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Biking Along the Delaware River

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Our Story

Brush up on how the Shawnee area was developed. How it came to be the host of elite PGA and Championship events. Discover the impact of it's legendary owners; CC Worthington, Fred Waring, and current owner Charlie Kirkwood. Get the inside scoop on the latest projects that embrace our new direction, "out with the old, and in with the older".

Shawnee History

How the Shawnee Area Developed

Long ago, Northeastern Pennsylvania was covered by glacial ice fields. One of the last glaciers, the Wisconsin Glacier, as it melted, carved the Delaware Water Gap and deposited fertile topsoil and the stones that create the identity of the Delaware River Valley. This massive glacial movement created the two large islands on either side of the village that is known today as Shawnee on Delaware.

The First Inhabitants

The fertile soil eventually attracted the first inhabitants of this area. There is archaeological evidence that Paleolithic man lived here at least 10,000 years ago, after the glacial period. The thick forests, temperate climate, substantial shad run, abundance of game, and natural fertility of the land made this a desirable place to live. A dig in the early 70’s, by the National Geographic Society, confirmed this fact through the carbon dating of arrowheads and other tools found in the area.

The Lenape Indians Settle the Area

Archeologists have established that the Lenape Indians dominated the Delaware Region perhaps as early as the 11th Century. The Lenapes were comprised of three main clans, the wolf, the turtle and the turkey clans. The Wolf clan settled in the Shawnee area and was also known as the Minsi tribe. Their main village was located on the New Jersey side of the river opposite modern day Shawnee on Delaware. The turtle and turkey clans settled elsewhere.

Shawnee Indians in the Area

In the late 17th century, large groups of the Shawnee or “Shawna” Indians migrated into Pennsylvania and lived on the Minisink lands east of the present day Stroudsburg. They stayed in this area until they were engaged in what would be later labeled “The Grasshopper War.” The war was apparently started between two Indian children, one a Minsi and the other Shawnee, who could not agree upon which had caught a grasshopper. The importance of this incident became so exaggerated, that the two tribes eventually met in battle. The result was that the Shawnee lost many warriors and fled from the valley.

Depuy Purchases 3,000 Acres

In 1727, Nicholas Depuy, a white settler from New Amsterdam, New York arrived in the area. The beauty of the natural surroundings, along with its tempting fertile soil, prompted him to purchase 3,000 acres from the Minsi on September 18, 1727. Nicholas Depuy’s original home was turned into a fort during the French and Indian War. From that time forward, the name of his home became Fort Depuy.

Village Receives the Name Shawnee

Disputes over actual ownership of the land caused William Penn to send Nicholas Scull to survey the land. When Nicholas Scull arrived, he must have assumed the Indians living in the area were the Shawnee. He wrote in his 1733 indenture for Manawalamink Island “the island is opposite the plantation where the said Nicholas Depuy now dwells, the Great Shawna Island (now called Depuy Island) in the Delaware River, over against Shawna Town.” These written words are how the village received the name Shawnee, instead of Minsi or Lenape.

The Village of Shawnee is Established

By 1740, the small village of Shawnee had begun to grow. Aaron Depuy operated a store and customers came from as far away as 50 miles. Depuy built a log church for services conducted by ministers of the Dutch Reformed Church. The church built in 1753, is now the Shawnee Presbyterian Church and its original cornerstone remains. The Shawnee river valley became part of a new township named after an early landowner, John Smith – called Smithfield.

The Rapid Growth of Shawnee Village

Beginning about 1793, there was a period of rapid population growth in Smithfield Township. With its reliance on agriculture, the Shawnee community relied heavily on the river as the primary transport for their products. A ferry that traveled between Depuy and Shawnee Islands to New Jersey had operated in this region since 1736. Durham boats transported products to towns and cities along the river. They could carry 2 tons on the upstream trip and the equivalent of 150 barrels of flour downstream. The village indeed was self-sufficient and in 1843 a post office was opened in Shawnee, PA and in 1853 a new red brick church was built on the foundation of the old stone church (this church still stands today).

