Alas, the Historic Fairfield Inn no longer sits on it’s regal throne over-looking Lake Fairfield. Now only a memory, but a memory that spans over a hundred years.
In the late 1800’s, the Toxaway Company purchased thousands of acres of wilderness in Jackson and Transylvania counties, and built a railroad from Hendersonville to Toxaway, midway between Rosman and Sapphire Valley, to carry the felled timber to their sawmill and the lumber to the shipping points. But suddenly they saw more than just trees for lumber, they saw a land of untouched beauty and decided to create a resort area to serve Eastern America, dubbing this area “The Switzerland of the South”.
Nearing the end of the 19th Century, the Georgetown Gold Mine started it's operation in the area where Fairfield Lake currently resides. The Sapphire Valley Area was the nation's leading gold producing area until the California Gold Rush of '49 (1849). Folks seeking the green gold of the virgin forests of the Sapphire Country ended up creating a new resort area. The Toxaway Company built hotels and lakes at three locations. Their crowning achievement was the Fairfield Inn on Lake Fairfield.
Three stories with 57 high-ceiling guest rooms, a breezy veranda with dozens of rocking chairs, brass and woodwork that would make a castle blush, a regal sweeping red velvet stairway, a glorious view from every window, a kitchen that served excellent food-including mountain trout “that slept in the river last night”-and a relaxed atmosphere, all reminiscent of a Swiss Alpine Lodge. Fairfield Inn was a tribute to persistence and skill. In “the old days”, folks would come by train to Toxaway, and then take a 4 or 6 seater surrey ( a four-wheel, horse-drawn pleasure carriage ) to Fairfield Inn. Back then most folks came in and stayed all summer, keeping it pretty well full most of the time.
The rates ran $5 a day, and included 3 meals!
When Fairfield Inn opened it's doors in 1896, Grover Cleveland was President of the United States, Queen Victoria sat on the throne of England, James "Gentleman Jim" Corbeu was the heavy-weight boxing champion, Mark Twain was America's most popular writer, the song of the year was "There'll be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight", and the Klondike Gold Rush was on!
Some years after the Civil War, a mining village was built by a fellow named George at what is now the head of Lake Fairfield. They named it Georgetown. At the foot of Bald Rock Mountain you can still see the old races they used to wash the gravel through in their operation. They took out two or three hundred thousand dollars in gold before they closed.
The Sapphire Valley Fairfield Inn was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1982 but the building had to be closed and torn down in 1986 due to fire and infestation.
Fairfield Inn may not sit on it’s throne where it once did, but it rests forever in the minds of all Sapphire Valley Guests of past and present.