Strategies of the Blue Ridge: Afton Property: A New Place of Summertime Resort

Early 1900s watch of Afton, Virginia, revealing an elevated passenger depot system that aligned with Claude Crozet’s initial Blue Ridge Tunnel. The roof of Afton Property is obvious at the higher ideal. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

“On very last Saturday, a public dinner was supplied at Afton, in Nelson County, in honor of the completion of the new depot constructing, erected there in put of the one particular burned by the Yankee raiders in the Spring of 1865,” reported the Staunton Spectator newspaper in June 1868.

With the re-opening of Afton’s train depot, hope for brighter, extra affluent times reigned supreme. That was surely the contemplating of 41-year-old James Robert Goodloe and his youthful bride Maggie Crist in December of ’69. In addition to boosting a relatives, the congenial couple envisioned houseguests—lots of them—arriving by prepare, strolling across their garden, soothing on breezy porches, and gathered around evening meal tables brimming with delectables. The putting of good foundations beneath those people lofty desires was underway when the new year of 1870 arrived.

S.H. Goodloe & Firm were proprietor-operators of the venerable Mountain Major Lodge at Rockfish Hole, just more than the county line in Augusta County. Close to this exact same time, those company companions began an unparalleled developing project in Nelson County, close by the sparkling new depot—a four-tale venture named Afton Property that totally embraced the desires of James and Maggie Goodloe.

Afton House was promoted by own sentiments mailed around the region on penny postcards. This scarce case in point, postmarked 1907, shows summer months friends soothing on that hotel’s garden and porches. Phil James Historical Visuals Collection.

The Richmond Dispatch, in Could 1871, noted, “In the Piedmont Location, summertime resorts are springing up. We mention the Afton Residence near the mouth of the Rockfish Gap tunnel through the Blue Ridge. A spacious hotel has been erected there just in which there is a complete view of the stunning valley of the Rockfish River, (one of the loveliest sights in the planet,) and where by the environment is unsurpassed for its bracing and healthy influences. This will come to be a well-known summer time resort [that] can be arrived at from Richmond by supper-time.

“Parties leaving the Virginia Springs and not wishing to return to the metropolitan areas so shortly will uncover this a very easy and pleasant spot, with wonderful freestone and chalybeate h2o.”

Likewise, the Baltimore Sun noted, “This new area of Summer months Vacation resort will be opened for the reception of people on the 15th of June. A far more pleasant and lovely place can not be identified in the mountains of Virginia, or a person a lot more hassle-free to the towns. Phrases: Per month, $40 per week, $12 for every working day, $2. Children underneath 12 yrs and servants 50 percent value. S.H. Goodloe & Co., Proprietors. Afton, Nelson County, Va.”

Phrase of its opening spread close to and significantly. The Staunton Spectator introduced, “Excursion to Afton Depot. — The Catholic Sunday College of Staunton will hold their Once-a-year Pic Nic at Afton Depot, Nelson County, on the line of the Chesa. & O.R.R., on Tuesday, July 23rd, 1872, the Messrs. Goodloe possessing kindly provided the use of the Grove hooked up to the New Hotel, at the previously mentioned named beautiful Summer months vacation resort.

“The coach will leave Staunton at 7 o’clock a.m. Returning, go away Afton at 7 o’clock p.m., giving eleven hrs for recreation, going to, and viewing the lovely surroundings in the neighborhood like Mountain Best. Evening meal will be furnished to these who could wish it, by Mr. Goodloe, at 50 cents each individual.”

This early-fashion skeleton vital with leather fob is a tangible reminder of Nelson County’s Afton House resort. Courtesy the Edward Stratton Loved ones.

Updates to the assets, of program, were ongoing. In spring 1874, the Richmond Dispatch claimed, “Afton Household. — This new and well-liked summer resort has been much enhanced by the addition of several properties, good bowling alley, bathhouses, &c. All those trying to find recreation or health simply cannot be better suited. The spot is beautiful and nutritious, the sights are grand, and the mountain breeze is almost continuous…”

In May possibly 1877: “… The new Ball-home to the Afton Home is progressing in the direction of completion will be prepared for this season…”

The Dispatch, in August 1879: “The Afton Residence and Mountain-Top are filled with visitors—many of them well known citizens of Richmond. They show no disposition to go away the mountains for the oppressive warmth of the cities, and will in all probability continue being till late in the time.”

How does 1 stop a teach? Try to remember the mention of those people supper tables groaning with delectables? The Spectator described, “Afton, Va., August 18th, 1881. The lengthy seemed for Telegraph place of work at this position is now in complete operation, in cost of Mr. G.R. Loyall, who is Depot Agent of the C.&O. Railway, assisted by J.E. Hall, Esq. The mail trains dine at the Afton Home.”

An authentic site part from the 1903 Afton Home visitor sign-up. Courtesy the Edward Stratton Household.

Staunton’s Valley Virginian well-explained Afton’s summer time scene: “Goodloe’s Afton Dwelling is filling up rapidly with visitors, and in advance of a fantastic although, should really the weather proceed hot, city individuals will be happy to just take roosting place in open up air only for the privilege of making the most of the delights that Afton affords. Nowhere in the mountains of Virginia is there a extra delightful vacation resort. No other lodge gives its guests a greater table or extra relaxed quarters at as affordable figures, and no other spot can boast of a better course of people than people who on a yearly basis flock to Afton Residence.

A postcard look at titled “Afton Pond” pictured the gazebo and pond by the entrance lawn of Afton House. This early 20th century hand-tinted card was created pre-WWI in Germany. Phil James Historical Photographs Assortment.

“And mine host—in James Goodloe are to be discovered all the excellent qualities of a initial-course lodge person, even though at the exact time he is cost-free from any of the objectionable features. It is well worth the price tag of a month’s board anywhere else to listen to that gentleman’s hearty peal of laughter ringing out upon the pure mountain air. Afton is in no way without a crowd after the time opens…. The successors of Mr. Goodloe will have to be properly up in the artwork of satisfying to enhance on the admirable management of this institution, owing in marked diploma to the accomplished wife of the proprietor.”

James Robert Goodloe (1828–1911) and his bride Margaret Ellen “Maggie” Crist Goodloe (1845–1922) graciously shared their lawn, porches and meal desk with the community for 46 of this establishment’s 93 several years of existence. In addition, scores of a lot beloved wait around-staff members and professionals presented Afton Dwelling with a sterling legacy of hospitality that even now cannot be matched.

 

Comply with Secrets of the Blue Ridge on Facebook! Phil James invites call from all those who would share recollections and aged photographs of lifestyle alongside the Blue Ridge Mountains of Albemarle County. You might answer to him by means of his site: www.SecretsoftheBlueRidge.com or at P.O. Box 88, White Hall, VA 22987. Strategies of the Blue Ridge © 2003–2021 Phil James