Washington Irving, Irving Cliff and the Ill-fated Irving Cliff Hotel
Irving's trip to Honesdale was described in a letter from Washington Irving to his sister in glowing terms, "Honesdale is situated between high hills on a plain through which two romantic mountain streams flow, uniting in the village and forming the Lackawaxen River. There are two wide basins where the streams unite, and the water was formed into the two most picturesque lakes. From the Eastern shore of one of these, Lake Dyberry, a solid ledge of serried and moss-grown slate rock rises almost sheer to the height of nearly 400 feet."
This beautiful blending of rock, lake and stream elicited many expressions of delight from Irving, and he insisted on scaling the rocky height in order to study the surrounding scenery. The entire company climbed to the summit. The delight of Irving was so great when he reached the summit, that Philip Hone insisted that the ledge be known as Irving Cliff.
In 1883, on the summit of this historic cliff , a large summer hotel was begun. The four-story castellated building had a capacity of 200 guests and was furnished throughout with modern improvements. There were 125 spacious bedrooms, each having its individual bathroom. It had broad verandas overlooking the scene that had so entranced Washington Irving, was elegant in all its appointments, heated by steam and open grate fires, and was supplied with an elevator. The hotel was surrounded by ample grounds, shady groves, rugged rocks, fine walks and drives in all directions. It was supplied with the best of water from a celebrated mountain spring, and its high altitude, pure mountain air, good sewage and water rendered it absolutely free from mosquitoes - at least that's what their advertising promised!
The formal opening of the Irving Cliff Hotel was not scheduled until June 22, 1889 and was being readied for the grand opening when disaster struck. The hotel was completely destroyed by fire on May 28. It was never rebuilt and nothing else has ever been built on the unlucky site. It is now a public park, and while the view has been altered by time, it is still one of the most arresting in Wayne County.
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