Byron King, our Pittsburgh correspondent, reminisces about Bedford Springs…
“Always liked Bedford Springs. A resort to presidents going far back into the early days of the republic (you know… ‘A republic, if you can keep it.’)
“My dad used to go there quite a bit. The Pennsylvania Bar Association hosted its annual meeting at Bedford Springs for many decades. And my dad used to do very well in the golf tournament. So he’d schmooze with the judges, and win at golf…you got a problem with that?
“Delightful mountain retreat, really. An escape from the bad air and worse sanitation of old east coast cities. A necessary water stop on the Pennsylvania Railroad. Giant old building, with many a fine room – those walls have some stories to tell, I’ll bet. And those elegant balconies? Ah, from there you can catch the cool breezes falling off the nearby hillsides.
“Time was unkind to the hotel, however. Oh, what a wreck and ruin the place was by the mid-1980s and through the 1990s. Time passed it by. It was built for a steam railway age, when horses and carriages would lug the guests and baggage up from the train station for lengthy stays. People would ‘summer at the Springs.’
“By the modern era, people didn’t need some old-fashioned mountain resort. They wanted to get into jet airplanes and fly off to some coastal port-city, thence to board giant cruise ships or the like. Take their vacations riding the waves in ‘don’t spill the drinks’ comfort. All while visiting some island du jour, where they speak English with funny accents.
“Really, who needed Bedford Springs so long as the world offered cheap credit and cheap energy?
“Still, someone must have realized that Bedford Springs is irreplaceable. They just don’t build ’em like that anymore. So the place underwent a superior renovation about 10 years back. Now it’s a luxury resort…beautiful job. But in a world of tightening credit? Hmmm…it’s a luxury resort, ‘if you can keep it,’ to coin a phrase.
“Thus Bedford Springs still has to compete hard in this tough economy. From what I know, it hosts many a wedding and a few business meetings – its advantage is that it lacks the federalized stigma of other resort locales like Las Vegas. But it has yet to make it in a big way into the public consciousness.
“Still, it’s right off the Pennsylvania Turnpike. So for the price of half a tank of gas, you can get there from Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, Washington or Baltimore…and within a three hour drive or so. So geographically, it’s a good place for an era of tighter credit and more expensive energy.
“Plus, it’s on the dry land of the Keystone State. It’s a fixture, with deep foundations and good old bones.
“When the Chinese have long since repossessed the encumbered airliners and cruise ships, they might have some trouble seizing and shipping home the likes of Bedford Springs.
Who knows? The American economy may yet dig in, and its last ditch will be along Route 30 near Bedford Springs. ‘This far shall you advance, oh you creditors and claimants, and no further.’
“Bedford Springs…what a great old piece of Americana.”
for Markets and Money