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Celebrating 75 Years of the Elevator

Wednesday, May 15th, marks 75 years of operation for Chimney Rock’s famous elevator. The elevator first opened to guests on May 15th, 1949, after 18 months of construction. 

The Morse family, who owned and operated the park for over 100 years, wanted to make the park as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. Part of that dream was installing an elevator through the center of the mountain that allowed guests of all abilities to reach the chimney level. Construction first began on the elevator in fall of 1947 and involved two crews, dozens of drills and jackhammers, and over 18 tons of dynamite. At the time of opening it was the tallest elevator in North Carolina at 26 stories.

The elevator has gone through several significant renovations over its lifetime, including a complete motor replacement in 2017. North Carolina State Parks has continued to invest in the goal of accessibility at the park by supporting the maintenance and updates required to keep such a unique elevator in service. If you visit the park today you can ride the elevator to the Sky Lounge in about 30 seconds, accompanied a Chimney Rock Management attendant.

Scott Mason with WRAL recently did a Tar Heel Traveler feature about this engineering marvel. Watch the story here.