Four Extraordinary Things About Toxaway – Sapphire
Toxaway and Sapphire, in Transylvania county’s high-altitude southwest edge, are A+ destinations whether you want to catch a stunning view at the end of a hike or relax in a place long-celebrated for its beauty and history. Here are a few things to know about what makes this place so very special:
A GEOLOGICAL MARVEL
Toxaway and Sapphire are located along the Blue Ridge escarpment. Called the “Blue Wall” by the Cherokee, the escarpment is the line at which the Blue Ridge Mountains plunge into the rolling foothills of upstate South Carolina. This dramatic drop, created by the movement of tectonic plates and eons of water erosion, is site to some of the most spectacular views around.
The unusual topography of the escarpment made Toxaway-Sapphire a rich and unique microbiome, with its own climate (temperate rainforest) and diverse flora and fauna. Many rare species of plant life still grow in, around and along the escarpment. While botanists and conservationists alike have stressed the importance of caring for and preserving what grows in this very special place, there is ample opportunity to observe the wildflowers, the towering trees and the many kinds of living things that make the area home. Toxaway’s Southern Highlands Reserve is always an excellent resource.
GRAND OLD HISTORY
Toxaway and Sapphire have been a storied vacation destination for more than a century. The end of the 19th century brought the railroad to the highlands plateau, which opened the region to an affluent and adventurous group of visitors and investors. A group of Pittsburgh-based entrepreneurs purchased several large tracts of land along the escarpment and along the railroad line to create a series of resorts, among them Lake Toxaway and the Toxaway Inn. By 1903, the inn had opened alongside the new lake, and notables started to build resort homes along its banks. Though the original dam collapsed in a 1916 flood and the old Toxaway Inn is long gone, the resort community is still thriving, and if you’re looking for a little vintage Gilded Age luxury, the Greystone Inn, formerly the historic Hillmont Mansion, provides a beautiful lakeside view of Toxaway’s past.