|Old Buck Forest Hotel|
In her 1876 novel, The Land of the Sky, Christian
Reid promotes the mountains of western North Carolina for adventure travelers. Reid is speaking of the French Broad and
Little River valleys when she says, “Then we have our first glimpse of the
magic beauty which will some day make Transylvania famous!”
Her adventurers continue on to spend time at
the Buck Forest Hotel, exploring the surrounding forests and waterfalls by day
and joining in with the evening entertainment and dances.
The hotel was described as a large two-story building, with
a long piazza in front and shade-trees drooping all around. It could accommodate “several score persons”
and had a big hall for dances.
Around 1830 Micajah Smith Thomas began buying property along
the Little River including Bridal Veil Falls, High Falls, Triple Falls and
miles of good fishing streams. He had
several thousand acres that offered excellent hunting as well. Thomas and his wife, Anna Caroline Hightower
Thomas, opened the Cedar Mountain Hotel in the early 1850s.
The 1854-55 General Assembly of the State of North Carolina
authorized Thomas, along with Leander S. Gash, David Shuford, Perry Orr and
Charles Slagle to lay out a turnpike road through the Little River valley passed
Shuford’s bridge on the French Broad River and Thomas’ cedar mountain
house. This provided access from the
valley through the mountains to Jones Gap Road and Caesar’s Head.
The first Cedar Mountain post office was located in the
hotel. The Thomas’s son, Franklin L.D.
Thomas was the first postmaster from 1856 to about 1865. After the Civil War the post office relocated
four miles to the south and took the name of Cedar Mountain with it. The area surrounding the Thomas’ hotel then
became known as Buck Forest. Buck Forest
had a post office from 1889-1901.
During the Civil War Micajah Thomas was attacked at the hotel
by members of Kirk’s Raiders. Kirk’s
Raiders was a mounted infantry regiment for the Union made up of mostly North
Carolina and Tennessee volunteers who were notorious for their violent raids. As a result of the attack Micajah was blind
for the remainder of his life. Soon
after this Micajah and Anna went to live with one of their sons.
Around 1870 they sold the hotel and property to Joe McD
“Uncle Joe” Carson who operated it as the Buck Forest Hotel for many
years. By the early 1900s changes had
left the hotel off the beaten path and it had fallen into ruin and was
Carson sold the property to Col. Frank Coxe of Asheville. After Coxe’s death his descendents added to
the property for a total of 5000-6000 acres.
In 1941 Frank Coxe, grandson of Col. Frank Coxe, organized the Buck
Forest Club. It was an exclusive club
permitting hunting and fishing on the property to its members. Paul F. Roberts built a lodge for the club
near High Falls around 1940. It was torn
down in the 1970s.
The club leased the property from the Coxe estate until
April 1956. In September 1956 E. I. DuPont purchased the Coxe property, plus
5411 in Henderson County known as the Guion Farm to build the first silicon
plant in the United States.
The property, including the Thomas family cemetery is now part
of the DuPont State Forest.
and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina
Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit
the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about
our history and see additional photographs.
For more information, comments or suggestions contact Marcy at [email protected] or 828-884-3151 X242.