"As you take in all of the natural beauty of Lake Lure's environment,
it's easy to forget its existence is very intentional."
- Lori K. Tate
Our State Magazine, August 2011
(This page was taken from "The Mini-History of Lake Lure")
Written by: Carl McIntosh - January 1993
In 1925, the concept of developing a lake in a valley below Chimney Rock at the foot of mountains with oak, maple, pine and hemlock was being considered by several businessmen. For over twenty five years, Dr. Lucius B. Morse, President of Chimney Rock Mountains, Inc. had dreamed about the many possibilities a lake in this area could offer.
In 1902 Dr. Morse and his two brothers bought Chimney Rock Mountain with the granite formation now known as Chimney Rock. This purchase included about 8,000 acres (approximately 12 square miles) with the present site of Lake Lure and the hills and mountains surrounding the lake.
History indicates that this area of Lake Lure in Rutherford County, N. C. was considered neutral ground by the Cherokee and the Catawba Indians. Excavations have rendered evidence of burial mounds with Indian relics being unearthed. Cherokee history speaks of the area having "little people" who were finally frightened away by a medicine man.
Careful observations revealed the presence of azalea, laurel, rhododendron and other flowering shrubs which served as a charming understory with the background of the lofty trees. The Palownia, a flowering tree sometimes called the Empress tree, identified by deep lavender blooms that appear before the leaves grows here.
The climate, usually free of frost and dew most of the year lying within the Thermal Belt, offered the ultimate for a resort atmosphere. Truly one of the best climates in the world caused by rapid moving currents of air slipping downward along the slopes of the surrounding mountains.
The drinking water was declared the purest. Springs abounded everywhere.
This area was accessible to five great railway systems, with only a short motor bus ride. This put the Eastern half of the United States within only a few short hours of this lake site.
A Hydro-Electrical generating system could be installed to create a community power source with revenue potential. A constant level could offer an ideal large body of water with a level not regulated by power needs. The lake could sell about 13,500,000 k.w.h. of electricity per year.
Dr. Lucius B. Morse
Studies showed the lake the shape of a cross could have a dam 104 feet from it's base and 574 feet wide at the top, to include 1200 acres with about twenty-seven miles of shoreline. This concept would have an island of about seven acres and three long bays with many inlets and small bays. It could be a pleasure purpose exclusive lake unlike any in this section. Bold streams, miles of high mountains, with gentle slopes of the Blue Ridge ranges made this the perfect setting for Dr. Morse's dream.
Shape of Lake Lure
Dr. Lucius Morse, who had demonstrated what can be accomplished with vision and foresight coupled with tenacity of purpose essential to the culmination of ideas, is the story of a man with a dream. Born in 1871, the youngest son in the family, he grew up in Missouri. He attended Medical School and was a practicing physician at Cooke County Hospital in Chicago.
He was advised to seek a healthier climate, for he had developed Tuberculosis. He first went to Oklahoma and his condition did not improve. Then he heard of the Thermal Belt in western North Carolina and it's healthful properties and a TB sanatorium in Hendersonville. He came to western North Carolina to investigate.
He made several visits and one of his favorite horseback trips was Hendersonville to Chimney Rock where he could view the giant monolith towering 1,000 feet above the ten-mile gorge. He was so intrigued that he paid a man twenty-five cents to take him by donkey to the top. Here is where Dr. Morse worked untiringly, diligently, and constantly until his death.
In 1902, he called his twin brothers Hiram and Asahel, and asked them to come to the gorge. He explained his idea and prevailed upon them to back him financially, and they purchased the rock. The Morse brothers paid Jerome Freeman, the owner, $5,000. Freeman had purchased it in 1870 for $25.00 for the 400 acres. A total of 8,000 acres were finally purchased for Lake Lure and this location.
(If you would like to purchase a copy of this 34-page booklet, you may contact me directly. I currently have about 50 copies of this left. It is no longer in publication and these are the original books written by Carl McIntosh. After his death his widow, Rosaly McIntosh, sold me the last remaining copies. They are available for $5.00 each, with free shipping and handling. I can accept PayPal.)