Asheville History

Unlock the secrets to Asheville’s storied past. Hidden among the tree-lined streets of Asheville lies a rich history waiting to be discovered. 

Asheville at the Crossroad

Asheville was a primitive outpost in 1797. Frontiersmen such as Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett traveled through in the early days. Asheville was little more than a crossroads of Indian trails on a plateau surrounded by mountains and rivers on all sides.

The railroad transformed Asheville and Buncombe County into a resort and therapeutic health center when it arrived in 1880. Asheville became a Mecca for visitors searching for a mountain escape, its population climbing to nearly 30,000 seasonal residents in 1890.

Rich Architecture

Asheville had no money to invest in urban renewal projects that were so popular in other cities following Black Monday. The magnificent buildings built during the boom years were spared the bulldozer as a result of Asheville commitment to repay its debt.

This is why Asheville is a snap shot of what an American boomtown looked like during the turn of the century. It isn't unusual to find quaint mom and pop shops in elegant surroundings.

Pioneers, Philanthropists and Artists

Asheville has always drawn visionaries, poets and explorers.

George W. Vanderbilt came to Asheville in the late 1880s and quickly purchased 120,000 acres to build his grand estate. The endeavor took six years and Vanderbilt commissioned renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to design the grounds and gardens, and celebrated architect Richard Morris Hunt to help him plan the house. Biltmore Estate has withstood the test of time and modern mansions are dwarfed by the regal home.

Thomas Wolfe was born in Asheville and grew up in his mother's rambling boardinghouse, known as "Dixieland." Wolfe is one of the giants of American literature, and Asheville is the backdrop for his autobiographical novel, "Look Homeward, Angel."


DeWayne Barton, Founder of Hood Tours

Asheville's African-American History Tours Uncover Voices from Past & Present

by Ami Worthen

It’s a festive Saturday afternoon in Asheville, N.C.'s Triangle Park on South Market Street, just a few blocks from the city center, and we are greeted by the smell of fish frying, the booming sounds of hip hop, and friendly faces, all … read more

Serafina and the Twisted Staff

From Biltmore to the Forests: Your Guide to the Serafina Experience

by Jason Tarr

In the cavernous basement of the Biltmore Estate and in the magical forests surrounding Asheville is a mythical protagonist, 12-year-old Serafina, who has captivated the attention of the nation’s readers. The first chronicle of her daring quest … read more

Sweeping mountain views, great food, and lively music create the vibe in Asheville

50 Things to Do in Asheville

by Del Holston

If you’re looking for things to do in Asheville, then consider this list your primer to the many activities available in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Whether you’re a first-time visitor, or perhaps well acquainted with the flare of this … read more

Wolfe Big

Asheville's Literary Connections

by Asheville Insider

Asheville's literary heritage stretches across the 20th century and contemporary authors continue to be drawn here. These well-known novelists, poets, essayists and storytellers have ties to Asheville: F. Scott Fitzgerald, who spent two summers … read more

Moog Factory Synth

Moog Music: Pioneer of Modern Sound

by Asheville Insider

Bob Moog is a well-known legend in the music industry. In fact, in many ways he was a pioneer. Having invented the Moog Synthesizer back in the 1960s, Moog revolutionized the way we enjoy music today. You would be hard pressed to find any major … read more

Fall Cheese Board

What Is Appalachia?

by Asheville Insider

The Blue Ridge Mountains, the spine of southernmost Appalachia, are gently rolling as ranges go. Some of the oldest mountains in the world, the Blue Ridge and its famous scenic parkway are a source of much of the region's beauty, character—and … read more

Storyteller Cherokee Man

Over the Blue Ridge to Cherokee Territory

by K.C. Cronin

Beyond the stunning Art Deco architecture, the sounds of drums in Pritchard Park on a Friday night and the smell of Mexico as you pass White Duck Taco - stop and ponder this…you are in the shadows of a sacred and ancient civilization dating … read more

Video Thumbnail - youtube - Jerry Read Smith - Making Dulcimers in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Mountain Sounds, Legacy of Dulcimers

by Cat Kessler

Enthusiasts of Appalachian music are likely familiar with the whimsical sounds of dulcimers, instruments that have a rich legacy tied to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Jerry Read Smith, a local craftsman who has made more than 8,000 musical instruments, … read more

St. Lawrence Basilica

Asheville’s Awe-Inspiring Church

by K.C. Cronin

A European Master Comes to Asheville Described as “The Paris of the South,” Asheville can boast some keen similarities to the “City of Lights,” especially those reminiscent of the Left Bank: bohemian street performers, art … read more

Omni Grove Park Inn Spa

Timeless Spas Plain and Fancy

by Nan Chase

Imagine a health care system without antibiotics, without even electricity to power lights or fans. Welcome to the perilous world of the early 1800s, when malaria, tuberculosis, and other dread diseases ravaged even the most privileged of families … read more

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Grayline Asheville Trolley Tours
5 Awesome Ways to Explore Asheville’s Rich History

by Del Holston
Hidden among the tree-lined streets of Asheville lies a rich history waiting to be discovered. Take…

itinerary
Couple Hiking at Black Balsam at Sunrise
LGBT Asheville: Your Best Bets for Gay-Friendly Travel

by Del Holston
Asheville, North Carolina’s progressive attitude, vibrant arts scene, and booming nightlife…

featured events
Asheville Art in the Park
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  • Oct
Asheville Art in the Park

June 11, 2016
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: Free