Friday, August 24, 2007

The Cloudland Hotel

In 1884, Civil War Union General John T. Wilder constructed a luxury resort atop Roan Mountain which straddled the TN/NC line. My favorite story about the three-story hotel was that there was a line painted across the floor (and banquet table!) of the dining room indicating the state line. This demarcation was of practical importance to guests as the consumption of alcohol was allowed in Tennessee, but illegal in North Carolina. Legend has it that a local sheriff from NC would linger about the dining room hoping to catch a patron crossing the line with his or her drink. Guests would arrive in what is today the town of Roan Mountain, TN by narrow gauge railroad and then ride up the mountain by carriage. Sometime after 1910, Wilder ceased operations, the hotel was dismantled and ultimately the property was sold to the US Forest Service. Today, visitors can roam the mountaintop where the hotel once stood and enjoy the views. The Appalachian Trail passes by this site which is a great place to photograph wildflowers. Click here for a Roan Mountain brochure and map. [Hotel photo courtesy of]

For directions and more information of all there is to see and do on Roan Mountain, click here.

From an advertisement for the Cloudland...
Come up out of the sultry plains
to the land of the sky.
Magnificent views above the clouds
where the rivers are born.
The hotel is the highest human habitation
east of the Rocky Mountains.


  1. What a great blog!

    What type of camera do you use as I am looking for a new one.

    Sandra, Seatle, WA

  2. Hi Sandra - Glad you like the blog, thanks for visiting! If you scroll down, I just included a short section in the right column containing "My Camera Equipment." I've never regretted getting the Nikon D80. But I'd recommend you begin your camera shopping by reading the reviews on for Canon XT and XTi, as well as for Nikon D40, D40x and the D80. Good luck!

  3. Mark, Grandma Gouge's mother worked at the Cloudland Hotel!

  4. Iah

    I am also related to the surname Gouge!

    What part of the South does your family come from?

  5. I'm originally from Illinois, I moved here 12 years ago (and fell in love with this area!). The Gouge's that I know from church are from the Roan Mountain and Pinecrest areas of Carter County.

  6. I grew up in Roan Valley, just a few miles from where the Cloudland Hotel was. I am doing a scrapbook of my family and was looking for info on the hotel because our house was build out of lumber from the Cloudland. Mom said when they were remodeling the house you could find names and dates carved in the wood. My grandmother told stories about going with her father in a horse drawn wagon to deliver milk and
    eggs to the hotel. She was so impressed with the waiters, dressed in white coats, carrying big trays above their heads from kitchen to dining room.

    1. My Mom's Uncle Lonnie Cook had a country store on the road leading to Roan Mountain. As a child have fond memories of his store and our visits with him there.

  7. I grew up in a house in Burbank, at the foot of the Roan, and was told that the house was built out of lumber from the Cloudland Hotel.
    I can still remember the lumber celings in the house. I would love to see more pics of the hotel and know more about the Gouge relatives that worked at the hotel.
    Thanks, Louise. 727-709-0006

  8. My Dad and his family grew up beside Clarles creek on the NC side of the Roan approx. 2-3 miles from the hotel site. My family tells stories of how the land was quick claimed from our family to build the hotel. Later my grand-dad and great grand-dad's house was built from the materials from the cloundland and both houses are standing today. Because of the disputed rights ariseing from the land claims, our family still has grazing rights from the forset service to graze animals on the balds. A lot of rich history that goes with the mountians.

  9. Thanks for the photos. My ancestors (from my father back to the 1790s) lived in under the Roan in the Big Rock Creek area in NC. As a child, I was introduced to the magnificent Roan, and although many miles and states away, I remain in awe of this glorious place. Years ago, I found handmade nails where the hotel stood, and a friend found a wooden bowling ball down from the hotel in the woods. I was told by an old timer that when the hotel ceased to operate, the bowling balls were thrown down the side of the mountain. Also, did you know about the main dining table? It had a NC/TN state line painted down the middle of it.

    Wanda L. Harrell

  10. Does anybody have any information about the original Cloudland Hotel in Mitchell County NC at the end of Gouge Cove Rd? From what I'm finding, it was the first one built back in the 1870's or so. It was a 20 room hotel and later abandoned after the one on Roan Moutain was completed.

  11. Will they ever re-open this trail!?!?!?

  12. The original plan was to have the road and trail construction at the top of Roan be completed by the Rhododendron Festival in June 2011. I haven't heard if they are ahead of schedule or not.

  13. Does anyone have any photos of the inside of the hotel? Would be interesting to see.

  14. My G.G. Grandfather, J. H. Redfield along with Asa Gray and others on a botany trip looking for Shortia Galacifolia spent several days in June 1879. It was having an addition put on then to bring it to 20 rooms. L.B. Searle (proprietor)was working on the road coming up from Wilder's Forge. This was the first Cloudland Hotel, the housekeeping staff consisted of two cousins from Michigan. $2.00 per day, $10 per week.

  15. My father's grandma and grandfather worked or ran the hotel during civil war stoires of large dinning table with line down it soldiers we're separated Tennessee line and North Carolina line you didn't cross the line at the hotel the family still have a little piece of the table and they were Gouge s

  16. My GGrandparents were Honeycutts, and I was told that my GGrandfather was born in the hotel.
    If the trail is open now I would love to hike up there and see the view! (Does anyone know if it is open?)

  17. In the winter months, the road from Carvers Gap to the top of the mountain is gated shut. So what I recommend doing is to park at Carver's Gap and hike the Appalachian Trail up the mountain, and then walk the gated road back down to where you parked. The climb up the AT is moderate and steady, but not nearly as steep as you might think. :)


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