Edwin Robinson was President of the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac (RF&P) in 1846 when he first realized the potential of the 462 acre property the railroad owned at the center of present day Ashland. The property had a mineral spring and was used as a refueling and lumber stop between Richmond and Fredericksburg. Beginning in the late 1840’s, Robinson convinced the railroad’s directors to develop a resort which they named “Slash Cottage”, recognizing the popularity of Hanover Native Henry Clay who was raised in the nearby “Slashes of Hanover”. In 1858, when the town was formally incorporated as Ashland, after Senator Clay’s Kentucky home, Slash Cottage changed its name to the Ashland Hotel and Mineral Well Company.

Robinson’s vision helped establish the town, and his Ashland Hotel and Mineral Well Company’s resort complex served as Randolph Macon’s new campus when they moved from Boydton in Mecklenburg County in 1868.