2014-10-24 / Travel

Hot Springs, A Quaint Mountain Town

Part 1: The History
By Warner M. Montgomery, Ph.D.
WarnerM@ TheColumbiaStar.com


Since 1996 the Nagles have owned and operated the Mountain Magnolia Inn. Since 1996 the Nagles have owned and operated the Mountain Magnolia Inn. 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.


Wade Hampton, the Revolutionary War hero, vacationed in this cottage in Warm (now Hot) Springs during his last years. Wade Hampton, the Revolutionary War hero, vacationed in this cottage in Warm (now Hot) Springs during his last years. 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.


Native Americans invited the early European settlers to bath in their warm springs, and the place has not been the same since. Native Americans invited the early European settlers to bath in their warm springs, and the place has not been the same since. Hot Springs Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. Next Week: The Pleasure



During W.W.II these German POWs held Sunday afternoon concerts in Hot Springs. During W.W.II these German POWs held Sunday afternoon concerts in Hot Springs.

This Warm Springs Hotel was built by J.H. Rumbough soon after the Civil War. This Warm Springs Hotel was built by J.H. Rumbough soon after the Civil War.

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