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The Pathways of Solomon Jones
A neighborhood on the road less traveled
The developers of The Pathways of Solomon Jones endeavored to remain faithful to the spirit of the man who originally settled on Mount Hebron. As we walked the land in the beginning and became aware that some of Solomon’s original pathways around his house were still visible, an idea began to take shape.
What if we could reestablish them? They surely would provide the best access with the least ecological impact. After all, it was Solomon’s constant desire to leave the land better than he found it. It was surprising, how reconstructible the pathways were – a tribute to the builder’s skills.
They flowed naturally, granting easy passage through what otherwise would seem rugged terrain and also offering the traveler every aspect of the available beauty. Our result was a main road that is a continuous loop - no cul de sacs or dead ends -excellent for walking and cycling.
With the roadways thus determined, we then begin to look at every aspect of development through Solomon’s eyes.
We wanted everyone who chooses to live here to be able to enjoy unspoiled natural beauty. So we divided the land into what we called “primitive envelopes”. That is we identified the ideal building sites and drew lot lines to encompass them. Within a 85-foot radius around each home site, residents may make their own landscaping statements, but the balance of the two-to-five-acre sites must be left in a natural state. This primitive envelope concept ensures privacy for each homeowner and preserves the “living in a forest” aspect of the community as a whole.
Solomon was proud of his natural spring which was a noted for “life-giving pure water.” We’re maintaining that tradition as well in creating an inexhaustible source of fresh clean water and tying our system into the Hendersonville city water system.
We even considered the upward view. Nothing is quite so spectacular as an unobstructed view of the night sky. And, though members of our community need lighting for safety and convenience, we will ensure that such illumination be minimally detractive. All fixtures chosen for Pathways direct light downward so that as their task is accomplished, they waste no resource and do not diminish enjoyment of the night sky.
Solomon Jones 1802-1899
Road Maker and True Patriot
The Pathways of Solomon Jones is named for the man who built his home and raised his family atop beautiful Mount Hebron during the nineteenth century. His home place still stands on the site. Modest by today’s standards, it was considered quite a lavish home in the day and has been preserved as part of the heritage of The Pathways.
Solomon’s love for the land and the fruits that bore him was a source of joy his whole long life, and he took great pride in that fact he left it “better than he found it.”
Born In 1802 Solomon grew up near Hendersonville, North Carolina, amid the splendor of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Little is known of his formal education but, to paraphrase one of his biographers: however much or little he had, he made the most of it.
Solomon quietly did good deeds throughout his life. Though he refused to fight in the Civil War, he made a most remarkable contribution to the effort, generously providing for as many as 80 widows and women whose husbands and/or sons were involved in the struggle far from home.
He is described as one of the most remarkable engineers of his age. Using no instruments, he was able to survey routes across the high and often craggy mountains of the western Carolinas. Of the many roads he laid out, one of the most notable is Jones Gap Turnpike, which connected the Carolinas. Sections of that road are still viable today. Five-mile-long Jones Gap State park lies along the original path in South Carolina.
Solomon’s method was to walk the route, instinctively following the natural contours of the land, breaking twigs as he went to mark the most efficient passage. It is said that in defining the Jones Gap roadway, he made the arduous journey over the mountain five times on foot.
Solomon Jones was the Johnny Appleseed of the Blue Ridge. Possessed of an inward stirring to replenish the Earth, he sowed grass, scattered locust seed, and planted his precious fruit trees to conserve the soil from erosion all along his pathways through these hills.
Not only did Solomon prepare a way for travelers to come to the mountains, he created one of the first tourist attractions here. On top of Mount Hebron, he erected an observation tower and surrounded it with fruit trees and a vineyard to provide refreshment for his guests.
One visitor to the Solomon’s pleasure aerie was George Vanderbilt who, from that vantage point, first beheld Mount Pisgah. Vanderbilt found that great mountain irresistible and purchased more than 100,000 acres along its wooded slopes. This land was later ceded to the U.S. government and is now known as the Pisgah National Forest.
Solomon Jones’ great grandson wrote of his ancestor: “In this man, an original pathfinder, we find an efficient roadbuilder, orchardist, engineer and caterer to tourists. Here was an humble, brave, God–fearing mountaineer whose penetrating vision started this vast area toward popularity.”