This photo, dated, June 19, 1919, is of Henry Westall preparing to take off from Baird’s Bottom in his plane the Asheville.

Baird's Bottom

History Oby Morgan June 18, 2024

Known as Biard's Bottom, Asheville’s first landing strip was the land that was later flooded to create Beaver Lake.

Prior to 1923, Beaver Lake was known as Baird Bottom. It was a meadow where cows grazed quite uneventfully. Then on April 18, 1911, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times, Lincoln Beachey a pioneer American aviator and barnstormer–ceremoniously flew into town to show off his famous aerial stunts over Baird Bottom for the citizens of Asheville. That day, although for a brief moment in aviation history, Baird Bottom was Asheville's first unofficial airport.

A trolley service ran through Baird Bottom carrying vacationers back and forth between a transfer station near Grace Church on Merrimon Avenue and Weaverville.

A trolley service ran through Baird Bottom carrying vacationers back and forth between a transfer station near Grace Church on Merrimon Avenue and Weaverville. Merrimon Avenue didn't extend all the way through Weaverville, but ended near Grace Church. The trolley tracks, what have been left of them, are hidden under three to four feet of water.

This photo, dated, June 19, 1919, is of Henry Westall preparing to take off from Baird’s Bottom in his plane the Asheville.

This photo, dated, June 19, 1919, is of Henry Westall preparing to take off from Baird’s Bottom in his plane the Asheville. Westall was an army Signal Corps pilot in World War I and started a commercial aviation businesshere in 1919 with shares selling for 50 dollars each. He purchased a surplus Canadian training plane and some parts, and “voila” the Asheville Aerial Corporation was in business. Rides over Asheville were available for 15 dollars, a hefty sum at the time. Also in 1919 Westall was the first aviator to fly over the Blue Ridge. It took him less than an hour to fly from Asheville to Morganton, NC. The rest of the story, is hearsay, but interesting. Henry Westall only flew for about 18 months, and on his last flight, after landing, he kissed the wing of his plane, and never flew again.

The pig (in the center of the photo) was a present for the Asheville police force from the Waynesville police force.

The second landing strip was Dillingham Field established in 1920 when Scott Dillingham turned a cornfield in Haw Creek into an airfield. Dillingham bought Henry Westall’s plane, hired a pilot, and also went into the passenger flying business. His organization flew people over Asheville for two dollars (which is a pretty serious reduction from Westall’s charge of 15 dollars).

Here Scott Dillingham and others stand in and around a three-passenger British built plane. The pig (in the center of the photo) was a present for the Asheville police force from the Waynesville police force (another day’s story).

Emma field and Mrs. Vance Spivy

Our next “airport” was Emma Air Park a 14 acre tract of land located about a half mile west of Emma. Mrs. Vance Spivey in aviator’s clothing looks to board one of the small planes to her left. 

Construction of Asheville’s current airport was completed In January 1961. The airport continues to grow with its traditional carriers—Delta, United and American Airways, and by adding new carriers like Allegiant, jetBlue, and SunCountry, more than 2,000,000 passengers passed through its terminal in 2023.

Created in 1923, historic Beaver Lake and the adjoining property are privately owned and maintained by the residents of Lake View Park. The park and lake are enjoyed by both Lake View Park residents and guests for activities such as jogging, running, walking, biking, bird watching, watching the sun set, picnicking, boating, and fishing.

 

Photos courtesy of Buncombe County Special Collections, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, North Carolina.


A trolley service ran through Baird Bottom carrying vacationers back and forth between a transfer station near Grace Church on Merrimon Avenue and Weaverville.
Emma field and Mrs. Vance Spivy
The pig (in the center of the photo) was a present for the Asheville police force from the Waynesville police force.
This photo, dated, June 19, 1919, is of Henry Westall preparing to take off from Baird’s Bottom in his plane the Asheville.

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