Andrews Geyser is man-made rather than natural. The tourist attraction was constructed about 1885 on the grounds of the Round Knob Lodge, a stylish hotel. It was built to mark the “gateway” to the Blue Ridge Mountains, and as such it was adjacent to the Southern Railway tracks in a location from which it was visible on both sides of the train during different periods of the train’s looping journey over the mountain. A stream was dammed, creating Mill Creek about two miles away and 200 feet higher in elevation. A pipeline was run downhill to the fountain/geyser and gravity generated the waterspout. During its prime, it was capable of shooting water 250 feet into the air every two to three minutes. By the 1890s the geyser had become nationally known. When Round Knob Lodge burned in 1903, the geyser fell into disrepair.
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In 1910 a wealthy New York banker, George Fisher Baker, began the process of restoring the landmark. He was unable acquire the original easements for the pipeline providing the source of the geyser’s water. So Baker had to relocate the geyser to the other side of Mill Creek, about seventy-five yards north of the original location, on land owned by Southern Railway. Baker named the restored geyser in honor of his friend, Alexander Boyd Andrews, who was the vice-president of Southern Railway from 1895 until his death in 1915. The company maintained the geyser as long as trains passed through the area. As passenger service through the mountains declined, the geyser again fell into disrepair. In 1975 Southern Railway deeded the geyser and the two acres on which it sat to the town of Old Fort. The Andrews Geyser Restoration Fund was established and the repaired geyser was rededicated on May 6, 1976.
(Raleigh) News and Observer, September 6, 1979
Asheville Times, July 30, 1975
Old Fort website: http://www.oldfort.org/andrews_geyser.htm
Andrews Geyser as seen in 2010. Image sourtesy of Steve Little.