I-40 Traffic Detour Update: July 19–22. VIEW DETAILS.

While Biltmore House resembles a French Renaissance château from the outside, it was built using modern methods and technologies. Explosives used to level the house site, for example, were commercially unavailable before the 1860s. The movement of heavy materials on a massive scale provided a daunting challenge before modern construction machinery. This challenge was met by wooden derricks rigged with pulleys and hand-cranked winches, similar to how motorized cranes work today.

Perhaps the most impressive innovation at the construction site was the standard gauge rail lines running from Biltmore Village’s freight depot to the Esplanade of Biltmore House. This rail line crossed uneven mountain terrain with deep gullies and ridges, all while gradually climbing to higher ground. Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted proposed a series of terraces supporting trestles that would carry the train across valleys by artificially leveling the landscape without impacting the forest below. Train cars on a separate narrow gauge rail line carried raw materials over the flatter terrain from the on-site quarry to the brickworks.

The locomotive Biltmore transported supplies and workers from the depot in Biltmore Village directly to the construction site, arriving in front of the Rampe Douce. 1892.

Facing the Rampe Douce from the Biltmore House site gave observers a view of the Esplanade workshops as well as the railroad spur. December 1892.

Construction workers stand inside the foundation of the South Terrace while derricks with pulleys lift large rocks into place.