In the late 1800s when the railroad from Old Fort to Ridgecrest was completed, passengers were treated to a very impressive sight as their train climbed the 13 miles of switchbacks and seven tunnels to the top of the mountain. Several times during their ascent they were treated with a view of “the fountain” at Round Knob Hotel, with gravity-powered water shooting nearly 100 feet into the air. The fountain would later become known as Andrews Geyser and, after a period of neglect in the mid-20th century, has become one of the most recognizable and visted landmarks in McDowell County. It has come to symbolize the achievement of bringing the railroad across the rugged mountains of McDowell County.
Steve Little, now Mayor of Marion, has always harbored a keen interest in the railroad and played a central role in bringing the geyser back from disrepair and neglect in the mid 1970s. He lays out the history of Andrews Geyser and talks about its rehabilitation, which coincided with the American Bi-Centennial.
Listen to Steve tell the story of Andrews Geyser, recorded at the historic Old Fort depot:
Steve also gave us a great overview of the history of the railroad in McDowell County. You can watch the 3-part video presentation as part of our special railroad page.