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Creepy Photos Show Abandoned American Resort Towns

These mountain resorts in Pennsylvania and New York, once thriving vacation spots, are now ghosts of their former grandeur.

For the last three years, Pablo Maurer has photographed vacation towns in the Poconos and Catskills mountain ranges. He’s one of few people to recently set foot in the once-booming vacation spots that today more resemble ruins than resorts.

In their heyday, resorts in the Poconos in Pennsylvania, and Catskills in New York were picturesque emblems of 1950s leisure. Today, resorts such as Pennsylvania’s Penn Hills and New York’s Grossinger and Homowack sit abandoned, filled with trash, and overcome by neglected flora.


Houses at the edge of Eagle Lake at the Birchwood resort. (Photograph by Pablo Iglesias Maurer, postcard published by Planned Color Post Cards)



The browns, reds, and oranges of this Poconos dining hall's carpet have turned green, the color of the moss that's taken its place. (Photograph by Pablo Iglesias Maurer, postcard published by Kardmasters)



The indoor pool at Grossinger's, which opened in 1958. Elizabeth Taylor attended the pool's opening, and Florence Chadwick - the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions - took the first dip in it. (Photograph by Pablo Iglesias Maurer, postcard published by Bill Bard Associates)



Grossinger's indoor tennis center. (Photograph by Pablo Iglesias Maurer, postcard published by FPC advertising)


Maurer enjoys exploring abandoned places. He says his method for finding forgotten structures is simply to get in his car and drive. While exploring an abandoned office at the former Penn Hills Resort, he found a matchbook with a picture of an indoor swimming pool on the cover. Exploring the resort further, he was able to find the angle at which the original photo was taken, align his camera, and capture the same image decades later.

"I came up with the idea to find other ephemera from that era. I picked up postcards from eBay and area antique shops," said Maurer.

See the Creepy Remains of Abandoned American Resort Towns WATCH: Photographer Pablo Iglesias Maurer revisits scenes from midcentury postcards and advertisements of resorts that now lie in ruins.

Using these antique photos, Maurer then hunted down the original locations and created before-and-after comparisons.

"The images inspire emotion that's really difficult to put your finger on. It's a little melancholy," said Maurer. It was the idea of capturing this feeling that led the photographer, a Washington D.C. resident, to return to these resort regions over the course of three years to showcase the passage of time.


The indoor pool at Grossinger's. The pool has sat vacant since the late 90's and has fallen beyond repair. (Photo by Pablo Iglesias Maurer, historical photo published by Bill Bard Associates)



A four-lane Brunswick bowling alley at The Homowack Lodge now sits abandoned on the southern edge of the famed “Borscht Belt.” (Photograph by Pablo Iglesias Maurer, postcard published by Bill Bard Associates)



The cocktail lounge of a now-defunct resort in the Poconos. (Photograph by Pablo Iglesias Maurer, postcard published by Kardmaster Brochures)



An indoor swimming pool at Penn Hills Lodge and Cottages in the Poconos. (Photograph by Pablo Iglesias Maurer, matchbook publisher unknown)


Each of the abandoned places and rooms that Maurer explored had its own personal significance to Maurer, he explained, but one room in particular seemed to resonate more than the others.

"The bowling alley," he says, was an attraction in the Homowack lodge in the Catskills. "I was there on Christmas day when my family was out of town, and I had nothing to do. I went up there and bowled. It was one of the most surreal moments of my life... It felt like it had been recently lived in."

The Homowack was one of a number of lodges in the Catskills known as the Borscht Belt that was prominent from the 1930s to 1980s. The region is attributed with inspiring the movie "Dirty Dancing." A report from Brown University's Catskills Institute attributes the decline to visitors becoming "bored with the old ways," and cheaper travel allowing people to reach more distant destinations.

Similarly, the Penn Hills Resort in the Poconos slowly slid into decline in the late 20th century and was closed by 2009.

Since publishing his work, Maurer has received emails and messages from people who say they once spent their summers in these broken-down resorts.

"People connect the decay in these photographs with general sort of decay," explained Maurer of the feedback he's received. "Something once grand was left to rot. I think to a lot of people, it's to them a symbol of how wasteful we are."


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