Paradise Falls Lutheran Association was formed in October 1922 by groups of Lutherans from New York and Pennsylvania on farmland donated by A. Raymond Raff of Philadelphia. Mr. Raff was a Lutheran in poor health who believed he was cured by the invigorating atmosphere of the Paradise Valley. In gratitude to God for restoring his health, he donated his farm to establish a Lutheran resort. Four additional tracts were purchased then and additional land was added to the resort in 1925 that included a half mile of Paradise Creek and the beautiful Paradise Falls.
A barn was remodeled into a community boarding house for association members to use while their cottages were being constructed. About 35 guests stayed at “Nestledown” that first summer. Accommodations were rustic, and meals were served in the adjacent farmhouse.
Within the first couple decades, cottages, roads, and bridges were constructed, water lines laid, and repairs were done on existing buildings. Tennis courts were added, and a picnic pavilion was built at the Falls.
The dream of a hotel on the hill complete with golf course was abandoned, but scores of women today have fond memories of the Girls’ Camp that operated for about 20 years in the woods above the Falls. The PFLA store/gift shop offered staples like bread and milk as well as with Pocono Mountains souvenirs. A dam was completed across Paradise Creek that provided a natural “swimming pool” named Lake Crawford after Bertha Crawford who donated the funds to complete the project.
Beginning in 1927, a weekly (in season) newsletter was published. “The Spray” still keeps everyone informed and up-to-date on association goings-on. Social directors led hikes, hayrides, square dances and other recreational activities beginning in 1934.
Hurricane Diane’s fury-in 1955-did not spare Paradise Falls. A disastrous flood leveled the disbanded Girls’ Camp and did extensive damage to the dam and beach, the picnic area at the Falls, and the grounds in general. The walking bridge above the falls was destroyed, as was the main bridge, which was quickly rebuilt.
Nestledown and Social Hall no longer provided room and board by the mid 1950s, and PF became a true “cottage colony”. Social activities reached their peak during the ’50s and ’60s, with the annual men’s fashion show, road rallies, weekly movies, and ever-popular hayrides and dances. In 1968, the store/gift shop was razed to make way for a new adult lounge, managed and partly funded by the Women’s Auxiliary.
The 1970s saw some cottagers drilling their own wells and winterizing their cottages, so they could call Paradise Falls “home” year-round. Changes at PF during the ’80s and ’90s reflected larger societal changes-as members aged, fewer children were found playing at the beach. But as the century changed, so too has the overall makeup of PFLA. As new generations make their way back to PF, children’s voices and activities have returned, and PF continues on in the circle of life.
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