BY ROBERT L. BAKER
Shadowbrook Dairy, two miles east of Tunkhannock, had long been affiliated with his father, Nathaniel Stevens Sr., who died in 1939, and it is with the dairy that young Bob became a milkman in 1948 after service with the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Possibly in anticipation of U.S. Route 6 being re-routed in 1955 from a Clarks Summit-to-Lake Winola-to-Tunkhannock path to a new one via Factoryville and Bardwell that also just happened to go right by the dairy farm, Stevens built a Dairy Bar that was a hit from its opening on Sept. 22, 1955.
That fall, many of Shadowbrook’s cows were registered and certified by the Golden Guernsey trade association in Peterborough, N.H., as they had been for years.
The following January, however,Parent’s Magazine used the information to give Shadowbrook’s Golden Guernsey milk the magazine’s seal of approval, a nod that apparently boosted the Dairy Bar’s business.
Thelma VanFleet, 91 and now residing in Bardwell, was the Dairy Bar’s first waitress and recalled Stevens as a “wonderful man” to work for. She acknowledged that it was something then to have a place where you made your own ice cream and had a restaurant, too.
Her husband Eugene, now 87, began working for the Stevens family’s Shadowbrook dairy operation in 1938 and well beyond 1981 when many of the various Shadowbrook enterprises were sold to a partnership known as Endless Mountains Recreation Inc. (comprised of Arthur Sherwood, William Host and Roy Piper). The following year Ed Shaffer replaced Piper in a new partnership.
In 1949, Shadowbrook Dairy kept about 140 milking cows and bottled its own milk, and young Bob Stevens was a milkman going door-to-door with a milk delivery route.
In 1957, the cows were sold in Lancaster, Eugene recalled, and the Stevens family went into the country club business.
The family, however, continued to lend its name to a milk-bottling operation for dairy cows milked elsewhere. The bottling plant was on the premises north of the Dairy Bar, but eventually moved south of Route 6 where bottling was continued by Giant Foods until the early 1970s. That site is where Werks Plaza is located today.
In addition to the Dairy Bar, Stevens helped to bring about a bowling alley in 1958 and a 9-hole golf course in 1960 along with a restaurant and cocktail lounge.
In 1962, a miniature golf course was added along with nine more holes to make for a complete regulation 18-hole golf course.
A 20-room motel was added in 1966, but its opening was delayed by a fire on June 4 of that year.
A campground was opened south of Route 6 along the banks of the Tunkhannock Creek in 1971.
Stevens’ son Jack said his dad also was involved in two housing developments, selling lots west of Shadowbrook toward the brickyard, and also in an area behind the back nine of the golf course, where the family had built a home in 1961.
The VanFleets’ daughter, Charlotte Kingston, remembered the “boom days” for the Dairy Bar particularly in the summer when people would drive “from Scranton, Towanda and really just from all over” to get scoops of Shadowbrook’s trademark ice cream.
While some would just get a cone, Kingston recalled a special banana-split sundae with a base of five scoops of ice cream (three vanilla, one chocolate, one strawberry) that was a popular summer hit.
So, too, was an 18-hole golf course, the county’s first when it was completed in 1962. Today, the county boasts two other 18-hole courses: StoneHedge, also in Tunkhannock Township; and Emanon in Exeter Township.
Sherwood recalled this week that Stevens “was a friendly guy who wanted Shadowbrook to be a place where friends from all over could just have a good time.”
Following his sale of the motel, restaurant, dairy bar and golf course in 1981, Stevens and his wife retired to Florida, but returned frequently.
Did you know?
In 1955, when Shadowbrook’s Dairy Bar was opened, some 13,400 cows were milked daily in Wyoming County. In 2004, the latest year for which statistics are available, 3,900 cows were milked daily in the county.
According to Murray Fisk, who took over as Penn State’s Cooperative Extension Agent in Wyoming County in 1956 nut is now retired in, only two other milk bottling operations in the county have existed over the past half century. But he said that Atherholt’s in Tunkhannock and Engleman’s in Noxen have long since disappeared.
By the way, ice cream is still marketed under the Shadowbrook name, and is sold at Bogey’s Restaurant within the Shadowbrook Inn as well as during Tunkhannock’s Founders Day and during the Kiwanis Wyoming County Fair.