Asheville, NC   Leave a comment

Day 37-40

All I can say about Asheville is WOW!

It felt great driving into the Mountain area, like through the Green River Gorge.

Adventure Caravans added a LaZoom Trolley Tour. We have never been on one and had no idea what to expect. Meet Ermine Hooch, our tour guide

Believe it or not, she was quite informative about the area. Asheville was one of the very few cities that did not take federal money during the depression, which made it a longer process for them to get back on their feet. They discovered tourism was the way to go.

Along the way, we met a nun and of course she had the infamous ruler. We all know about the ruler!

We also came across a bee and a beer man. Not sure which brewery he came from, but they sure have a lot of local breweries around town.

Seems like everyone likes to hang on the bars in the trolley.

We finished our evening with a loaded baked potato and ice cream social. I can’t believe I forgot to take pictures.

From our campground, we could see the Biltmore Estate off in a distance.

The Inn is to the left, the Antler Hill Village is in the middle and the Biltmore House is to the right.

The Biltmore House and Gardens was beyond belief. At 16 Cornelius Vanderbilt borrowed $100 from his mother in order to build a ferry business. He turned it into $100 million in 50 years. William Henry Vanderbilt doubled the family’s assets as a financier. William’s son, George Vanderbilt, built the Biltmore House, more or less competing with other relatives, for entertaining friends and family. The house was built at a time when it was unusual to have indoor plumbing and lights, yet it had 43 bathrooms and an indoor swimming pool with underwater lighting. It also had 90 bedrooms, an exercise room, bowling alley (where the servants reset the pins). The 250 room house is 135,000 sq. ft.!!!!

This year they allowed us to take photos (without flash) inside!

George opened the Biltmore House in 1895, married Edith in 1898, and had their only child, Cornelia, in 1900. George died at the early age of 51 leaving Edith to run the estate. In the 1920s she sold off 90,000 acres to the government.

Bill and I both saw our daughter-in-law, Jenn, in the young photos of Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil. The Biltmore estate was opened to the public in 1930 in order to bring tourism to Asheville during the depression and raise money to preserve the estate.

Today Biltmore remains a family business, owned by Vanderbilt grandson, William Cecil. His son, William Cecil, Jr. is the CEO and his daughter, Diana, is vice chair of the board of directors. There are 1,800 employees that help to preserve the estate.

The estate is comprised of much more than the house, which is about 2 miles of road to get to the house. The estate is approximately 8,000 acres. Within the estate are beautiful gardens with a conservatory. The gardens were designed by Frederick Olmsted, the designer of Central Park.

A short drive will take you to the Antler Village and Winery. Below, bottom, right is the Winery’s library containing hundreds of wine bottles dating back to the birth of the Winery in the 1970s. In the library are preserved samples of each vintage.

In its day, the estate was a working estate. A dairy, market garden, as well as sheep, poultry and pig farm producing food for the Vanderbilts and their guests. Biltmore also sold products in the community, such as milk, eggs, honey, meat, fruits and vegetables.

Our farewell dinner was held at Tupelos Honey Café, where we shared a wonderful meal, our most memorable and funniest stories of our trip.

Poor Mary Ann had to sing for her supper. But we made up for it with dessert.

What a great group! We hope to travel with many of you in the future.


Posted April 13, 2017 by carolnbill in Travel

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