History of Bluemont - Railroad days

March 11, 2008

- Susan Freis Falknor

Contents

Beginnings
Civil war
Railroad days
Modern times
Sources

Bluemont’s resort era began in 1893, when

“Washington businessman Jules Demonet, helped by the cash outlay of William Lynn of Airmont built the Blue Ridge Inn at Bears Den Rocks, a classy Atlantic city miniature, guaranteed to attract Washingtonians tired of the summer heat and fearful of epidemics.”

-- Henry G. Plaster, “Bluemont’s Historic E.E. Lake Store,” p. 9.

Another hotel, the Loudoun House, opened in the village.  Loudoun Seminary opened as a finishing school for girls, with boys attending as day students.  Later, under the name of the Willow Brook Academy it was a school for boys.  Stage coaches connected Snickersville and Berryville with Hamilton when it was the railway terminus.

In 1900, as Snickersville was already developing a reputation for hosting summer visitors, the Southern Railroad (later called the Washington & Old Dominion) extended its tracks west from Round Hill, with funding provided by Southern’s owner, J.P. Morgan.  The first train came into the village on July 4.  To enhance the tourist appeal of a village with the potentially risible moniker of “Snickersville,” the railroad named its station “Bluemont.”  The post office soon changed its name to match.

The E.E. Lake store, now restored, was built around 1901.  The space offered a cluster of shops and services—a general store, an ice cream parlor, a barbershop, and the post office, and a meeting and dance hall upstairs.  A branch of the Loudoun National Bank of Leesburg operated there for a while, but closed after robbers opened the safe with explosives in 1907.

 In many ways this was Bluemont’s heyday.  As Dr. George Plaster described it in 1902:

“An extensive section of land adjacent to the Railroad Station has been laid out in lots and streets – ‘The Loudoun House,’ two dwelling houses, a commodious storehouse, and a large warehouse and elevator, have been built and are now occupied.  Since the building of the hotel in the Gap, eight new houses have been built on the summit of the mountain, in the immediate vicinity of the village, and four more are now in the course of erection.  We have now in the village three well-equipped stores, selling general merchandise, one millinery establishment, one concern at the elevator, dealing in wheat, corn, fertilizer, flour, meal, feed, grass-seeds, etc., a livery stable and three hotels all doing a lively business, and seemingly prospering.  Also blacksmiths, wheelwrights, carpenters and harness shop.  Two physicians and a dentist are prepared to do needed repairs to the human machine.”

--George E. Plaster, M.D., “A History of Bluemont”

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