In the 1880s Asheville transformed dramatically into a bustling hub and tourist town, accessible by train for the first time. During this decade, large residences and neighborhoods developed quickly on the outskirts of the city. During the same period, the wealthy George Vanderbilt—heir to a massive railroad fortune—began touring and attempting to buy property and homes in the area. Feeling growing real-estate pressure from these outside interests, one community—including the Smith-McDowell or “Buck” House as well as the Fernihurst mansion—decided to incorporate into a town. The Town of Victoria, named for Queen Victoria, was located just southwest of Asheville, mostly on land formerly owned by James Smith. Contained by its larger growing neighbor, the French Broad and Swannanoa rivers, and the Southern Railway line, Victoria existed from 1887-1905 when it was absorbed into Asheville. Its story is one of continuous change, but also familiar uses, names, and even a few buildings.
Today, you can see the remnants of Victoria on this 2.5-mile self-guided tour. This loop is accessible by walking or driving, though not all details are visible from the road. Note: This tour takes you through several sites and traces of a historic neighborhood which is now mostly encompassed by the AB-Tech campus. Should you drive, you must pick up a temporary parking pass at the Smith-McDowell House or print one from our website link. Please respect private property and parking restrictions and use caution crossing roadways and streets.