The Town of Laurel Park lies at the southern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains just west of Downtown Hendersonville. The Town of Laurel Park was incorporated on February 28, 1925.
The development of the Laurel Park area began in 1888 when Echo Mountain, was purchased by William A. Smith, a lawyer from Georgia and C. M. Pace, a local Superior Court Clerk.
In 1904, Mr. Smith began to develop Laurel Park as a recreational center, with Crystal Spring as the hub. He built Rainbow Lake, a dance pavilion and cleared a large space for picnicking. He built an observation tower on the side of the mountain, several hundred feet above Crystal Spring, then he constructed a Swiss log railroad so visitors could reach the tower. Later, Mr. Smith built Laurel Park Lake, then he constructed a canal that connected Laurel Park Lake to Rainbow Lake. Gondolas glided back and forth on the canal, which were lit at night with colored lights.
Mr. Smith built a steam-operated streetcar line, which was officially called The Laurel Park Railroad Company, but to the residents and visitors it was known as “The Dummy Line”; the little wood burning engine, and later the one that burned coal that pulled the passengers cars were the dummies. During the summer months people flocked to Hendersonville to ride “The Dummy Line” to Laurel Park for recreation and entertainment. The Laurel Park Railroad Company laid the tracks and started operation in 1905, the last run was in September of 1912.
It was during the land boom of the 1920’s that Laurel Park Highway was built as an extension of Fifth Avenue to the top of Jump Off Rock. After the highway was built, Laurel Park began to be developed into the residential area that it is today.
It was during the 1920’s when Commodore Perry Stoltz, former president of the New York Yacht Club and Miami resident, bought a prominent site on top of Echo Mountain and started building the grand Fleetwood Hotel. The plans were to build the hotel as a replica of the original Fleetwood, the largest hotel in Florida. The hotel fell victim of over-speculation, scarce investment capital, the onset of the Stock Market crash of 1929 and the nation’s economic depression. The Fleetwood was never completed, finally in 1937 the steel framing of the uncompleted hotel was sold for salvage.
Atop Echo Mountain is the scenic overlook, Jump Off Rock, which provides a panoramic view of rolling pastures, the Blue Ridge and Pisgah mountain ranges. Jump Off Rock also holds an Indian legend that has been passed down for many, many years. Over 300 years ago a young Cherokee Indian maiden received word that her young Indian Chief had been killed in battle, so she climbed to the edge of the rock and jumped off. Indian legend has it that on moonlit nights you can see the ghost of the maiden on Jump Off Rock. Jump Off is located about 5 miles from downtown at the end of Laurel Park Hwy.
For information on the Town of Laurel Park visit www.laurelpark.org