The last remaining walls of an old inn stand in the McDonald's car park at Blaxland.
This is the final resting-place of the first licensed public house in the Blue Mountains.
The Pilgrim Inn operated at the junction of all three roads ascending Lapstone Hill: Cox's Road (the Great Western Highway), the Bathurst Road (Old Bathurst Road) and Mitchell's Pass.
The land it stood upon was granted to Barnet Levey in 1825. Naming the area Mt Sion, by 1828 he had built, at the western end, a good-sized, four-roomed weatherboard house with outhouses, piggery and stables.
Levey overextended himself in his Sydney businesses. By 1830, the land was leased to James Evans, who, in June, received the very first licence for a 12-room house he named the Pilgrim Inn.
Historians, especially in the early 20th century, debated the precise whereabouts of the inn. Was it burnt down in the late 1830s and rebuilt by the Williams brothers? Did the Western Road pass in front of it or behind it? Did it move across the road? These historical arguments do not detract from the importance of the inn to the early travellers.
As the west opened up and restrictions on travelling west were lifted, traffic continuously increased. This first stop at the summit, after the long climb up from the Nepean, was very attractive.
James Evans held the license until 1834. Between 1835 and 1837, Isaac Williams was licensee.
The Williams brothers' lives both ended tragically. According to the Nepean Times' article, "Reminiscences of a District Veteran", on April 20, 1912, "Mr Williams met his death by being gored by a bull he was trying to yard." His brother was shot shortly afterwards.
In 1838 and 1839, Lewis Lyons held the license for the inn, and Francis Brownlow in 1840. By 1853 John Outram Wascoe was licensee. He also bought the property.
On March 5, 1865, Sir Frederick Pottinger, Inspector of Police, was travelling from Forbes to Sydney. Getting into the Cobb coach after stopping at the inn, he was wounded "by the accidental discharge of his revolver at Wascoe's Pilgrim Inn, Lapstone Hill on the far-famed and wild Blue Mountains" (Bell's Life in Sydney and Sporting Chronicle, April 15, 1865.) He died in Sydney on April 9.
With the opening of the railway line, road travellers declined, as did the many inns along the road. By 1869, Wascoe, with gambling debts and falling clientele, was forced to sell.
William Deane purchased the property for a country home. It ceased to be a public house. The Deane family owned it until in 1968 it was destroyed by bushfire.
Robyne Ridge is publicity officer for Blue Mountains Historical Society.