Andrews Geyser at Old Fort

Andrews Geyser and Round Knob Lodge, ca. 1890s. Image from the North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill.

On May 6, 1976, the town of Old Fort in McDowell County rededicated its once nationally-known Andrews Geyser.

The Western North Carolina Railroad Company constructed the geyser around 1885 as a feature of its ritzy Round Knob Hotel and as a tribute to the men who died while building the railroad from Old Fort to Asheville. Engineers dammed a mountain spring and laid a pipeline downhill to create the gravity-generated fountain, which, at its prime, could spew water 250 feet into the air.

Railroad passengers enjoyed seeing the man-made waterspout as trains looped around 13 miles of track and passed through seven tunnels while ascending Old Fort Mountain and crossing the Eastern Continental Divide. After fire destroyed the Round Knob Hotel in 1903, the geyser fell into disrepair.

Wealthy New York banker and philanthropist George Fisher Baker rescued it in 1911 and had it redesigned and moved across Mill Creek.  At that time it was named in honor of his friend and Southern Railroad’s vice president, Alexander Boyd Andrews.

In 1975, Southern Railway, WNCRC’s successor company, deeded Andrews Geyser to the town of Old Fort, which restored and rededicated it a year later. It now is part of a town park.

Visit: The Mountain Gateway Museum in Old Fort interprets the history of the region.

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