Once the railroad began running service to and from Asheville to the eastern portion of North Carolina, tourism to the area boomed and businesses sprang up around train depots to cater to the many tourists flocking to the area. As part of the effort to attract and accommodate them, in the 1880s private investors built the five-story Round Knob Hotel, pictured here, within one of many secluded coves looped by the railroad track. Above the lodge they dammed a large pond and piped water down the mountain to feed the manmade Andrews Geyser, built as a tourist attraction and memorial to those who died building the railroad. The geyser could be seen by railroad passengers seven times as the cars looped around the tracks.
Now, just a few hundred feet beyond where Andrews Geyser shoots water 80 feet into the air lies the historic Round Knob Lodge. Built in the 1930s by Southern Railroad executives as a rustic mountain retreat, the 6,500-square-foot lodge replaced the ritzy Round Knob Hotel, which burned in 1903.
On Oct. 28 and 29 during the Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center’s fifth annual Historic Haunted House Tours, the lodge will be the backdrop for the incredible story of North Carolina’s quest to lay track up the steep grade from Old Fort to Asheville.