Daily Archives: March 12, 2022

Estates and Rock – A 2009 Repost

Since I repost our visit to Hearst Castle recently, I thought I’d repost our visit to the country’s other big house, The Biltmore, in Ashville, NC.

June 23, 2009

Today was Biltmore Estate day, the main reason we did a 500 mile jog in our trip up the East Coast to Nova Scotia.

It’s hard to realize how big this place really is.  The house is 175,000 square feet inside.  That’s FOUR acres!

It has a total of 250 rooms, with 35 bedrooms for family and guests, and 43 bathrooms.  It is/was the largest private home in the US.

It took about 6 years to build and was completed in time for its first party on Christmas Eve, 1895.

It was built by George Vanderbilt,  grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the shipping  magnate.  No one knows exactly how much it cost to build, but it’s estimated to be about 10 million dollars, and that’s in 1895 dollars.

The Biltmore

The Biltmore Stables

One thing we didn’t like about the Biltmore was that no photography was allowed in side, not even without a flash.

The stables shown above are to the right of the main house.  I couldn’t get back far enough to get everything in one shot.

Originally, the Biltmore Estate consisted of 125,000 acres.  Now it sits on 8,000 acres.  The rest is now part of the Pisgah National Forest.

I was also amazed at the landscaping involved.  They used over 2 million plants to landscape the grounds.

What I found even harder to believe was this view from the loggia (porch) at the back of the house.

View from the Porch

When the house was built in 1895 this view was of scrub brush and bare hills, with eroded gullys and fire-blackened tree stumps.

So Vanderbilt decided to have this area completely re-forested.

They resculpted the hills for the rolling look you see today, and then planted 10 of thousands of large trees and 100’s of thousands of bushes and scrubs.

It’s  amazing what you can do if you have more money than you know what to do with!

After our tour of the house which took about 3 hours, we ate lunch at the Stable Café, which as the name indicates, is in the old stables.

The stalls have been converted into dining areas with tables also out in the center.

The Stable Cafe

Our Stall at the Stable Cafe

The food was very good, with Jan having a Chicken Salad Sandwich with Sun-dried Tomatoes on a croissant, and I had the Harvest Turkey Sandwich with melted brie, arugula, and blackberry mustard spread on a panini.

In addition to the Café, the stables also houses several gift shops and guest services.

After we left The Biltmore, we headed out about 25 miles northeast to Chimney Rock State Park.

Chimney Rock has been a tourist attraction since 1885.  Over the years paths,  staircases, and trails have been added to make access easier.

Finally in 1946,  a 198 foot tunnel was tunneled into the side of the mountain,

Tunnel to the Elevator

and then a 268 foot vertical shaft was blasted down from the top to provide an elevator to the top.

After taking the elevator to the top, the path leads thru the obligatory gift shop and then out on a walkway to the stairs that takes you up on Chimney Rock at a height of 2280 feet.

Jan only made it 2270 feet, but I was really proud of her. She has a real fear of heights and I think she only does things like this to humor me.  She made it to the top of Chimney Rock, but couldn’t do the last 10 feet to the edge.  Honestly, I was really surprised she made that far.  After 42 years, she still manages to surprise me.

Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock Closeup

From there you can see for 75 miles on a clear day.  Our day was a little hazy, but still a great view.

Chimney Rock View 1

Chimney Rock View 2

After having ice cream at the café on top of the mountain, we headed home about 4 pm.