Along the placid shores of Lake Wallenpaupack is Erhhardt's Waterfront Resort, offering good food and quality lodging. Its story stretches 87 years, from the days the Singer family operated Silver Birches, one of the early entrepreneurs capitalizing on the newly created shoreline as Lake Wallenpaupack was created.
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PALMYRA TWP. (PIKE) - Along the placid shores of Lake Wallenpaupack is Erhhardt's Waterfront Resort, offering good food and quality lodging. Its story stretches 87 years, from the days the Singer family operated Silver Birches, one of the early entrepreneurs capitalizing on the newly created shoreline as Lake Wallenpaupack was created.
That vision for tourism and a place to come and get away and take in the beauty of the surrounding lake and forests established the Lake Region of the Poconos. This 5,700 acre sheet of water and its surrounding land is often likened to a precious gem, cherished by thousands who have called this home or a place they want to be. The potential foreseen by the Singer family was further cultivated by the enterprising spirit of the Ehrhardt's, who came aboard 70 years ago, in 1943.
To this day it has been a family affair.
Eric Ehrhardt is president of the corporation; his brother Craig is vice-president. Brother Steve was also very active; he left three years ago and now works for The Dime Bank. Eric's wife Sue manages the front desk at Ehrhardt's; Craig's wife Gina also works at the front desk. Craig's children Raeann and Ryan both work in the business.
The Ehrhardt brothers were brought up with the business nurtured by their parents and grandparents.
There was a barn and farm house on the property back in 1926 when Pennsylvania Power & Light Inc. completed the vast lake for hydro-power. This was the Charles Singer farm, which dated to 1904. He raised pigs and chickens and made a modest living off the land. Few could imagine then what the broad and fertile valley of the Wallenpaupack would soon become.
With the lake completed, Charles son, George Singer and his wife Rachael took over the farm and in 1929 built an inn. Here was a lodging place with a majestic view, just off the dirt road. There were few others living along the wooded shores; fishermen quickly found the lake a haven, and were certainly glad for amenities where they could rest and have a decent meal.
The inn still stands today and is the centerpiece of Ehrhardt's lodging facilities; the barn was also converted into guest lodging.
Birch trees dominated the grounds; the Singers named their resort Silver Birches. A pestilence and ice storms killed off many of the birch trees, although some remain.
Rachael Singer's sister, Marjorie married George Ehrhardt in 1929. George worked at the Newfoundland Garage where he earned enough for a down payment to buy the Silver Birches Inn. In 1943, George and Marjorie Ehrhardt purchased the inn. Marjorie had been working at Pep's Inn -today the site of 1st Klas Marina- to learn the business.
Silver Birches was only a summer resort in the beginning. The first year - which was during World War II - they hosted 18 guests. One recent guest told of how their father would save up gas ration coupons during the war to be able to drive from Long Island to vacation at Ehrhardt's- still known as Silver Birches Inn.
George and Marjorie's son Jerry was 13 at the time.
Through a lot of hard work and careful savings, Silver Birches Inn grew, adding adjoining parcels.
When he was old enough, Jerry started helping his father build wooden rowboats to rent to customers, to go fishing. George also built new cottages. Marjorie cooked and cleaned for the guests.
Rates in those days were $15 a week, offering three meals a day, served at the inn.
Jerry married Alice Ferris in 1954, and continued to help at Silver Birches Inn. Their facility boasted one of the early television sets in the area, enjoyed by the guests out on the porch.
Their sons Eric, Stephen and Craig began working in the business.
In 1966 a motel was added. Silver Birches now had 21 rooms and cottages, all with private baths, air conditioning and TV. Family hospitality and excellent cooking were their specialties.
Their sons Eric, Stephen and Craig began working in the business. Craig left for a while and gained experience working with the Marriot chain; Stephen worked for the Ponderosa chain and Craig worked at the Sun Valley ski resort in Idaho.
In 1985, the Ehrhardt sons were back, and bought a restaurant right next door known as Marine Terrace. They changed the name to Ehrhardt's. In 1989, the lodging guests were sent to the restaurant for their meals rather than eating at the inn.
Their restaurant trade grew, and in 1989 they added multi-terrace dining. In 1995 they added the banquet center, able to seat 250 guests. Marjorie Ehrhardt, who was 96, attended the ribbon cutting.
"We've been very blessed," Eric Ehrhardt said. "The timing was just perfect. He said when they opened the restaurant there wasn't other restaurants in the area offering what they had with a casual theme. There were few banquet facilities.
Ehrhardt's, with its prime view of Lake Wallenpaupack, caught on as an attractive place for wedding receptions, weekday senior citizen bus trips and organization dinner meetings as well as reunions.
The bus trips are conducted with varied themes, a few of which are dinner theater, packaged casino days, High Seas Hi Jinx, Big Band Festival, Country Music Memories and holidays from St. Patrick's to Christmas. Anyone is welcome to join in by making a reservation.
They can get quite creative. The "Rockin' Renaissance" bus trip on August 22, for instance, is a new theme. It features a time machine experience bringing modern musicians back to the 6th Century where they introduce King Arthur's Court to rock in roll. Watch out for for some friendly medieval jousting, games of skill, a buffet fit for castle royals and much more.
For years Ehrhardt's combined a bus trip with the Stourbridge Line rail excursion from Honesdale, until the train rides were put on hold. Currently they combine a bus trip with a train ride from Steamtown National Park in the fall.
Restaurants and resorts have their challenges as they manage the flow of the economy. Ehrhardt's and other local businesses miss Tanglwood Ski Resort, which was only four miles away; people coming to ski would also seek out lodging and dining places. The ski resort closed in 2010. (Ski Big Bear at Masthope Mountain, however, continues to offer winter enjoyment, and aids local business.)
"There are plenty of challenges but it is also rewarding when you see people enjoy themselves and get back to who they really are," said Ehrhardt. It is very common to see guests arrive harried and stressed, and after a weekend lodging by the lake, they have been able to unwind and reconnect to one another, he observed.
They don't offer structured activities at Ehrhardt's. Instead, they like to allow their guests to explore the wonderful area in Wayne and Pike, with its many historic, cultural and recreational offerings. There are a lots of hiking trails in the area. Ideas are suggested. Ehrhardt said it is healthy for families to plan together what they want to do.
On the premises they do offer a pool, bonfires, paddle boats and canoes, and fishing (with a license) from their docks. Many people bring their boat.
At Ehrhardt's, the family atmosphere is evident with as many as five generations who have visited and passed on the experience to their children. On April 4, 2013, Ehrhardt's hosted a wedding party with families members who first started coming to Silver Birches in 1943.
Said a guest of 14 years, Linda Duddy, "You can tell it comes from the heart."
The resort on Route 507 includes three couples' suites, five cottages and 22 traditional rooms. The original Singer farmhouse is outfitted with two-bedroom family units.
There are approximately 50 year-round employees and up to 90 in the summer.
Asked how he attributes their success over these seven decades, Eric Ehrhardt considered, "We learned from our parents to be caring for people, to have a good work ethic, and treating people like family."
They have a web site at www.Ehrhardt.com. For more information, call (570)226-4388.
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