Encompassing 5,700 acres and at 13 miles long, Lake Wallenpaupack is the largest man-made lake in Pennsylvania. The lake was created by damming the Wallenpaupack Creek which ran through the small town of Wilsonville. The dam took 2,700 men to build and the final product is the 1,280 feet long and 70 feet tall structure that forced the creek to fill the bowl-shaped valley with water. The town of Wilsonville and the buildings that hadn’t been moved or razed within it became part of the lake floor close to the dam. The project was completed in 1926 by Pennsylvania Power and Light and included a 3.5 mile flow line to a hydroelectric plant that still produces power today. Besides generating power, the dam can be used to help with flood control and the lake has become a popular recreational spot for residents and visitors alike.
Hawley, the nearest town, was settled in the 1700s and played a significant role in developing railroad tracks and canals for transporting coal found in the surrounding area. As the canals and gravity rails were replaced by use of the Erie Railway in the mid 1800s, manufacturing took over as the main employment in Hawley. Several fine glass cutting companies built factories that utilized the area’s many waterfalls. The companies included the John S. O’Connor Glass Factory, Wangum Cut Glass, and Dorflinger Glass Company in nearby White Mills. Around the same time, textile manufacturing was also established in Hawley. The Bellemonte Silk Mill began in the 1880s in the large bluestone building at the top of Welwood Avenue. The Silk Mill saw life later as the Sherman Underwear Mill and even later as an antique store. The huge building, which is known to be the largest bluestone building in the world, has more recently been fully restored as the Hawley Silk Mill, housing a hotel and spaces for shops, offices and classrooms for Lackawanna College.
The area around the lake is serviced by two public school districts: the Wallenpaupack Area School District and Western Wayne School District.
Wallenpaupack Area School District, which Pittsburgh Business Times ranked 9th in Overachieving School Districts in theState in 2013, is located right on the shores of Lake Wallenpaupack. This offers the students of the school unique opportunities to study the ecology of the lake and utilize the resources available at the PPL Environmental Learning Center next door. The district states that “to provide an educational environment that promotes excellence” is one of its main missions.
Western Wayne School District covers the Western edge of the lake. Western Wayne, a rural district with around 2,500 students, considers its mission to be “to develop, inspire and educate each student to be an adaptable, culturally aware, independent, life-long learner and a responsible citizen of a global society.”
The lake is situated on the border between Pike and Wayne Counties.
Pike County was the fastest growing county in Pennsylvania between 1990 and 2000. Known for its beautiful natural landscape, small heritage-rich towns and more than 125,000 acres of land available for use by the public for hiking, hunting, fishing and camping, Pike County continues to grow. Milford, the county seat, is known as the birthplace of the American Forest Preservation Movement. The availability of wildlife, clean water and fresh air combined with easy accessibility to major urban areas in New York and New Jersey make Pike County a great place to live or visit.
Wayne County is notable for its small towns, rolling countryside, and gorgeous views. The county seat in Honesdale is a quaint town with beautiful architecture and an abundant history. Wayne County is just 35 miles from the Scranton/Wilkes Barre area and within easy driving distance of New York City and Philadelphia. Abounding with beauty, privacy and charm, it is little wonder that Wayne County is the third fastest growing county in the state.
The outdoor opportunities on Lake Wallenpaupack range from quiet and peaceful to adventurous and thrilling. Indulge in a serene day of fishing from a boat or the shore. The lake has a wide array of abundant fish such as smallmouth and largemouth bass, rainbow trout, walleye, muskellunge, northern pike, lake bass, yellow perch and bluegill. Or you can choose an exciting and exhilarating experience; waterskiing, wakeboarding and jet skiing are all common activities on the lake during the warmer months. Whether you choose serenity or adventure, you can end your day around a campfire at one of several campgrounds around the lake. During the winter many enjoy ice skating and ice fishing.
The countryside in the area provides for even more pleasurable experiences. Enjoy a horseback ride through the wooded country, hit the slopes at Ski Big Bear at Masthope Mountain or hike along the beautiful Shohola Falls.
In Pike County, the lake is a part of Palmyra Township. In Wayne County, the lake is a part of Palmyra Township and Paupack Township. The town of Hawley is its own Borough.
Hawley is known for its antique shopping, with many shops located right downtown such as Miss Elly’s Antiques and Such on Church Street which is located in a building constructed in 1870.
The newly restored Hawley Silk Mill is home to interesting art exhibits and several locally owned shops, including the Mill Market which carries locally grown and made products, Harmony Presents – a performance arts venue, Fifth Avenue Spa and Sickler’s Bike Shop.
The Ritz Company Playhouse presents live theater shows, often performed by a local cast.
Events and Attractions
The Wally Lake Fest occurs at the end of the summer every year and features The Grand Boat Parade, an open market fair, art exhibits, the Battle of the Bands, and a Car Cruise.
The Hawley Winterfest is three days of winter fun all around the town of Hawley. A broad range of events include live music, art exhibits, wine and cheese tasting, and sleigh rides. Enjoy demonstrations of ice sculpture, lace making and glass blowing. There are house tours, church tours and even a beer tour. Throughout the festival enjoy delicious food, cookies and plenty of hot chocolate along the way.
The Ice Tee Tournament is a unique 9 hole golf tournament on the thick ice of Lake Wallenpaupack during the heart of winter.
The Pike-Wayne Earth Day Festival brings the community together at the PPL Environmental Learning Center in April for a day of fun activities for all ages. The free admission Festival spotlights and encourages the support of local conservation efforts.
Rhythm and Roots festival
The Dorflinger Glass Museum, exhibits a large collection of glass pieces produced by the Dorflinger Glass Company between 1851 and 1921. The museum is located on the Dorflinger Wildlife Sanctuary which strives to promote preservation of woodlands and open spaces in the area. The Wildflower Music Festival brings jazz, bluegrass and folk acts to the Sanctuary grounds every summer.
Costas Family Fun Park is an activity park where families can enjoy water slides, miniature golf, go-garts, laser tag, bumper boats, a golf driving range, batting cages, arcade, kids’ playhouse and ice cream.
Ice Works Factory Tour and Ice Harvest Museum in Lakeville offers the opportunity to see ice sculptures created before your very eyes as well as learn about the history of natural lake ice harvesting in the area.
Wallenpaupack Scenic Boat Tour
Delaware Highlands Conservancy Eagle Institute
Paupack Blueberry Farm
Claws N Paws
PPL Wallenpaupack Environmental Learning Center
Palmyra Township Beach