Nestled deep in the mountains of Lake Toxaway is a historic-site brought back to life. Grand Olde Station is a tribute to the past, present and future of Lake Toxaway.
The property originally served as a train depot, now it’s a modern restaurant with an atmosphere that honors the station’s deep past. Wooden boats are featured onsite very similar to what would have been seen on the lake from in the early 1900s, accompanied by an original Toxaway fire engine and historic train caboose. We’re passionate Toxaway locals who have a wholehearted admiration for the town and its immersive history.
A long and Interesting History...
The Grand olde station restaurant in Lake Toxaway North Carolina has a long and interesting history.
TOXAWAY DEPOT 1903 to 1947
In 1899, the Toxaway Railroad line was acquired by J.F. Hayes at auction. Hayes was elected president of the company and promptly directed the extension of the existing line to the town of Rosman in 1900. By 1903, the line was pushed to its ultimate end point of the town of Lake Toxaway. The Toxaway Depot was the end of the line with a "Y" turn around.
It was originally the Toxaway railroad depot built to harvest timber and for the rich and famous traveling to the Lake Toxaway Inn from 1903 to August 13,1916, to the Toxaway Inn a beautiful and luxurious place, frequented Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Thomas Edison, R.J. Reynolds, the Vanderbilts and J. D. Rockefeller.
Lake Toxaway is a 640 acre man made lake built by the Lake Toxaway Company, completed in 1902. The Toxaway Inn was built in 1903 and considered to be the largest wooden residential structure at that time in the United States, standing 5 stories tall with 150 rooms. It was extremely modern for its time, with electricity, elevators, and radiant heat. The Inn was originally built as a summer retreat for wealthy families and quickly became a popular destination for socialites and celebrities.
However, on August 13, 1916, the great flood of 1916 overpowered the man-made dam and sent a 30 foot wall of water crashing down into South Carolina. The Toxaway inn never opened again. The ghostly building sat preserved for over 30 years with the tables set and beds made, The caretaker was Tolvin Miller until it was sold in a salvage auction in 1947 and demolished. The devastation caused by the flood was immense, but thankfully there were no casualties. The Toxaway Inn was truly a lost world; a titanic relic of a bygone era when luxury and indulgence knew no bounds.
Following the flood of 1916 the railroad line was still active harvesting timber from deep into the Toxaway Mtns. The train would turn around at the Toxaway Depot and back up to Cold Mtn to load up lumber. Southern Railway 630 is a 2-8-0 "Consolidation" type steam locomotive built in February 1904 to travel from Hendersonville to Lake Toxaway. The Locomotive is still in operation at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. Today, the locomotive is a living embodiment of a bygone era; a golden age when railways played a vital role in American industry and romance.
The Toxaway Inn was a grand and extraordinary hotel. However, following the deconstruction and auction of the Toxaway Inn 1947, the railroad depot was closed and the line was taken out. As a result, Toxaway became a hidden gem, forgotten by many over the years. However, those who know about it still remember it as one of the most amazing places in the world.
McNeely's GENERAL STORE 1949 to 1970
Nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the town of Lake Toxaway, without a lake present at that time, has a long and rich history. One of its most famous residents was C.R. McNeely, who played a key role in the construction of both the Toxaway Inn and McNeely's Country Store. A true titan of industry, C.R. was known for his hard work and dedication. He was an electrician by trade, and he used his skills to help wire the massive Toxaway Inn. He took the leftover materials from the inn and used them to build McNeely's Country Store. The store quickly became a community fixture, providing locals and summer guests with everything they needed. From clothes to food staples, McNeely's had it all. Today, the historic store is gone but C.R.'s legacy lives on. His grandchildren and great-grandchildren continue to live in Toxaway, carrying on his tradition of hard work and determination."
The Toxaway Depot was a busy place back in the day. Since it was a train stop, people would come from all around to buy things at the general store. But when the depot closed down for good, the McNeely family decided to move their general store into the Toxaway Depot site.
It was an upgrade from their old wooden structure. Along with the General store , they added on a laundromat on the first floor and lived in a three bedroom apartment above it. The store remained successful until they decided to move and expand it to Highway 64 in the early 1970s where it still stands today. It's known as Ace Hardware and is still operated by the McNeely family.
When John L. Nichols Jr. purchased the General Store in the early 1970's, he could not have imagined what it would become. With the addition of Lake Toxaway Realty Company and Holbrook Nichols Construction on the second floor and a complete conversion of the downstairs area into a restaurant, it became a lasting hub for business and social gatherings alike. The original Capitan's Table was popular far and wide, but was eventually replaced by the even more beloved Brown Trout Restaurant which enthralled patrons for nearly two decades until it too sadly eventually closed. After that came the Blind Mule Restaurant, however, due to the unfortunate circumstances brought by Covid 19, even this revered destination met an unexpected end.
John L. Nichols, III knew that Lake Toxaway wouldn't be quite the same if it was missing a restaurant, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So against his wife Mish's wishes, John took a leap of faith and opened the "Grand Olde Station".
The "Grand Olde Station" has breathed new life into the old Toxaway Depot, taking a bite out of history along with it. If you want a window into the past, The Grand Olde Station is sure to be a treat—from their original early 1900s Southern Caboose to their wooden boats and original fire truck straight from Toxaway’s history books. Food lovers will also be in for a treat; the wide array of delicious food served in this historical setting makes it an unmatched dining experience. And don’t forget about outdoor entertainment—stop by on any given evening for live music and movies!