Historical Association of Tobyhanna Township

HATT | PO Box 2084 | Pocono Pines, PA 18350-2084


A Legacy of Tobyhanna Township

In 1923, organizers from metropolitan New York-New Jersey Lutheran churches envisioned a colony away from the city area, providing a place where their children could be exposed to a Christian way of life. On May 12, 1926, the Lutheran Conference and Camp Association acquired more than 1300 acres in Pocono Pines, Tobyhanna Township.

Lutherland became a reality.

This property already contained a 300-acre resort overlooking Lake Naomi, originally developed in 1902. Known as the Pocono Pines Assembly and Summer School, it was patterned after the Chautaugua religious educational movement. Financial challenges transitioned the property into commercial use between 1910 and 1920, first as the Pocono Pines Assembly Hotels and in 1920 as a vocational rehabilitation training center operated by the U.S. Government for World War I veterans.

The 13 original members of the development board of Lutherland were led by Mr. Henry A. Dahlen, a Lutheran church layperson and president/majority owner of Deslaurier Column Mould Company.

Success was immediate, and the decision was made for year-round operations. Rev. Herbert Gailmann became the first four-season manager. In 1929 Dr. Walter A. Maier, the Lutheran Hour speaker, became the noted summer Dean of Lutherland until the end of 1940. This installed a strong Lutheran feeling.

Lutherland expansion included a sprawling complex of two additional hotels. Forest Lodge (1927) and Pocohanne Lodge (1928) were interconnected with a new dining facility. The complex also included a large casino recreational center, a large auditorium and movie theater, a library, post office, administrative and maintenance buildings and rustic cabins. Other recreational opportunities included an indoor swimming pool, bowling alley, lounges and conference rooms.

With Beaver Creek flowing through the grounds, Lake Tamaqua was built. Surrounding the lake were three newly constructed camps: Camp Chickagami (boys), Camp Na-Wa-Kwa (girls) and Camp Beaverbrook (young adults). Each camp had individual housing, dining, worship and recreational facilities.

In addition, more 1,000 acres were designated for a cottage community, where building sites were leased for 99 years. Many fine cottages still exist in the community.

In the 1940s, financial challenges forced Lutherland to seek a wider clientele. The commercial name “Pocono Crest” was adopted to attract resort-based revenues. Then, as social and religious demands changed over the years, Lutheran-based Valparaiso University gained growing control in the early ’60s.

But as priorities for the college changed, Valparaiso sold Lutherland to Susque Corporation in 1969, which operated it as Pocono Crest resort until its bankruptcy in 1972, when Philadelphia National Bank assumed control.

The grand facilities of Lutherland met their final demise of demolition in the late ’70s and ’80s, when the property was sold to Deer Run Corp. in 1982 for development. Today the resort community of Pinecrest Lake Golf & Country Club occupies the original site.


Prepared from “Lutherland” by Ted Suttmeier (2007) and “Pocono Pines, Then & Now” by Frederick A. Lehrer (2010),
by Rick Bodenschatz, Historical Association of Tobyhanna Township.

Cottages of Lutherland
Images of Lutherland