History of Fairview Lake

                                        By Coulby Dunn

     Fairview Lake is located in Tafton, Pennsylvania along Route 390 and Gumbletown Road, just south of Lake Wallenpaupack. 

     Geologically Fairview Lake is generally considered to be a glacial lake that took shape millions of years ago.  Its high elevation of 1,525 feet above sea level has naturally fed springs from deep within the earth's crust.  The watershed area is so small that it provides more pristine waters compared to other lakes.

     Like every other part of the Poconos the earliest known settlers had to work and live with the Lenape Indians.  The Lenape's were fearless warriors in battle, but were not a warlike race.  They were a proud and productive tribe that traded with their English settlers - exchanging iron pots, metal tools, knives and guns for beads, baskets and pottery.  It was through colonization that their lifestyle changed and it was then that the Lenape tribes felt threatened and discontented.  Hostilities broke out and life in the region became more difficult.

     The earliest settlers chose to live on the north side of the lake, probably because of the southern exposures.  Logging and tanneries were a way of life in the 18th century and Fairview Lake was no exception.  Local mills not only could saw logs, but grind bark for tanneries.  At that time the lake was known as Big Pond and for a short time was known as Lake Arthur, named after King Arthur.  After decades of debate and discussion the lake was finally recognized as Fairview Lake.

      Most early residents wanted nothing to do with the name Fairview Lake.  Local developers wanted to change the name because residents coming from New York and Philadelphia wanted to live on a lake, not a pond.  The name Fairview Lake was good for business.

     Many of the early deeds from Fairview Lake were destroyed when the lake was a part of Northampton County and the Courthouse had a major fire.  Wayne County split off from Northampton County in 1798 and then Pike County was taken from Wayne County in 1814.  So in the course of 17 years Fairview Lake was governed by 3 different county governments!

    The first names that appeared on Fairview Lake were names like Atkinson, Suydam, Jones, Bryden and Weitz.  Some of these families still appear on the lake.  Great grandparents and their children's children have lived on the lake for more than 100 years and have never left!

     What was unusual about Fairview Lake was how the lake evolved.  Most rural communities in early America began with local residents living in a region that eventually gives way to a commercial district.  The residents then end up moving into outlying areas.  Fairview Lake began with a commercial district first, with many hotels and camps surrounding the lake.  The hotels and camps gradually disappeared and the lake became an exclusive residential community with 100 lakefront homes, some second tier homes, and one camp, Camp Oneka.

     The Jenny Brinks Hotel, Bobby Smith Hotel, Argus Hotel, Keulin Inn, and Lenape Village all played a role in the history of Fairview Lake.  

Lenape Village, built in 1926, was a place for parents of campers to stay while visiting their children.  In 1961 they advertised 75 cottages around the lake where "Forest, Lake and Mountains meet."  The main lodge and surrounding buildings burned down in June, 1966.

     Popular camps on the lake included the Y.M.C.A. Camp Brooklyn, Camp Lenape, Camp Anaconda and the only camp still on the lake, Camp Oneka. 

    Camp Oneka is an all-girls camp started in 1908 and is one of the oldest all girls’ camps in America.  It has a staff of 40 with 125 campers ages 7 - 16. 

     Camp Brooklyn was started in 1911 and operated for more than 60 years in what is now called Cranberry Cove.  The camp had 16 acres with 8 acres along the lake and 8 acres of ball fields across the street. Christian living and Bible study was part of their camp program every day.  In 1974 the camp was sold and part of the lands was donated to Palmyra Township to build a new township building.


     During the depression of the 1930's a short lived Camp Anaconda was at Hemlock Point, the lake's largest peninsula, and was known to have a lighthouse on a large rock out in the water that rang beautiful chimes every afternoon at sunset.  

     Camp Lenape was established in 1920 and featured 3 tennis courts, basketball, archery, rifle ranges, and of course swimming and boating.

     On Route 390, right next to the Fairview outlet there is still a sign that says "Red Onion Hill."  Early in the 1900's glass blowing was a major industry in Hawley and Honesdale.  Every June the glass shops would close for the summer and many of the employees would migrate to Red Onion Hill with their camping gear and fishing tackle to spend their summers on the lake fishing, swimming and boating.  It was a way of life for over a decade up until World War I.

     The residents at Fairview Lake had lots of fun in the winter months as well as the summer.  Some old timers will tell you about the 1920's and 1930's racing over the ice with Model T Fords pulling sleds and skaters  or simply performing spin outs and other antics.

     Just a mile north of Fairview Lake lies Lake Wallenpaupack, a manmade 5,700 acre lake built by the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company in 1927.  PPL built the lake for hydro-electric power and it brought in many new vacationers from metropolitan New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Philadelphia.


      In the 1960's the Wallenpaupack Area School District was formed and a new high school was built right on the shores of Lake Wallenpaupack, just three miles north of Fairview Lake. In the 1970's Interstate Route 84 was constructed with exit 27 being three miles south of Fairview Lake.

      Today, Fairview Lake is a vibrant, close knit lakefront community with mostly rustic looking homes with board and batten, log, cedar, and hemlock flitch siding. Most residents are unpretentious. The community has a rich history and boundless beauty. The roads around the lake are gravel and have a real country look to them, just like they had a century earlier.

A special thanks and tribute to Donal Coutts and memory of Margaret Hunter and family