Hooray, the daytime temps are back up to the 60s so far this week. This is our kind of January.

The week before New Year’s, our friends Renee and Tony came to visit. Innkeeper Dave and Tony took advantage of the pleasant North Carolina winter weather and hiked up along the railroad, which borders the north end of our property and provides for some really gorgeous views, regardless of the season.

Dave and Tony and the pugs were out for about two hours. Once around the first RR bend, the solitude was complete. They didn’t see another person, no cars (of course, no roads out there), no other hikers, not even planes the whole time they were out. All they heard was the sound of the wind and a few distant woodpeckers. It’s amazing to have such a natural wilderness literally within 5 minute’s walking distance of our front door.

The arrival of passenger rail service and freight trains at the end of the 19th century made quite an impact on the area. It wasn’t an easy thing to build a railroad through the mountains. Workers had to lay 13 miles of track over a distance of just three miles because of the difficult terrain. Several tunnels (five near us) and deep cuts into the rock were a necessity. Here are some of the tunnels:

And yes, even our creek, Mill Creek, got its own tunnel (on the north end of the Inn’s property) when the railroad was built over it. This moss-covered creek tunnel is about four feet high, to allow the creek to run under the huge RR embankment:

Here’s the rail line just past the Inn’s property, heading east:

When the line toward Asheville was completed here at the eastern continental divide in the late 1800s, travel west became much easier and it all paid off for those who love the railroad. As you can see above, the stretch near us, called the Loops of Old Fort, has several cool tunnels and magnificent views. It must have been quite breathtaking for rail passengers to make the journey up and over the mountains on their way westward.

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