Posted by Jochen | Posted in Living in WNC, Real Estate News | Posted on Saturday, October 17, 2009
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A “Jewel” of a Find in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Originating as primarily a gold and gem mine town – Sapphire, North Carolina is a “jewel” of a find along the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau. In the early 19th Century, the Sapphire Valley region was reportedly the nation’s leading gold producing area until the California Gold Rush of 1849. Conjecture either has it that the town of Sapphire was named for the bounty of beautiful blue gems also found in the local mines or for the crystal blue skies visible above the mountaintops.
In the late 1800’s, Pittsburgh entrepreneur E.H. Jennings purchased thousands of acres of wilderness in Western North Carolina’s Jackson and Transylvania counties through his venture, the Toxaway Company. The original mission was to build a railroad from Hendersonville to Toxaway to carry the felled timber to the Toxaway Company sawmill, and from there the lumber to the shipping points. It wasn’t long before Jennings saw beyond trees for lumber to the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This early visionary decided to create a resort destination, and dubbed the area “The Switzerland of the South.” He built resorts in nearby Cashiers and Lake Toxaway, as well as the Fairfield Inn on Lake Fairfield in the Sapphire Valley. The Inn, built in the style of a Swiss Alpine Lodge in 1896, was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1982, but had to be closed and torn down after a fire in 1986.
Home to the Sapphire Mountain Brewing Company, Sapphire’s local tavern was established in 1888 near the Horsepasture River Gold Mine to serve thirsty miners. Now primarily serving thirsty golfers and hungry patrons, great care has been given to preserving the original ambience of this historical brewery. From the saloon flooring, to whisky barrels, to stone blocks in the fireplace – all more than a century old – much of the original structure has been moved from its initial location to its new position overlooking the beautiful Sapphire National Golf Course.
Sapphire is also home to the historic Camp Merrie-Woode. Since 1919, this very special summer camp has been inspiring girls and young women to appreciate the simple life and natural beauty, while emphasizing the importance of a lifetime of service. Serving thousands of campers since its inception, each individual at Camp Merrie-Woode is valued for who she is and who she will become. Camp Merrie-Woode is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its original Adirondack-style structures.
Today, E.H. Jennings’s original vision of a resort destination is still alive and well. Although his original beloved Fairfield Inn is no more, Sapphire is perhaps best known for its most popular destination, Wyndham Resort at Fairfield’s Sapphire Valley. This outstanding family-friendly resort offers an abundance of amenities and activities, including the 50-acre Sapphire Lake, the 18-hole PGA Sapphire National Golf Course, 9-hole golf course, one indoor and two outdoor swimming pools, ten tennis courts, health club with state-of-the-art fitness equipment, boating and fishing on the lake, horseback riding, game room, massage services, miniature golf and more. The resort has partnered with a number of area communities to share their facilities with local residents. A handful of these communities include Bald Rock, Cedar Hill, Country Club Estates, Deer Run, Eagle Ridge, Falcon Ridge, FiveStone, Fox Run Ridge, Golf Club Estates, Holly Forest I – XIV, Round Hill, Sapphire High, Stonecreek Crossing, The Divide at Bald Rock and Whisper Lake.
Another destination that serves as a major draw to Sapphire and sets it apart from some of the other local communities is the Sapphire Valley Ski Resort. Opportunities to ski or snowboard the slopes rest on the resort’s two downhill runs – one with a 200 foot vertical drop at 1,600 feet in length, and one considerably milder “bunny hill”. The resort also features a fun two-lane tube park called Frozen Falls.
Most importantly, Sapphire stands out for its natural beauty. Portions of the U.S. National Forestry’s Panthertown Valley lie within Sapphire filled with miles of hiking trails, cascading waterfalls and acre after acre of unspoiled forest.
Neighborhoods in Sapphire vary from affordable single-family homes to luxury mountain estates. For more information about Sapphire and its many excellent community offerings, call the team of experienced local brokers at Silver Creek Real Estate Group at 828.743.1999 or drop by our offices in the Shoppes at CreekSide located just west of the Cashiers Crossroads. To view homes and properties for sale, visit our Sapphire “Communities and Subdivisions” page at www.ncliving.com. We invite you to take advantage of the current buyer’s market, and find a “jewel” of your own in WNC’s outstanding Sapphire Valley.
Information courtesy of sapphirevalleyresort.com, sapphiremountainbrewingcompany.com and merriewoode.com.