Tourism, Industry and Mining


With the railroad came tourists and new residents. Summer residents and tourists began flocking to the county. The town of Hendersonville grew into a tourist resort. As tourists began arriving, inns and hotels were built. By 1900, there were five hotels in Hendersonville.
The first hotel in town, formed prior to the Civil War, was the Ripley House (Valentine Ripley) at the corner of Main Street and Second Avenue West. Dr. and Mayor Thomas A. Allen bought the hotel some time after the Civil War. Columbus Mills Pace bought it in 1900. Either Allen or Pace changed the name to the Globe Hotel. It was sold again and the name was changed to the Imperial in 1910. By 1912, it was the Gates Hotel. Within a short time it was bought again and named the St. John’s Hotel. It was three stories high, had 150 rooms, and a 150 ft. frontage on Main Street. It caught on fire in 1915 and burnt. This was the biggest, most spectacular fire in the county’s history. Arson was suspected, but not proven. The blocks surrounding the fire were evacuated. Asheville firemen came by railroad to help. A picture of the hotel, along with a picture of the Kentucky Home, may be viewed at
The Wayside Inn was built about 1890 on a hill near the railroad depot on Seventh Avenue East. This inn was located between today’s Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (U.S. 64 East, Sixth Avenue East) at the approximate location where a hardware store is located today. This early hotel burned about 1900.
The Wheeler Hotel was built in 1895. The hotel was located off today’s North Main Street where Bruce Drysdale Elementary School is located today. The hotel had 100 rooms and later a dance pavilion. The dance pavilion burned in 1927 and the hotel burned in 1930.
In 1898 the Anderson Boarding House opened on North Main Street. This later became known as the Waverly Inn. This early hotel is still standing today and is a bed and breakfast.
The Kentucky Home opened by the turn of the century. This hotel was located at the corner of Church Street and Fourth Avenue West, where a parking lot is located today. The old hotel was torn down for a parking lot in the 1960s. For another view of the Kentucky Home visit
There was still the Farmer’s Inn in Flat Rock (Woodfield Inn).
During the 1880s the Edney Inn was built between Bat Cave and Edneyville (Edney Inn Road). It burned, possibly in the 1930s.
About 1886, the Fletcher Inn opened in Fletcher by Dr. George Fletcher at the intersection of U.S. 25 and Howard Gap Road, near the train tracks.
In 1890, the Hawley Hotel opened in Dana with an observation tower. Old photographs were found of this early hotel.
In 1892 Thomas Turner opened the Esmeralda Inn in Bat Cave. The original structure burnt in 1917 and the inn was re-built.
In 1900 the Lyda family in Edneyville opened the Chicasaw Inn. This early hotel also later burned.
A.F. Baker arrived in Hendersonville with the influx of tourists and new residents. In 1884 he opened the first photographic studio, Baker’s London Art Gallery, at the location of the first building in the city, later known as the Shepherd, then Drake Store. This studio later became known as the Baker-Barber Studio and moved farther down Main Street.
In 1891 the town granted approval to build the Hendersonville Town Hall and Opera House. The building was located at today’s  422 N. Main Street. It stood at this location from 1893 to 1925, when it was deemed unsafe by the state and ordered torn down. Sometime in the 1930s J.C. Penney built a store on the site. It was Penney’s until the store moved to the Blue Ridge Mall in the late 1970s or early 1980s.
In 1899 Justus Drug Store installed the first soda fountain in Hendersonville. The soda fountain was only open in the summer. This early store is now Mike’s on Main at Main Street and Fourth Avenue West.

 Industry and Mining

The railroad also spurred industrial development, as goods were more easily transported in and out of the county.
There was a boom in the timber industry before the train ever arrived, as lumber mills, such as the Jones Lumber Mill in Big Hungry, began supplying cross-ties to the railroad. The Jones Lumber Mill was furnishing cross-ties until the early 1900s. Dr. George Fletcher also sold cross-ties, along with the Moore family and many others who owned timber land, especially those who owned land in what is today Pisgah National Forest. In the 1890s George Vanderbilt began buying extensive acreage, including much forest land in Mills River. He built the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, but also bought extensive acreage in Henderson and Transylvania counties that is now Pisgah National Forest. The Vanderbilt family owned extensive railroad holdings in the Northeast (NY Central Railroad, Grand Central Station, and rail lines in New York City). They could now furnish their own cross-ties, etc. By 1900 local lumbermen were working for the Vanderbilt family.
In 1883 W.E. Hidden leased the Freeman (Meredith Freeman) zircon mine in Tuxedo. The Freemans had mined zircon since 1869. Levi Jones also discovered zircon on his property (now under Lake Summit). Hidden and inventor Thomas Edison bought the Levi Jones mine in Zirconia. Edison later made a visit to the county to view the zircon mines. Zircons were used in the first electric lights.
“The best zircon localities in North Carolina are on the Old Meredith Freeman estate, and the Jones estate, Green River, Henderson County. It was leased for 25 years by Gen. Thomas L. Clingman, who, as early as 1869, mined 1,000 pounds of zircon, and during that whole period never lost faith in the incandescent proper­ties of zirconia; but when these were finally proved and acknowledged, through some legal difficulties General Clingman had forfeited his leases, and hence failed to reap his reward.” – Book “History of Gems in N.C.” A gas lamp was invented, when mixed with zircons “heats white hot and glows like an electric light.” By the time Edison was using zircons in his new invention, Hamilton G. Ewart and Maron C. Toms had purchased rights to the Freeman mine from Clingman.
“Zircon is a fairly common compound of a comparatively rare metal. It is practically the only ore of the metal zirconium. It is found mainly in crystals and as gravel. One of the best-known deposits of zircon is that at Zirconia in Henderson County, North Carolina, U.S.A., where there is a vein of kaolinized zircon-bearing pegmatite 100 feet wide, extending over a length of 15 miles. The zircon crystals are up to two inches or so in length, and have been obtained in large quantities from this vein.”
From state geology department: “Three of these localities are, the Freeman mine, 0.5 mile west of Tuxedo on SR 1118 (HENDE-001); the Jones mine, 0.5 mile east of Tuxedo on SR 1856 (HENDE-002); and the Pace mine, 1.8 miles southwest of Tuxedo (HENDE-003).”
In 1887 Mount Echo Brand Corn Whiskey was patented and sold throughout the region. Many families, if not most, made whiskey. As long as one paid the federal taxes this was not illegal prior to 1920. Whiskey making (moonshine) was counted on the industrial schedules. Echo Mountain where the patented whiskey was made is today in and near Laurel Park.
In 1893 William Balfour Troy opened a granite quarry in today’s Balfour community. There were earlier granite quarries in the county. This one became the most profitable and best known.
Lime was still produced at the limestone quarry near Fletcher.