C.C. Worthington Comes to Shawnee

In the late 1890’s a native New Yorker and successful business owner, Charles Campbell Worthington, took up summer residence in Shawnee. C.C. Worthington was an engineer and inventor by trade. Worthington had always been an outdoorsman and never enjoyed urban living. He decided to move to Shawnee where his summer home, Buckwood Park, was located.

Worthington Makes His Mark on Shawnee

On the Pennsylvania side in the village of Shawnee, Mr. Worthington built two parallel streets running from the river inland and named them Worthington and Minisink streets. These streets still exist today. Fort Depuy was renovated and converted into a home for his family. Worthington also began operating the ferry, now known as Walker’s Ferry, in 1903. Construction of Worthington Hall (home of the Shawnee Playhouse) began in 1904.

Worthington’s Dream Become Reality

In the early 1900’s, Mr. Worthington began to implement plans for building his dream, an exclusive resort hotel. Worthington decided to build a hotel of unique design with floors and walls made of 12 inch concrete reinforced with iron and disregarded the traditional construction of resort hotels in the area which were all made of wood and highly flammable.

What Made Worthington’s Resort Special

Worthington wanted to make this resort, named the Buckwood Inn, one of the most attractive establishments in the East. The buildings and grounds were especially designed to blend with the natural environment. The decor of the Inn reflected his discriminating taste and attention to detail. The food served in the dining room was produced fresh from gardens on the premises as well as nearby farms. There was a creamery, which provided fresh clean milk, cream and butter. The drinking water, of the purest quality, was gravity fed directly into each room from Sunfish Pond, located directly across the river in Buckwood Park (One can still hike to Sunfish Pond via the nearby Appalachian Trail).

Worthington’s Gem

Worthington hired orchestras to play every afternoon and Sunday evening. Guests could take the Ferry across the Delaware River to the New Jersey side, to visit Buckwood Park, a private park and wildlife sanctuary. In and around Shawnee Village, areas were set aside for target shooting, a small petting zoo, an aviary and a teahouse. But, the single most remarkable attraction was his meticulously planned golf course, which swiftly became known as the Gem of the East. Mr. Worthington hired the famous A.W. Tillinghast to design the 18-hole course on Shawnee Island.

Maintaining His Gem

Worthington realized that this course must be properly maintained and originally employed a Scotsman with a flock of sheep and dogs to keep the fairways trim. The experiment failed, turning his mind towards mechanical methods to solving the mowing problem, he invented the first commercially successful gang mower for maintaining putting surfaces and fairways. The response to his invention was so unexpectedly great that he founded the Shawnee Mower Factory and soon sold mowers all over the United States.

Making Golf History

In 1912, C.C. Worthington invited a group of professional golfers to be his guests at the Buckwood Inn. It is said, that this meeting led to the formation of the present day PGA and the first PGA Championships. Twenty-six years later, in 1938, Shawnee hosted the PGA Championships. In this match, Sam Snead, Shawnee’s Touring Pro at the time, lost to Paul Runyon. Throughout the early years of the Inn, many famous golfers played the now famous private island course.

Times They Are A Changing…and so does the Owner

After World War I, the great depression occurred and this brought changes to the vacation industry. Guests were no longer summer visitors who stayed for two or three month periods. With the wide use of the automobile, they became tourists who only stayed a week or two. The Inn was a seasonal operation, only open in the summer, and this meant the revenue generated was grossly inadequate for proper maintenance. The Inn fell into disrepair and the number of guest dwindled significantly. In 1943, a year before C.C. died at the age of 91, he finally allowed his family to sell the Inn. The Buckwood Inn was sold to Manawalamink, Inc, a corporation headed by famous choral master, Fred Waring. Mr. Waring renamed the resort and so it became the Shawnee Inn.

Fred Waring Embraces Shawnee Inn

Despite the fact that seasonal resorts seemed economically unviable, Fred Waring was determined to maintain Shawnee’s status as a seasonal, expensive and exclusive establishment. In order to promote his image, which is the most valuable asset for the Inn’s success, Waring centered all his musical activities on Shawnee Inn itself. He created, rehearsed and broadcasted his famous radio programs from the stage of Worthington Hall throughout the 1950’s and Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians became household words throughout the country.

