Some feel Mountain Lake should be called “Mountain Pond” or perhaps “Disappearing Lake” because the Giles County landmark goes into a seasonal disappearing act with drops in water levels that get increasingly severe.
The lakefront once came to the dock (above) but now is way off in the distance because of level of the lake dropped from leakage and dry conditions over the past few years.
The scene today is a far cry from 1987 when Hollywood came to the resort to film Dirty Dancing with Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey and Jerry Orbach. Of course, in true Hollywood tradition, they put the resort in the Catskills, not Virginia. Swayze’s death from cancer generated some interest in visiting the area but those who come expecting to find a lake find a field where the lake used to be. Some will be at the lake in November for two Patrick Swayze Memorial Weekends.
From what was once a gazebo near the lakefront (right), you can barely see what remains of the lake in the distance but the level today is better than last year when the water all but disappeared. Heavy rains earlier this year brought the water level back somewhat but nowhere near the levels of the lake’s glory years.
Lake or not, visitors still come to Mountain Lake Lodge (below) and the dining room was fill of diners for Sunday brunch.
“It’s a shame to see what has happened to the lake,” said Ezra Lukins, a West Virginian who drives over for Sunday lunch several times a year.
“It’s kinda like America,” Lukins noted. “It sure ain’t what it used to be.”