The location of the Cloudland resort is marked by a plaque atop Roan Mountain. General John T. Wilder constructed the hotel during his days of prosperity. Wilder, known for his famous “Lightening Brigade,” developed a number of properties in Tennessee. In addition to Cloudland, he organized the Roan Iron Company and built industrial furnaces in Rockwood, Chattanooga, and Johnson City. Wilder hit hard times towards the end of his life. The man known for such development ended his career as a Pension Agent in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Cloudland was first a simple spruce lodge constructed in 1877. Wilder built the 20-room lodge in the Tollhouse Gap area. He never suspected how popular the destination would be. Visitors poured into the area and Wilder knew the spruce lodge wasn’t adequate. He built a larger building and deemed it the “Cloudland Hotel.”
Cloudland was complete by 1885 and open for visitors from July through September. It was a promoted as a health resort, particularly with those suffering from hay fever and other ailments. At the time of its completion, it was the highest inhabited structure in the Appalachian system.
Cloudland, called the “Switzerland of America,” advertised its pure air and water quality. Guests enjoyed a variety of activities, including lawn tennis, pool, dancing, trap shooting, golf, and bowling.
The facility attracted a number of notable figures, including politicians and European nobles. Sadly, the success just wasn’t enough. The tremendous operating costs and inaccessibility only ensured the hotel’s failure. A string of hopeful proprietors couldn’t fix what the hotel needed to prosper.
The health resort was abandoned around 1910. It fell into ruin and disrepair. Through the following years, it was dismantled and the materials auctioned off. It was nothing more than an outline of rubble by the late 1920s. Today, all that remains is a plaque that designates where the hotel once stood.