A Quick Tour of Mountain Lake Lodge (also known as Kellerman's Mountain Home from the movie Dirty Dancing)

Dear Henry,

A few days ago, Fish and I stumbled upon the most fabulous little mountain lodge in Pembroke, Virginia, and wouldn't you know, there is a story there.

In 1751, Christopher Gist of the Ohio Land Surveying Company came across Mountain Lake. It was owned by George and then Joseph Chambers before selling the property to Henley Chapman. The lake was then known as Salt Pond, and cattle were regularly salted there until after the Civil War.   The area also boasted of a stagecoach stop, and the first lodge was built in 1851.

 General Herman Haupt bought the property in 1857 and renamed it Mountain Lake. The lodge was still primarily used as a stagecoach and rail stop and provided accommodations to travelers rather than leisure seekers.

In 1900, the hotel was purchased by the Porterfield Family, who also began hosting music, dancing, and other entertainment for guests. The hotel briefly boasted of an all-female orchestra from 1922-1925. Guests usually arrived by stagecoach or train, but the hotel also created a "buzz wagon" to bring guests to the lodge. 

From 1928 until 1930, the hotel was converted to a girls-only camp. William Lewis Moody purchased the property in 1930.

After William Lewis Moody purchased the property, it was again converted to a hotel, and in 1936, the (still standing) native sandstone lodge was built.

The property passed to William L. Moody's daughter, Mary Moody Northern, in 1954, and in 1986, after Mary's death, the Mary Moody Northern Endowment was created to preserve the lodge and the surrounding area.

The hotel got a big boost in popularity in 1986 when Vestron Pictures began filming a movie called Dirty Dancing, about a young girl who falls in love with a dance instructor at an upscale mountain resort.  

The hotel is very much like it appears in the movie, and Fish and I had a lot of fun touring the grounds and finding the different shooting locations, although we were a little surprised that the lake had no water.  

The lakebed has an interesting geological feature. Fissures within the bed allow the lake to drain underground; during periods of low rainfall, the lake can empty out completely. The lake has been nearly empty since 2008, although conservation efforts are underway to restore the lake. Returning the lake to Dirty Dancing levels will take a few years of abundant rainfall.

There is a lot more to the hotel than movie nostalgia. The grounds host treetop ziplines, guided ATV tours, and an archery range. There are also artist studios and escape rooms, plus clay shooting. There are miles of trails around the property, and the food at the Harvest Restaurant is fantastic.

The rooms and cabins are luxurious, and Fish and I regret we hadn't scheduled more time there. You can either book rooms at the lodge itself or in one of the adjoining cabins and even do a Dirty Dancing-themed stay. 

You can check out my video tour on my YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/wLYIAezWuMI

Although the waiting list for "Baby's Cabin" is quite long.

xoxo a.d. elliott


a.d. elliott is a wanderer, writer, and photographer currently living in Salem, Virginia. 

In addition to the travel writings at www.takethebackroads.com, you can also read her book reviews at www.riteoffancy.com and US military biographies at www.everydaypatriot.com

Her online photography gallery can be found at shop.takethebackroads.com


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