1885-1910: Cloudland Hotel (Roan Mountain)
Tourists had been visiting Roan Mountain since the mid-19th century. The sweep of the vision in every direction is unlimited, except by the curvature of the earth or the haziness of the atmosphere. The first idea suggested is that you are looking over a vast blue ocean, whose monstrous billows, once heaving and pitching in wild disorder, have been suddenly arrested by some overruling power. It was experiences such as this that no doubt persuaded former Civil War general and mining tycoon John T. Wilder to construct a 20-room spruce log lodge atop Roan Mountain in 1877. The lodge was built in the area now known as Tollhouse Gap, between Roan High Knob and Roan High Bluff. Quickly seeing the value in providing a summertime escape from the hot, humid lowlands and overcrowded cities, Wilder began construction on a much larger hotel atop Roan in the early 1880s. To move materials up to the construction site (and to keep the hotel supplied once it was finished), Wilder had to construct a road across Carver's Gap. He also built a house and the Roan Mountain Inn in what is now the village of Roan Mountain, Tennessee. The Cloudland Hotel, as it came to be called, was completed in 1885. The hotel stood a few hundred meters away from the spruce log structure that preceded it.