Your Subtitle text

History

It was over 100 years ago that Dr. Lucius B. Morse, a practicing physician from St. Louis and recently diagnosed with tuberculosis, made his way to the thermal belt of western North Carolina seeking a more healthful enviroment for his condition.  He fell in love with the area, and was particularly captivated by Chimney Rock, the giant monolith towering over the ten-mile valley known as Hickory Nut Gorge.  He was so moved by the beauty and spectacle of the area that he purchased 64 acres of mountain land including Chimney Rock from Jerome Freeman, who had been operating the site as a tourist attraction for some time.  Dr. Morse paid $5000 for the land, with backing from his brothers Hirem and Asahel.

As Dr. Morse worked to develop the area around Chimney Rock, he would gaze down from the tower to the expanse below, and it was from here that his dream of a year-round resort community, nestled into the shoreline of a beautiful recreational lake, was born.  That dream moved towards reality when Chimney Rock Mountains, Inc, formed by the Morse brothers, raised the funds to purchase 8,000 additional acres, representing the area that today encompasses the lake and the lower reaches of the surrounding mountains.  The brothers also formed the Carolina Mountain Power Company to begin construction of a dam at Tumbling Shoals on the Broad River, together with a power plant and distribution lines.  They obtained a $550,000 mortgage from Stroud and Company of Philadelphia to finance the project.  At about the same time, the brothers also obtained a $1,000,000 mortgage from the Bird Mortgage Company of Asheville, NC to develop the resort area that would surround the lake.  This mortgage was later acquired by the United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company of Baltimore.

The dam was completed in September, 1926 and by 1927, the 720 acre lake with over 20 miles of shoreline was also complete.  Mrs Morse suggested the name Lake Lure.  The Town of Lake Lure was incorporated that same year.

On October 24, 1929, on the eve of the great depression, both morgage companies foreclosed their mortgages, and plans for the resort came to a halt.  Lee Powers, a new resident to the area, was hired by the United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company to liquidate the property they had acquired through foreclosure.  Stroud & Company continued to operate the lake, dam, power plant and distribution lines until 1931, when the assets were transferred to Carolina Mountain Power Company, who operated the property, issued permits for lake structures, and arranged year-to-year lease agreements for the Town to operate recreational facilities on the lake.

The Town acquired the lake in July, 1965 from the Carolina Mountain Power Company and with it, the dam, power plant, and distribution lines, and continues to hold them in trust for the benefit of the citizens of the Town of Lake Lure.  The Morse family retained ownership of Chimney Rock and operated the park as a tourist attaction until 2007, when they sold the park to the State of North Carolina to become what is now Chimney Rock State Park.