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Note: This is part of a history series on popular tourism activities in Transylvania County. A corresponding display is on the second floor of the Transylvania County Library May – July 2024.

People seek relaxation, comfort, and rest. Inns, boarding houses, and luxury lodging such as the Toxaway Inn and Franklin Hotel were popular “homes away from home” for summer visitors through the years.

Large hotels were social centers as well as a place to stay. They held afternoon teas, tennis matches, and dances. Lounges, lobbies, music rooms, and libraries created an oasis of all the amenities the wealthy clientele would desire. Edison and other high-profile tourists visited the region and popularized the destination for other wealthy visitors of the leisure class.

The Bryant House, run as a boarding house in the 1900s

Boarding houses were also a popular lodging type for visitors. These houses were often run like a type of bed and breakfast, where whole families could reserve a suite of rooms and have home-cooked meals included in their stay. These visitors might even return every year, forging friendships with the owners.

Motels and motor courts developed to respond to the road traveler as years passed. They distinguished themselves from a standard hotel by being in close proximity to major highways and roads, facilitating an efficient road trip.

1936 ad for the Bryant House

Camping is its own type of lodging that has brought visitors to Transylvania County. The novelty of sleeping and cooking outdoors is unique for those who live in more urban areas. Campsites provide some amenities of civilization, such as restrooms and running water. Backpacking is an even more rustic experience, giving one the opportunity to live off the land and experience nature more closely.

The many places that tourists can stay while visiting the mountains have been part of what has shaped the tourism industry for Transylvania County. This variety of lodging options has expanded and continues to serve the many visitors to Transylvania County.

Backpacking, 1998

Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. This article was written by Local History Librarian Laura Sperry. Sources available upon request. For more information, comments, or suggestions, contact NC Room staff at [email protected] or 828-884-1820. 

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