Local historian, author, Mayor of Marion, and attorney Steve Little presented a program to the Marion Rotary Club about Andrews Geyser in Old Fort.
The elegant mode of transportation to Asheville around the turn of the century was via railroad through Old Fort. A hotel was constructed in 1885 in the now very remote area of Old Fort adjacent to the geyser site. It was a fantastic 5 story structure called Round Knob Inn (the area was Round Knob). This hotel served as a stopping point for the train and travelers would stop and have lunch in the 100 person dining hall. The hotel owner decided to add a fountain to provide a memorable experience for travelers. The fountain quickly became a legend and was billed as the highest fountain in the entire world.
In 1903, the wooden hotel caught fire and all was lost. The fountain and area fell into disrepair. However, in 1911 an extremely wealth train traveler, George Baker Fisher, was traveling by the site and was dismayed that the once great fountain was lost. He privately funded the repair, restoration, and improvement of the fountain and decided to name it in honor of his friend. Colonel Alexander Andrews.
Andrews was an interesting man. Having survived a gunshot wound in the Civil War to his chest (no small feat in itself), he further distinguished himself by being the driving force behind construction of the western railroad to Asheville and beyond. He personally placed his wealth behind a guarantee he could see the construction through to success.
Today, the fountain still exists and makes a great spot to visit and picnic. It functions sporadically but is in need of repair. A local group is attempting to raise $32,000 to fund repair of the intake pond (2 miles from the geyser).