Years ago, Kathy and I met a fellow rider while touring the Virginia mountains. As residents of Asheville, North Carolina, at the time, we thought one of his tales was unusually curious. It seems that the beautiful location of our city's crown jewel, the Biltmore Estate, was really tycoon George Vanderbilt's Plan B.
We found it hard to believe that George Washington Vanderbilt's idyllic site for his grand, "summer" chateau (175,000 square feet) and estate was a fallback location. That's not a fact readily bandied about in Asheville. As the years passed, we remembered our colleague's story, though the name of this fabled locale slipped our minds. What setting, we long wondered, could possibly top the gentle, rolling hills along the French Broad River in Western North Carolina?