Altitude: 2,857 feet
The Turnpike Hotel, located near the county line between Haywood and Buncombe counties, four miles east of Canton, was featured in this advertisement from Thomas H. Lindsey’s “Lindsey’s Guide Book to Western North Carolina,” published in 1890. The full caption announced that the hotel was, “A Delightful Home in the Heart of the Alleghanies, Where Health comes back to the weary, and Rest to the Sweet.” In its description of the hotel, the advertisement proclaimed that, “The building is new and well furnished. Large and well ventilated. Telegraph and Post Office in the house.” The ad also asserted that, “This place is especially recommended by physicians for all [ki]nds of lung troubles, on account of the dry and bracing atmosphere, which is free from dust and poisonous germs.”
In 1883 Wilbur G. Zeigler and Ben S. Grosscup provided a description of the Turnpike Hotel and an endearing commentary on its proprietor, John C. Smathers, in their book The Heart of the Alleghanies (pp. 345 – 346):
“Sixteen miles west of Asheville is a model country hotel, at Turnpike. For long years it was the noonday stopping place for the stages on the way from Asheville to Waynesville. Since the railroad began operation it has become a station, and when we last came through from the West it was the breakfast place for the passengers. It is situated at the head of Hominy valley, amid pleasant mountain surroundings. John C. Smathers, the genial, rotund proprietor, will, with his pleasant wife and daughters, render the tourist’s stay so agreeable that the intended week of sojourn here may be lengthened into a month. John C. is a representative country man. What place he actually fills in the small settlement of Turnpike, can be best illustrated by giving the reported cross-examination which he underwent one day at the hands of an inquisitive traveler:
“`Mr. Smathers,’ said the traveler, `are you the proprietor of this hotel?’
“`Who is the postmaster here?’
“`Who keeps the store?’
“`Who runs the blacksmith shop?’
“`How about the mill?
“`Well, I have something of a farm, let me tell you.’”
This page from the hotel register of the Penland House at Pigeon River was dated June 12 and 13, 1883. The proprietor, F.A. Luck, later would be the business manager of the Tuckaseige Democrat newspaper in Sylva, N.C. The hotel drew a clientele from a variety of areas. Included are individuals who listed their residence as South Carolina and Tennessee as well as a number of guests who came from communities in western North Carolina, such as Webster and Quallatown. One signature is that of Daniel D. Davies of Cullowhee, N.C. Davies, who was born in Wales, moved to western North Carolina to engage in mining operations. He was on the first board of trustees for the Cullowhee Academy, a forerunner of the institution that grew into Western Carolina University. The register contains a typographic error, listing the hotel as the "Peland" rather than the Penland House.
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