Here is a transcription of a letter published in the Alexandria Gazette on August 25, 1857. According to the Library of Congress, this newspaper was published in Alexandria, VA, from 1834 to 1974. The author of the letter is unknown since it is signed only with the word, “Union”. A link to an image of the original letter from the microfilmed copy of the newspaper is provided below the transcribed text.
The passenger over the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac railroad passes the Slash Cottage, (recently christened Ashland,) a pleasant retreat only sixteen miles from Richmond. It was near this place that the honored statesman Henry Clay, was born, and it was in his memory that its name was changed.
Ashland is located on a level slope nearly one hundred and fifty feet higher than the ground upon which the city of Richmond is built. It consists as present of a small sized hotel, built in cottage style, with, on its right and left, and immediately in its rear, a number of smaller-sized cottages, capable of affording accommodations for families. These cottages are well furnished and provided with every modern convenience.
The grounds belonging to the company who have introduced this improvement are tastefully laid off in walks and flower-beds and grass plats. An abundance of shade trees have been planted, but, as the trees are yet quite young, the shade afforded is not sufficient to break the effect of the piercing rays of an August sun.
But two years have elapsed since this spot was dreary and almost uninhabited. Now, attracted by its comfort and its beauty, it is the resort of whole families, who there seek immunity from the dust and the heat of the city.
The plan upon which the hotel is managed is advantageous to all parties. A gentleman residing in Richmond desires to take his family into the country, but is unwilling to place them at too great a distance form him. If then he secures a cottage at Ashland, (and all the cottages there are for rent and a few for sale,) puts his family in it and boards them at the hotel, where he will find most excellent fare, he is entitled to a free passage between Ashland and Richmond, and as three and four trains are run every day, he can spend each night with them without neglecting his business for a single day.
But it may be thought that the railroad company loses by these free passes. Not so, however. The families frequently go to the city, and often receive visitors, which makes business for the railroad.
It is the intention of the proprietors to erect a large number of these cottages in time for the next season, and to sink an artesian well.
The success of the undertaking is now regarded as a fixed fact, the attendance during the present season having been quite large, and a number of gentlemen of Richmond having already purchased building lots, with a view of making this a place of permanent resort during the heat of the summer.
We have often thought that a summer retreat near Washington conducted on this plan would be very popular with our citizens, and very profitable to it proprietor.
Thanks go out to Angela Smythe for sending us this image and to Diane Jadlowski for transcribing the letter.