The History of Sapphire Valley

Sapphire VAlley Historical Society


The Inn and

THe lake toxaway company


Around 1880 Northern Industrialist began to find Western North Carolina with its mountains, lumber, waterfalls, and beauty, a great place to have summer vacations.


The The Lake Toxaway Company built 5 great Inns in the late 1800's and early 1900s - the three most notable being the Lake Toxaway Inn, Sapphire Inn (on what is now Whisper Lake in Sapphire Valley) and The Fairfield Inn - 1896. The Fairfield Inn survived them all until 1986.


Fairfield Inn opened it’s doors in 1896 and served guest from mid-June until mid-September.  In 1900, in order to provide food for the Inn, a farm and farm house were constructed in the Valley. The original farmhouse is still there, serving most recently as The Library Lounge and Restaurant. Today, Red Bird Golf Course and the Sapphire Valley Racquet Club sit in front of the old farmhouse and serve tennis and golf daily.

The Toxaway Company failed in 1911 and was purchased by E.H. Jennings. Mr. Jennings sold off the Toxaway area property, keeping 7000 acres in the Sapphire Valley area and what is now known as Lonesome Valley.  He operated the Fairfield Inn until his death.

The end of the first years of Lake Toxaway ended in 1916 when a strong hurricane came in from the Gulf and dropped an estimated 24 inches of rain over 24 hours. The dam, not built for massive overflow, failed on August 14, 1916 sending 640 acres of water down the Toxaway Gorge.

The area went dormant, the Toxaway Inn abandoned and then torn down in 1948. It would not be until 1960, when new investors the found property, formed the new Lake Toxaway Company and revitalize the area.