For more than a century, Asheville and its surrounding region have inspired authors, artists, and celebrities, including George Vanderbilt who built his home here ? the 250-room Biltmore House. Asheville community leaders were also instrumental in the establishment of the Blue Ridge Parkway and its route through the high peaks of Western North Carolina. After successfully seeing the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Asheville visionaries recognized the opportunities that a scenic byway would create, along with its ability to preserve and showcase some of the most extraordinary views in the Southern Appalachians.
A primitive outpost in 1797, Asheville was little more than a crossroads of Indian trails on a plateau surrounded by mountains and rivers on all sides. However, The railroad transformed Asheville and Buncombe County into a resort and therapeutic health center when it arrived in 1880. Then, as now, Asheville became a Mecca for visitors searching for a mountain escape.