Waring and Golf

Mr. Waring was an enthusiastic golfer. Shawnee was the best of both worlds for him as he could enjoy his favorite game, golf, and continue to be active in the entertainment world. Fred Waring had many celebrity friends that visited Shawnee including Bob Hope, Art Carney, George Goebel, Arnold Palmer, Lucille Ball, Ed Sullivan, Eddie Fisher, Perry Como, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, but none caught Waring’s enthusiasm for golf like Jackie Gleason. In 1959, Jackie attempted his first game of golf scoring a 143. However, only 15 months later, with practice and lessons, Jackie Gleason shot an amazing 75. It was during the time of Fred Waring’s ownership, that Bill Diddle, golf architect, helped turn Shawnee’s 18 holes into 27.

More Changes…and another Owner

The seasonal resort industry was changing further. The affluent Americans that once flocked to Shawnee, could now fly and vacation anywhere in the world. They could also see Fred Waring’s group in these locations as well as on television. Fred Waring realized he could no longer devote the time and energy necessary to keep the Inn operating according to his high standards. He decided to sell the Inn and The surrounding area to Karl Hope in 1974.

Shawnee Had A Brief, But Eventful Time with Hope

Mr. Hope, a real estate developer, was determined to turn the Inn into a profitable business. He experimented with a new concept, resort timesharing. In 1975 he opened Shawnee Village, the first timesharing development in the state and one of the first in the country. The timesharing experiment meant that Shawnee Inn, which had been mostly exclusive, was now open to a much wider segment of the population. To achieve year round status he hired Jean Claude Killy, a triple gold medal Olympic skier, to run the operations for Shawnee Mountain. In 1977, after completing Depuy and Fairway Villages, Mr. Hope sold his business interests to the current owners, Charles and Ginny Kirkwood and their family.

Kirkwood’s Make Changes to Brighten Shawnee’s Future

To make Shawnee a cost effective year-round resort, he contracted Dick Farley and “Swing’s the Thing” Golf School, built an indoor pool, miniature golf course, driving range and opened Shawnee River Adventures on the beautiful Delaware River. Improvements were also made at Shawnee Mountain with the addition of 100% snow making capabilities and the construction of Shawnee Place, a recreational water park for young children. In addition, the Kirkwood’s renovated Worthington Hall and began productions at what is now know as Shawnee Playhouse. Professional actors from New York and beyond were auditioned and performed shows May through December. They introduced weekly free concerts to the public on the front lawn of the Inn that continue to be a favorite activity at Shawnee.

Timesharing and the Inn Separate

In 1991, Shawnee divided into three separate companies: Shawnee Properties, responsible for managing and marketing the timesharing; Shawnee Mountain, responsible for managing the ski area; and the Inn. In 1994, the Kirkwoods renamed it The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort.

What the New Millennium Has Brought

The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort has adopted a new motto, “out with the old and in with the older.” What does that mean? By embracing our history, our world class golf and natural environment, we are carving out our future. A new level of service standards and a new direction in our marketing have set the stage for the success of the next generation at The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort. Our reinvigorated focus on golf includes the opening of the Tillinghast Golf Academy for professional instruction, our 6-hole Chip & Putt and Driving Range are both lit for night play, which shows our continued attention on the improvement of our 27-hole PGA Championship course. As stewards of this beautiful natural environment we call home, Shawnee has been recognized for its green efforts by the PMVB and the GPMCC. In or continuing effort to decrease our carbon footprint, we have added the Great Shawna Farm, an apiary, recycling programs, waste minimization efforts and stopped using chemicals in our housekeeping and laundry. To reinforce our commitment to the environment, we opened The Gem and Keystone Brewpub™, featuring locally sourced food and handcrafted ales and lagers made on premises. Our new brewery is known as ShawneeCraft® which has a simple vision; “true to nature, true to the craft.”™ The simplicity of exceptional service in a breathtaking setting is the vision of the resort; “To become the best resort in the Northeastern United States.”

The Future of Shawnee

The history of Shawnee is very important to us and we love to share it with our guests. We are reminded of our roots and what has been accomplished here. We pride ourselves on this history and we look forward to a future of ongoing excellence in world-class golf, fine entertainment, and a unique, memorable experience for visitors here in the beautiful village of Shawnee on Delaware, Pennsylvania.

Learn about the history of golf at The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort.