The land where Nemacolin Woodlands Resort now sits has a long history dating back to 1740, when a rugged trail was carved through the Laurel Highlands between what is now Cumberland, Maryland and Brownsville, Pennsylvania. The trailblazer was native Delaware Indian, Chief Nemacolin. Assisted by frontiersman, Thomas Cresap, the trail was the most direct route from east to west. Later expanded by Colonel George Washington and General Edward Braddock during the French and Indian War, the trail eventually became known as the National Highway by Congress in the mid-1800s. Today, that road is called Route 40, the major mountain artery where Nemacolin Woodlands Resort now sits.
By the early 1900s, the Laurel Highlands became a popular and fashionable retreat for wealthy Pittsburgh industrialists and merchants. At the same time vacation retreats such as the Kaufman family’s Frank Lloyd Wright designed Fallingwater was being built, Nemacolin was also being minimally developed. During the 1930s, lots were established and offered for sale as summer homes and hunting retreats.
In 1949, Pittsburgh industrialist, Willard F. Rockwell (Rockwell International), purchased 60 acres in the Laurel Highlands. Over the next several years, he added land, and in 1968 established a private game reserve on what is now Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. This property was named Nemacolin Trails Hunting Reserve. The Rockwells invited friends and business associates to hunt and fish the 400-acre reserve, populated by silver fox, bear and white-tailed deer. A hunting lodge was constructed in 1968, designed by Rockwell’s friend and former college roommate, C.W. Balling, of nearby Fairchance, Pennsylvania. The 10-room Tudor lodge was quickly expanded to 33 rooms, which were all decorated by Mrs. Rockwell. The Lodge, together with a golf course, tennis court, airstrip, and lakes Louise and Carol were also added, while Beaver Creek was developed into the excellent trout stream it is today.
The property was sold in 1979 to Cordelia Mellon Scaife, and became an exclusive conference center. Three years later, the property returned to the Rockwell Family. Kent Rockwell, Willard’s son, purchased the conference center and opened it to the public. In the years immediately following, the Maples and Laurel Ponds townhouses and a number of private homes were established on the estate. Rockwell also added the first outdoor pool (now the Kidz Pool) and the resort’s first restaurant, The Golden Trout, which was located where the Club Room is today.
In 1987, Joseph A. Hardy, III, founder of 84 Lumber Company, purchased a large portion of the Nemacolin property at an auction (550 acres) – an auction he attended in the hopes of purchasing a few acres of woodlands near a lake or stream for his daughter, Maggie, who loved fishing. As Hardy recounts, “I left the auction without that piece of property for fishing because I bought the main parcel and was out of money.” Hardy and his daughter, Maggie, promptly set about transforming the property into its present state – a 2,000 acre world-class resort, a recipient of the prestigious Forbes Travel Guide and American Automobile Association (AAA) awards. In 2002, Hardy transferred full ownership of the resort to his daughter, Maggie Hardy Magerko, who still serves as President and Owner, and continues to grow the resort. Today, Nemacolin is proud home to Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond dining at Lautrec Restaurant and AAA Five-Diamond Lodging at Falling Rock Hotel.
The Nemacolin Woodlands Resort Timeline:
1987 – (first year of Hardy ownership) – The Tudor-style Lodge was expanded, and work on an elegant 68 room annex commenced, together with the Conference Center, which included the 200-seat Lecture Hall, and new lobbies. The Wine Cellar was opened.
1988 – The Woodlands Golf Academy was established featuring 22,000 square feet of practice greens and driving range. The Woodlands Spa opened. Soon afterward, Lake P.J. and the Panorama Pavilion were constructed.
1989 – The Lodge Annex was followed by the Links Townhomes. The Golden Trout was opened where Autumn is today. Scenic hikes, jogging trails, guided horseback riding, boating, fishing, croquet were added.
1990 – Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and the Hardy family celebrated the first Royal Reception charity fundraiser. The CaddyShack was opened in June.
1991 – The Grand Ballroom was added to the Conference Center.
1992 – The Tavern and the Equestrian Center were added. The CaddyShack received a massive expansion and the Fallingbrook miniature golf course next door opened.
1995 – Mystic Rock golf course is added and Mystic Mountain ski area at the Adventure Center opened. At the main hotel, the Paradise Pool, Kidz Club area, P.J.’s Ice Cream and Pizza Parlor, and Heritage Court Shoppes were added.
1996 – Fatbird was adopted as the resort’s new logo and mascot.
1997 – Nemacolin Woodlands Resort celebrated its 10th Anniversary of Hardy ownership. The elegant Chateau Lafayette hotel – including 124 rooms, the Cigar Bar, Hardy & Hayes Jewelers, and Lautrec fine-dining French restaurant – opened. The Marquis Ballroom was added.
1998 – Major renovation and expansion of the Woodlands Spa began.
1999 – The Shooting Academy opened, with 140 acres housing 30 stations, and a 7,000 square foot Lodge housing Orville’s restaurant. The renovated 32,000 square foot Woodlands Spa opened.
2000 – The Auto Toy Store opened, featuring a number of rare and collectible automobiles.
2001 – The Pride and Joy Airplane Hangar opened, featuring vintage airworthy aircraft.
2002 – Mr. Hardy’s daughter, Maggie Hardy Magerko, became the President and Owner of Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. The Off-Road Driving Academy opened at the Adventure Center featuring “The Rock” - a manmade off-road course meant to test the limits of the vehicle’s driving capabilities.
2003 – In May, The Learning Center opened on The Links golf course, and in September the PGA TOUR 84 Lumber Classic came to Mystic Rock course.
2004 – The Frank Lloyd Wright inspired boutique hotel, Falling Rock, opened hosting Aqueous restaurant, Amber Bar, and the Mystic Rock Pro-Shop. Mystic Rock golf course underwent extensive renovations. The Off-Road Driving Academy was expanded to include “The Crater” and trails, taking off-road driving into more natural surroundings.
2005 – The Woodlands Spa was expanded, adding 12 treatment rooms, a squash court and relocated Fitness Center. Horizon Point conference center opened adding to Falling Rock’s amenities. Dogsledding was added as a winter adventure offering.
2006 – Wildlife habitats were built, bringing a variety of exotic wildlife to the resort. The Golden Trout restaurant was renovated and transformed into Autumn. Conference Center was improved with the addition of the Nemacolin Business Center. The Hardy Girls’ Gym, an 8,400 square foot Olympic caliber facility, was constructed.
2007 – Marked the 20th Anniversary of Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Mr. Hardy’s 84th Birthday. Paige’s Beach was created as the home for the new Canoe Museum and horse stables, while The Equestrian Center becomes the new Wildlife Academy. A wine tasting classroom called the Academie du Vin and the Chateau Signature Boutique and Gallery opened in the former Nemacolin Art Galleries. ThemeWorks was developed to assist in creating memorable conferences and social events. Falling Rock hotel was awarded the coveted AAA Five-Diamond Award.
2008 – Falling Rock hotel retained Five-Diamond status for the second year, and Lautrec was the only new restaurant in the entire eastern half of the United States to be awarded the Five-Diamond rating, making Nemacolin one of only 21 resorts worldwide to offer both AAA Five-Diamond lodging and dining. The WildSide, a unique entertainment emporium, located in the former Woodlands World complex, opened featuring an eight lane bowling alley, 65 arcade games, sports bar and pool tables, indoor climbing wall, exotic bird habitat, miniature train display and private areas for children’s birthday parties and other social events.
2009 – Lautrec retained the coveted AAA Five-Diamond Award and acquired the Mobil (now Forbes Travel Guide) Five-Star Award, becoming one of only 14 restaurants in the country to have both ratings. Falling Rock hotel retained Five-Diamond status for the third year. Nemacolin Woodlands Resort became the first resort to be designated as a PET PROUD facility, and partnered with Nemacolin Wooflands, the area’s premier Pet Resort and Spa, which opened to provide lodging and spa services for pets. Additionally, a number of guest rooms were designated to accommodate guests traveling with dogs. In May, Kidz Spa opened to accommodate children ages 5 – 15 with age appropriate services. The Animal Care Center, a primary animal care hospital complete with rehabilitative facilities, opened near Nemacolin Wooflands in the old indoor equestrian arena. Millioke Meadows was established in November, making Nemacolin home to two sacred buffalo named Lightening and Thunder. Nemacolin joined social networking and establishes a presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
2010 – The Fatbird Flyer and Little Tykes Ropes Course opened at the Adventure Center. Nemacolin's Falling Rock hotel was honored with the prestigious Forbes Travel Guide Fifth Star. Lautrec also retained its Forbes Fifth Star, making Nemacolin one of only 11 resorts in the world to offer both Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond lodging and dining. The Magical Fashion World of Shells opened at the Canoe Museum as a sea shell exhibit featuring shells from around the world.
2011 – In April 2011, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board honored Nemacolin as the selected location for the final Category 3 Gaming License. In summer 2011, a fire-pit and outdoor recreation site was constructed in front of the Lodge. The Wildlife Academy added a new check-in station and arena for the Wild Animal Shows near the Adventure Center and Off-Road Driving Academy. Autumn Restaurant rebranded itself as a "Going Green" restaurant receiving a Two-Star Green Destination by GRA!, the Green Restaurant Association.
2012 - The Sundial Ski Lodge was destroyed by fire on February 12, 2012. Downhill Mountain Biking and Scenic Chairlift Rides are added as an amenity at the Adventure Center. The Panoramic Pavilion underwent renovations and now offers a new event space for Weddings and Private Parties. In July 2012, construction began on the new Sundial Lodge featuring a Restaurant and Bar, Outdoor Terraces, Retail Shop, Rental Shop, Bowling Lanes, Arcade Games and more. The WildSide closed on October 7, 2012 as construction began on the Lady Luck Nemacolin Casino, operated and managed by Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc. Much of "The WildSide" concept was relocated to the new Sundial Lodge which opened to guests on December 24, 2012.
2013 – Nemacolin’s newest amenity, Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin, opens it's doors July 1, 2013. The Nemacolin Experience department is established in June affording Nemacolin the ability to offer each guest a one-of-a-kind vacation experience, as well as the opportunity to purchase a Nemacolin Experience membership, which provides members exclusive Nemacolin amenity offerings, as well as one-year unlimited access to Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin. Nemacolin begins renovation phases; the Woodlands Spa received painting and furnishing upgrades, Lafayette gardens received new hardscaping and patio furniture, and the Presidential Suite was completely remodeled from floor to ceiling. Spa Voyage was renovated into the new Kidz Spa. A terrain park feature was added to Mystic Mountain slopes in December 2013.
2014 – Nemacolin embarks on a $30 million dollar resort-wide renovation, one of the largest projects in the history of the resort. Renovations continue through two more phases: Lodging - the rooms in the Chateau Lafayette and Lodge Annex will receive full renovations January through June, and Conventions & Meetings - spaces will receive renovations from October through February 2015. The Adventure Center upgrades the Fatbird Flyer Zip Line to the Fatbird SuperFlyer, dueling zip lines; opening summer 2014.