locked Balsam


Mike Pierry, Jr.
 

Returning from a most pleasant photo shoot of GSMR 1702 at Bryson City, NC I turned in to see the "highest track elevation on the Southern" at Balsam. Found where the station once stood and was quite surprised to see the big hotel on a hill above: "The Grand Old Lady". Was this structure built back in the day when folks took the train up into the western Carolina mountains to escape the summer heat? And, was it built by the Southern?

Mike Pierry, Jr.


Stephen Warner
 

Mike, that is the Balsam Inn, built sometime around 1905, if I recall correctly.  It was a summer retreat for northern city folk who came down on trains.  Their trunks were ferried up the hill to the lodge.  The lodge’s hallways even today are wide enough for their steamer trunks to stay outside their door.  Until a previous owner refurbished the Inn, it had no heat, as it was a summer lodge.  When a local college was upgrading their systems, she bought the old furnace and radiator system and installed it, so it became a year-round Inn.  If I recall correctly, the depot was moved across from the Inn a ways away, up on a hill, and was used as a B&B (I stayed there one time).  Until COVID, we often stayed at the Balsam Inn (the front 3rd floor corner rooms are best), and from the huge porch watched the NS local top the hill (sometimes not stopping to set retainers) before going to Bryson.  You can check on the status today.  While it is “rustic/historic”, renovations are eclectic and whimsical, but nice.  I personally recommend it, although it is not your Marriott or Four Seasons.


Michael Young
 

Stephen, did some googling and was disappointed to find reports on Yelp that the hotel has closed.  All interior furnishings were removed/sold in December 2020, and the building is currently for sale.  The Grand Old Lady website now links to what is apparently an auto body repair shop.  (I got a warning from Chrome security and decided not to continue to the site.)  It's sad, I was already planning a trip there in my mind.
Mike Young


-----Original Message-----
From: Stephen Warner <sgwarner88@...>
To: main@SouthernRailway.groups.io
Sent: Wed, Jun 9, 2021 10:46 am
Subject: Re: [SouthernRailway] Balsam

Mike, that is the Balsam Inn, built sometime around 1905, if I recall correctly.  It was a summer retreat for northern city folk who came down on trains.  Their trunks were ferried up the hill to the lodge.  The lodge’s hallways even today are wide enough for their steamer trunks to stay outside their door.  Until a previous owner refurbished the Inn, it had no heat, as it was a summer lodge.  When a local college was upgrading their systems, she bought the old furnace and radiator system and installed it, so it became a year-round Inn.  If I recall correctly, the depot was moved across from the Inn a ways away, up on a hill, and was used as a B&B (I stayed there one time).  Until COVID, we often stayed at the Balsam Inn (the front 3rd floor corner rooms are best), and from the huge porch watched the NS local top the hill (sometimes not stopping to set retainers) before going to Bryson.  You can check on the status today.  While it is “rustic/historic”, renovations are eclectic and whimsical, but nice.  I personally recommend it, although it is not your Marriott or Four Seasons.