Biltmore on the route

Taking the Train: Biltmore

Buncombe County
Altitude: 2,005 feet
Population: 500

Text excerpted from The Western North Carolina Section at a Glance, 1912 (p. 16-17):
All Souls Church, pictured above, became a prominent landmark in
Biltmore. In the close-up view, postmarked 1909, the street sign in
front of the church reads "Angle Street."

"This is the railroad station of the estate - 'Biltmore' - owned by Mr. George Vanderbilt from which the town takes its name. Originally, it practically was established by Mr. Vanderbilt. Here he constructed a number of pleasant and conveniently arranged cottages for the people who worked on his estate. Despite its close proximity to Asheville, it has developed apace. It is the location of one of the largest nurseries in the United States and has several veneer, furniture, and box factories. Surrounding it there are immense truck and dairy farms, the county being specially adapted to these agricultural industries. The town is located on the beautiful Swannanoa River, and from all parts of it magnificent views of the surrounding mountains may be obtained. From the hills South of Biltmore fine glimpses of Clingman’s Peak and of the summits of the Black Mountains are to be had. Six miles distant the sharp pyramid of Big Cedar pierces the sky, while Graybeard, Bridges Mountain, Bushy Mountain, and Pisgah are in plain view. On the last named Mr. Vanderbilt has established a fine hunting lodge."

"Starts Homespun Fad: Mrs. George Vanderbilt Wears $25 Gown Made by Mountain Women

Asheville, May 17. – Mrs. George W. Vanderbilt has started a “homespun” fad by appearing in a homespun gown, a bright yellow, which she delights in telling cost her only $25, and was made by a mountain woman near Biltmore. It has been through Mrs. Vanderbilt’s patronage that there has been a revival of the almost lost art of hand spinning and weaving among the mountain women. Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt are to furnish a room in the North Carolina Building at Jamestown of Biltmore exhibits."

- New York Times, May 18, 1907

The image above shows a tree lined street scene identified as Swan
Street in Biltmore. All Souls Church is visible to the center left, and
Swan Street and Angle Street intersected at the church. This card
was postmarked September 26, 1911, from Asheville, N.C.

" 'Biltmore,' Mr. Vanderbilt’s estate, is regarded as the finest residential property in the United States. It comprises over a hundred thousand acres in forest and preserves, twelve thousand acres under cultivation in its park, “Pink Beds”; and nearly twenty acres in gardens and terraces. The mansion, built in 1892, is an exquisite piece of French chateau architecture, in gray stone, with Gothic roof of slate and elaborately carved chimneys. On three days of each week visitors are permitted to drive over this famed place, where thirty miles of fine roadways, with marvelous landscapes and beautiful vistas, may be enjoyed. The great forest which covers much of the estate contains about seventy miles of wagon roads and more than two hundred and sixty-five miles of trails The fence surrounding the preserve is more than three hundred miles in length."

Biltmore in the 1890s

To the West: Asheville directions  

Biltmore in the 1930s

Return to the Southern Railway Map for the 1910s

Text excerpted from 1912 travel guide, The Western North Carolina Section at a Glance. Issued by the Passenger Traffic Department, Southern Railway, Premier Carrier of the South, Washington, D.C., 1912.

Sources & Readings

  • Greenberg, Sue and Jan Kahn. Asheville: A Postcard History. Dover, N.H.: Arcadia, 1997.
  • McDaniel, Douglas Stuart. Asheville. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Pub., 2004.
  • Rickman, Ellen Erwin. Biltmore Estate. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Pub., 2005.
  • Swaim, Douglas, ed. Cabins & Castles: The History & Architecture of Buncombe County, North Carolina. City of Asheville, County of Buncombe: Division of Archives and History, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 1981.
  • Ward, Doris Cline, ed., Charles D. Biddix, associate ed. The Heritage of Old Buncombe County. Asheville, N.C.: Old Buncombe County Genealogical Society, 1981.