other architectural styles frequently found in similar resorts at this time. The district's architecture, activities, and traditions survive, making Eagles Mere a great day trip or stay in the mountain air as the founders intended.
The Eagels Mere Inn is a nice dinner stop after enjoying the historical town, visit the museum, browse the book store and have coffee or a sweet at the little shop and admire the clock of a by gone era.
Another great food stop is the Forksville General Store in the shadow of a covered bridge. There is great riding in this region, scenic country, mountains, and plenty of country roads. The owner is a native Philadelphian who makes a proper cheesesteak.