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Old Fort NC

Old Fort North Carolina
“Gateway to the Blue Ridge”

Town of Old Fort NC

Old Fort North Carolina located in McDowell County at the base of the Black Mountains, is called the gateway to the west, towards Asheville NC. This small village has attractions such as the Visitor Center near the railroad tracks at the old depot; the Arrowhead Gallery and Studios featuring arts and crafts, the Old Fort Arrowhead Monument made from Granite to honor the Catawba and Cherokee Indians; the Andrews Geyser which shoots up to 80 feet high; and the Mountain Gateway Museum exhibiting the mountain lifestyle. In addition, the village of Old Fort hosts the Pioneer Day Festival, the NC Gold Festival, and the Railroad Days.

History of Old Fort NC

The first Spanish explorer probably arrived in the 1500s, followed in the early 1700s by pioneers who established a fort. By the mid 1700s, the settlement around the stockade had become the westernmost outpost of Colonial civilization. George Davidson owned old Fort Plantation the area where the fort stood. By 1869, the railroad reached as far as the Old Fort Plantation and a hotel and depot were built. In 1871 a wealthy union soldier Sanborn Worthen bought the Old Fort Plantation hoping the railroad would build the yards there and make him rich. He named the 2200-acre plantation Catawba Ville. But as fortune would have it the railroad yards were built 100 miles to the east and he lost his investment. The State General Assembly changed the town’s name to Old Fort shortly afterwards.
In 1875 work continued on the railroad to extend it to Asheville, and in March 1879 the rail entered Buncombe County through the Swannanoa Tunnel. The busy little town of Old Fort became the home of a resort hotel and a geyser, a manmade tourist attraction powered by a nearby spring. The hotel, built in 1879 a little too close to the railroad, burned in 1903. A few years later in 1911, a wealthy New Yorker rescued the geyser, he bought the land around it, moved it across the street, redesigned it and named it in honor of Col. A.B. Andrews, an engineer and the first president of the Western North Carolina Railroad. Today, the geyser is in the middle of a five-sided concrete pool and belongs to the town. The large green space around it offers shade and tables for picnicking.

  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Gem Mining
  • Davidson’s Fort
  • Pioneer Day
  • NC Gold Festival
  • Octoberfest
  • Andrews Geyser
  • Cawtawba Falls

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