Frances Hays, of New Castle, PA, came to Transylvania County for
health reasons in 1890. He founded the Toxaway Company in 1896
which was responsible for the fabulous resorts for which the area
is remembered: Franklin Hotel, Fairfield Inn; Sapphire Inn, The
Lodge, and the beautiful Toxaway Inn (pictured to the right).
The dream of J. Frances Hayes was fulfilled when the construction
of a lake was completed, and the Toxaway Inn was ready for occupancy
in the western North Carolina mountains in 1903.
The Toxaway Inn was a spectacular structure, five stories high,
surrounded by a wide veranda. There were over 500 rooms, each
with a view of the lake and mountain scenery. The ultra conveniences
of 1903 included a hydraulic generating plant built below the
to furnish electricity for the inn and adjoining facilities;
rooms paneled with native wood such as oak, chestnut, walnut
all having been cut from the Toxaway property; immense fireplaces
of glazed green and white tile with great mantles surmounted
by oval, gold rimmed plate glass mirrors; steam heat; elevators;
machinery; electric lighting; the latest in baths; long distance
telephones and Western Union.
Hayes used all these modern conveniences in his national advertising
to attract the elite clientele from all over the world. Such people
as the Fords, Vanderbilts, Firestones, Rockefellers, Edisons, Reynolds,
Dukes, Wanamakers and the Nunnallys patronized it (Thomas Edison,
Jr., Harvey Firestone Sr., and Henry Ford pictured to the
right). These guests were never without entertainment. A first
and there was dancing in the beautifully chandeliered ballroom.
Daily concerts were presented for the pleasure of the guests. The
inn featured billiard rooms, bowling alleys, a pool and a bar.
Outdoor activities included boating, swimming, fishing, golf, tennis,
horseback riding and hunting.
In August, 1916, a hurricane came ashore in the Gulf of Mexico,
moved up the Mississippi Valley and combined with a smaller storm
to dump additional water on an already saturated North Carolina.
The early dam collapsed under the tremendous pressure and with
the removal of this main attraction "Lake Toxaway", the
Toxaway Inn could not keep up its image as the Little Switzerland
of America. This was the end of elegance and entertainment on a
grand scale. To our sorrow, the dismantling of the inn began in
In the late 50's David and Bertha Cosby bought the property for
a music camp and a real estate venture. In 1960 the bulk of the
property was then purchased by a group of investors, headed by
R. D. Heinitsh, Sr., from Columbia, SC. The recreation of the dam
and refilling of the lake brought excitement to Transylvania County
and; as stated by the Transylvania Times, July 29, 1965, "Somehow,
one can't help but draw a comparison between Lake Toxaway and the
enchantment of Sleeping Beauty. The lakefront slept without water
for 45 years; and now once again the lake is indeed a beauty.