Hot Springs, A Quaint Mountain Town
Linda and I needed a break from Columbia’s heat, so off we went to Hot Springs, N.C., for “recreation, relaxation, and romance.” Recreation in this historic town of 650 people on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains revolves around rafting, biking, horseback riding, and fishing, activities too rigorous for us at this time. So we focused on relaxation and romance – soaking in a hot tub, strolling through the two-block town, taking a golf cart tour along the French Broad River through forested mountain valleys, and dining at the Mountain Magnolia Inn.
Native Americans were the first to discover the local warm mineral springs, and Europeans were bathing in the springs by 1778 for their healing properties. In 1828, the Buncombe Turnpike was com- pleted and Warm Springs became a resort village. Wade Hampton of Columbia was among those who built summer cottages in Warm Springs in the 1830s. A 350-room hotel with a 600-seat dining room was built in the growing resort in 1837, but the hotel burned two years later.
The entire village of Warm Springs was sold to Col. J.H. Rumbough during the Civil War, and he built the Warm Springs Hotel and the Mountain Park Hotel. These hotels attracted visitors to the springs, but it burned in 1884. The Mountain Park Hotel was rebuilt in 1886 near a hotter spring, and the town’s name was appropriately changed to Hot Springs.
In 1917, the hotel was leased to the U.S. government to be used as a World War 1 internment camp. That hotel burned in 1920, two more were built, and both later burned.
Karen and Pete Nagle bought what is now the Mountain Magnolia Inn in 1996, restored the building, and opened the inn in 1999. Executive Chef Chris Brown and Chefs Marion Cook and Gina Cox now creat an unforgettable gourmet experience for guests.