Historic Inn is Reborn
In the late 1800s Foster Falls had everything a thriving village could ask for. An iron ore furnace in town brought with it the Norfolk & Western Railway, and soon there was a post office, general store, and distillery. In 1887 the Inn was opened to provide lodging for dignitaries, guests, and local teachers.
When the furnace closed in 1914 Foster Falls, so did the need for local services. By 1920 the inn had become an industrial school where teenaged girls of the mountains in need of a home could learn domestic skills. Eventually the school accepted girls and boys of all ages and became known as the Children’s Home.
A fire broke out in September of 1940 and all but the outer brick walls (still in use today) of the building were destroyed. The home was rebuilt, opening again the following year. Finally in the early 1960s, a new Children’s Home was constructed in nearby Wytheville, and the Foster Falls property was boarded up and abandoned. It remained that way for the next 30 years.
But while the shuttered inn/orphanage slept, changes were happening all around it. The defunct railroad was purchased and transformed into a 57-mile park called the New River Trail which opened in 1986. Foster Falls State Park, which borders the New River and is home to the remains of the now historic iron ore furnace, opened in 1987. Foster Falls became a destination once more.
The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation purchased the property in 1995, and the slow process of historical study, planning, stabilization, reconstruction, and restoration began. Almost 3 decades later the work is complete and the story of an historic inn that has survived over 130 years of change continues.
The Inn at Foster Falls is now a 10-room boutique hotel with 2 banquet rooms, parlor, catering kitchen, and immediate access to Foster Falls State Park. The hotel is the perfect stay for individuals who are in the area to enjoy the natural setting of the New River Valley, as well as a destination for intimate weddings, family gatherings, and specialty retreats. The banquet rooms are available to host meetings and special events.
The Cripple Creek Railroad Extension
In 1882 the Norfolk and WesternRailroad was expanding up the New River to access the coal tields of West Virginia, as well as the rich mineral deposits of iron ore, lead and zinc in Southwest Virginia. Along Cripple Creek, a tributary of the New River, the Speedwell Furnace had been in operation since around 1799, using horse drawn wagons to transport iron to the nearest railroad stations on the main line at Crockett, Wytheville and Max Meadows.
The New River Plateau Railroad Company, with the help of Norfolk and Western, built a new rail line from Pulaski to Galax to bring rail service to Speedwell Furnace and the area's mines, replacing horse power and sparking the area's growth.
In 1887. Foster Falls Hotel was built to accommodate area visitors and local workers.