Chimney without Lake Lure

Lake Lure and Hickory Nut Gorge Tell a Story

The history of Lake Lure and Hickory Nut Gorge is nothing short of fascinating. Dr. Lucius Morse, the same man who built Chimney Rock into a top-notch attraction, had a vision for Hickory Nut Gorge. He imagined a resort community complete with hotels, polo fields, a spa and more. The resort would be built around a beautiful mountain lake. At the time, however, there was no lake in Hickory Nut Gorge. The image at right shows the Chimney before Lake Lure was created.

With the financial backing of his brothers, Hiram and Asahel, Dr. Morse formed Chimney Rock Mountains Inc. and began planning for his dream resort town.

In 1925, construction of a dam on the Rocky Broad River began, and in 1927, Lake Lure was completed. Dr. Morse’s wife, Elizabeth Parkenson, named it Lake Lure because of its alluring beauty. The Town of Lake Lure was incorporated in 1927 as well, and soon after, the 1927 Lake Lure Inn opened.

When the economy crashed in 1929, plans for the resort community surrounding Lake Lure came to a halt. The Morse brothers were able to hold onto the acreage that encompassed Chimney Rock Park.

For more on Park history, click here.

Hickory Nut Gorge’s history goes back much further than that of Lake Lure. Once home to Cherokee and Catawba Indians, they believed the Gorge was the gateway to the land of "tso-lungh" – tobacco. They also believed the valley was guarded by the spirits of the "little people" and legends about these mythical people abound today.  

Because the Gorge provides a natural gap in the mountain range, it was most certainly used by early settlers to travel west. Some historians even argue that the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto may have passed through the area.

By 1830, a stagecoach was running a regular route through Hickory Nut Gorge from Rutherfordton to Asheville. With transportation came more and more development.

For more on the fascinating history of Hickory Nut Gorge, including the legends of the "little people," "the ghostly cavalry" and "spectres on the hillsides," click here.

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