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About the Inn
Great Room Dahlia at the Inn Lake House Window Boxes

"You come to nature with all her theories, and she knocks them all flat. ~ Pierre Auguste Renoir

ABOUT THE INN ON MILL CREEK

Escape the hustle and bustle and find serenity two miles inside Pisgah National Forest at our Black Mountain area Bed & Breakfast in the North Carolina mountains. We're not your typical B&B. Ten minutes off of Interstate 40 is a scenic drive curving through western North Carolina's Pisgah National Forest that brings you to the Inn on Mill Creek, where you're completely surrounded by the calmingly beautiful scenery of the rhododendron-filled forest {our rhododendron blooms white in the summertime, by the way}. Our neighbors have names like Indigo Bunting, Carolina Chickadee, Swainson's Warbler, and Whip-Poor-Will, and so we're also a site -- one of the few private properties, in fact -- on the North Carolina Birding Trail, Mountain Region.

Inn on Mill Creek Aerial ViewTwo laurel-covered mountainsides inside Pisgah National Forest, Bernard Mountain and Horse Ridge, flank our seven private acres to the east and west, respectively. On the Horse Ridge side of the property is our fruit orchard, with its view of Green Knob {site of a fabulous trail and cool fire tower} on the Blue Ridge Parkway to the north.

This aerial view taken the first weekend of November in 2009 shows the property, with the Main House {tucked behind trees} and Lake House next to the pond on the left side of the road, and the Inn's orchard on the right. [Photo credit: Nick D'Amato]

A quarter-mile from the south end of the grounds are two Forest Service access roads, which are vehicle-free, unpaved pathways into the National Forest. Additionally, the Inn is a short drive from miles of walking, biking and hiking trails, as well as Chimney Rock State Park, Biltmore Estate and Asheville, shopping and dining in Black Mountain, Montreat College and Warren Wilson College, the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway, 12 local microbreweries {with Sierra Nevada coming soon!}, and more. Use the Inn as your base of operations for your vacation and see more things to do on our Area Activities page.

Looking for a getaway where you can do "a whole lot of nothing"? We can help with that, too. After breakfast, if you want to stick around and relax on the property, you can enjoy:

  • A comfortable, private room where you can take it easy during the day and rest your head at night {pick your room}

  • A two-story Great Room with floor-to-ceiling windows and plenty of cushy couches {and a 5'x9' projection HD-TV}

  • Free wi-fi

  • A DVD and VHS movie library and board games

  • A library loft with books that you can borrow during your stay

  • Outdoor decks with plenty of seating, and a grill available for guest use

  • A large firepit

  • Seven acres of grounds, including a fruit orchard and garden spaces, great for casual strolls

Summer Flowers and the Inn on Mill Creek Gate

[Download/print a brochure]

At the Inn on Mill Creek, we strive for a relaxed, casual atmosphere. The Inn is situated at 2,300 feet above sea level, so you'll experience fresh and clean mountain air, months of flowering plants in spring and summer, a six-week fall season that will knock your socks off, and winters that typically arrive around Christmas and depart with the arrival of daffodils in March.

A LITTLE BIT OF LOCAL HISTORY

The land around the Inn on Mill Creek was home to members of Cherokee and Catawba Tribes until the Revolutionary War era, when settlers moved westward from what is now the town of Old Fort {the westernmost outpost of the American colonies}. The small towns around us feature museums and points along hiking trails that showcase this period of our nation's history. In addition to the Revolutionary War, Civil War history is also present in historical markers at the Swannanoa Gap near our exit off the Interstate, where skirmishes took place near the end of the war. You can also find tombstones of unknown Confederate and Union soldiers along the 'stagecoach road' off the Point Lookout Trail near the Inn.

