Edwin George Carrier
After moving from Michigan to Asheville in 1885, Edwin George Carrier learned of the great successes of the old Sulphur Springs-Deaver Springs Hotel and its sulphur springs’ waters. He envisioned even greater possibilities, and hoped to bring back the popularity of the sulphur waters as well as the glamour and charm realized by the hotel during the pre-Civil War days. He purchased
1,200 acres of land in the Sulphur Springs area, which included the old burned-out hotel property and several tracts of land owned by Mr. J. P Gaston. Carrier then organized the West Asheville Improvement Company with the intention of developing West Asheville. Streets were laid out (many by Carrier which bear the names of states), and lots were sold.
In 1887 he built a new, three-story brick building on the site of the old wooden structure and renamed it Carrier Springs Hotel. It accommodated 250 guests and became well known for its comforts and conveniences. The new hotel was open year-round and business was very good, so Mr. Carrier built an electric railway line to entice even more guests from Asheville. It left the hotel and followed Hominy Creek through what is now Amboy Road; crossing the French Broad River on Carrier’s fine, new, high steel bridge. From this point near the mouth of the Swannanoa River the tracks ran to the Asheville depot. The railroad was called the West Asheville and Sulphur Springs Railway Co. Carrier was later able to secure a franchise to extend it to the center of the city.
In 1889 he built a dam just below Bear Creek Bridge on Hominy Creek and installed a powerful turbine and generator to make a hydroelectric plant—the first of its kind in Western North Carolina. It generated enough power to supply the electricity needed for his new hotel, the electric railway, and had a portion left for consumption by the City of Asheville.
A Carrier Race Track and Fair Grounds was built just south of Strawberry Hill, and between the Sulphur Springs Railway and French Broad River, for the enjoyment and entertainment of his hotel guests. Horse training and racing was one of his favorite hobbies. A grandstand was erected and a high fence was built around the race track. There were several exciting races, all of which were well attended.
(Text excerpted from Hominy Valley Revisited by J.L. Mashburn, p. 239)