Gem mining continued for several years while industrialist from the north began to discover Western North Carolina. These industrialists included George Vanderbilt who bought 3000 acres (now expanded to 125,000 acres) in Asheville and created one of the world’s largest private homes – The Biltmore House.
Day trips to The Biltmore House are encouraged and discounted tickets are available at the Sapphire Valley Community Center.
E.H. Jennings, another visionary from the north preferred the higher ground in the mountains of Western North Carolina. In the 1890’s, Jennings and a group of stockholders formed the Toxaway Company and purchased 30,000 acres in Transylvania and Jackson Counties.
The original railroad to service this area was the Hendersonville & Brevard that ran to Brevard, NC. A man named J Frances Hayes bought the line in a court sale and renamed it the Transylvania Railroad in 1900. He then expanded it from Brevard some ten miles to "Toxaway" which today is Rosman. The Toxaway Company, which Hayes owned in part, built a paved road to Lake Toxaway. (Later 'Toxaway' became Eastatoe and in 1905, was named Rosman.)
In 1905, the Southern Railway leased the Transylvania RR and operated the trains all the way to Lake Toxaway when additional rail was installed. The growth of the Sapphire Valley area would not have been possible without the rail line. Soon, these trains were carrying passengers to 5 new Inns built by the Toxaway Company. The Inns included The Toxaway Inn, Sapphire Inn, The Lodge, the Franklin Hotel, and Fairfield Inn in Sapphire Valley.
Southern Railway actual had daily service arriving at the Lake Toxaway Train Station. From the station it was an 8 mile horse and bugging ride to Sapphire Inn (on what is today Whisper Lake) and 11 miles to Fairfield Inn on Fairfield Lake. This ride could take up to 3 hours!
In addition to having some of the first rail services in the mountains of Western North Carolina, the three lakes built by The Lake Toxaway Company - Lake Toxaway, Sapphire Lake and Fairfield Lake - are some of the first man made lakes in the Appalachians.