By the late 1800s, the area's railroad, owned by the Southern Railway Company, still went no further west than Old Fort, and passengers and cargo had to be transported along the stagecoach road to reach rail lines in Asheville and points west. Colonel Alexander Boyd Andrews, an engineer and then Southern Railway Vice President, successfully lobbied the North Carolina legislature to authorize money and, more importantly, prison labor, to help push the railroad to the Swannanoa Gap, now known as Ridgecrest. The treacherous terrain required 13 miles of track, with seven tunnels, connecting Old Fort to Ridgecrest. There are no railroad crossings along the stretch of rail near the Inn, only trestles. {Nowadays, the trains pull freight on an irregular schedule, and 'singing rails' can be heard as they round the curves of what is known as the Loops of Old Fort.}

Andrews Geyser and Round Knob Hotel

A resort hotel called the Round Knob Hotel was built by the railroad company in the late 1800s, and included a prominent fountain as a tribute to the workers who had died building the railroad. In order to get water for the manmade "geyser", a dam was built to create a water reservoir and cast iron pipe was laid along two miles, to the fountain, where gravity {approx. 500 feet of elevation change} and pressure sent the water shooting 80 feet in the air. In 1903, an ember from a train burned down the Round Knob Hotel. The 'Fathers of Old Fort' didn't want to lose the hotel and the geyser, so in 1911, a wealthy New Yorker and friend of Colonel Andrews, George Fisher Baker, rescued the geyser.

Mr. Baker was one of the original founders of what is now Citibank and one of the wealthiest individuals of his time. He was also a philanthropically-minded man. For example, he paid for his son's alma mater, Harvard, to build a business school, and the university's library bears his name. Even though he used his great deal of wealth for various good deeds, he did not "toot his own horn" so to speak, and many of his projects were often announced in the press with very little fanfare or weren't noted at all, other than in historical documents. One of these little-mentioned good deeds included fully financing the purchase of land around the geyser in Old Fort, North Carolina, which he enjoyed seeing on his train trips through the mountains. He had the geyser relocated a short distance across the creek {off of railroad property}, where it was redesigned, deeded to the town of Old Fort, and named in honor of Mr. Baker's good friend, Colonel Andrews.

The postcard to the right shows the Andrews Geyser as it looked around the time of its dedication in 1912. It remains in this spot today, now part of a public park owned by the historic town of Old Fort. Mill Creek runs behind it, and on a hill above it sits a building that was formerly a vacation lodge {called Round Knob Lodge} for railroad executives during the era of the Round Knob Hotel. The Inn on Mill Creek, surrounded by the protected lands of Pisgah National Forest, is situated two miles north, at the site of the dam, still-working valve and water reservoir {now a serene pond}, and our Lake House is on the site of the former Andrews' Geyser caretaker's cabin.   Andrews Geyser Postcard

THE STORY OF THE INN

George and Ruth Shrode of Florida bought the seven acres of private property in the 1970s, renovated the former Andrews Geyser caretaker's cabin, planted an orchard across the road, and put in a swimming pool. They also worked with local residents and the town of Old Fort to refurbish the Andrews Geyser, which had fallen into disrepair after passenger rail ended in the 1960s. The Geyser was rededicated in 1976. Around 1980, the Shrodes built what is now the Inn's beautiful Main House, with rough hewn cedar ceilings, a commercial kitchen for Ruth {an avid cook, we hear} and plenty of space for their grown children and grandchildren to enjoy.

The Main House Under Construction

In the late 1990s, the home was bought by the Carillon family and converted the private home into a four-room Bed & Breakfast,  converted the swimming pool into a perennial garden, and the Inn on Mill Creek was founded in 1999. After a few years, the Carillons expanded the Inn, adding three rooms to the renovated Lake House in 2001. Dave and Brigette Walters bought the Inn on Mill Creek in early 2007, brought along the now-popular innpugs, Csaba and Bugsy, and have been sharing it with guests ever since. Recent improvements include the complete renovation to the North Terrace Room, and the addition of a walking labyrinth and firepit to the outdoor spaces. The orchard is also currently undergoing rehabilitation, with the plan to add pear, cherry and persimmon trees, as well as muscadine grapes. Keep up with the Inn on our Bed & Breakfast Blog and on Youtube.

Inn on Mill Creek in Summertime