History

The Bridge

The Lake Lure Flowering Bridge is being developed on the historic Rocky Broad River bridge. From 1925 to 2011, the bridge carried traffic on the roadway where US 64, US 74A and NC 9 are joined from the south end of Lake Lure to Bat Cave where the three highways diverge again. In 2011, the North Carolina Department of Transportation completed a new bridge a few yards upstream from the site of the old and closed the older structure to traffic. The historic bridge is 155 feet long and 20 feet wide, and flowers will dot its entire length. Garden space will also extend beyond either end of the bridge itself.

The 1925 bridge is a three-arch span. Its original design included eight light posts topped by decorative lamps. Those were removed years ago, but an effort to locate and/or replicate them in the design of the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge is underway. From the bridge, the famous Chimney Rock, now part of Chimney Rock State Park, is visible upstream and Lake Lure itself is visible downstream where the Rocky Broad flows into the lake.

[If you have any information about the vintage lights used on the bridge or around Lake Lure, please contact us through our Guest Book.]

The Town of Lake Lure

The Town of Lake Lure arose in the Hickory Nut Gorge from the vision of Dr. Lucius B. Morse, drawn to the area by the lure of fresh mountain air that might improve his poor health. Dr. Morse, with the financial backing of his brothers, Hiram and Asahel, purchased 400 acres around Chimney Rock in 1902 from Jerome Freeman for $5,000. Formed as Chimney Rock Mountains, Inc., Morse’s new company acquired more land, extending to 8,000 acres or 12.5 square miles. His vision was to create a resort, including a lake to fill the valley by damming the Rocky Broad River.

Construction of the dam began in 1925 under the aegis of a wholly-owned Morse property, the Carolina Mountain Power Company. The dam was completed in 1926 and the water began to rise behind it, filling the lake to full impoundment in 1927. The shoreline of Lake Lure is about 27 miles and the lake covers approximately 720 acres. Its average water level is about 990 feet above sea level with surrounding mountain ridges creating one of the most beautiful man-made lakes in the world. It was named by Dr. Morse’s wife, Elizabeth.

The Town of Lake Lure was incorporated in 1927 with the filling of the lake itself. Although the lake was originally owned by Carolina Mountain Power Company, it was acquired by the Town of Lake Lure in 1965. Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge in which it sits have hosted people from around the world, including leaders like President Franklin D. Roosevelt and movie stars like Patrick Swayze and Daniel Day Lewis. Portions of both Dirty Dancing and The Last of the Mohicans were filmed here.

[Additional details about the town’s history and current operation are available at www.townoflakelure.com.]

The Hickory Nut Gorge

Long before Lake Lure was formed, Cherokee and Catawba Indians lived in the Hickory Nut Gorge. It is believed that the gorge was considered sacred ground to these tribal people, a place where rivalries were set aside because of its spiritual significance.

A natural gap through the mountains, the gorge formed by the Rocky Broad River provided a gateway to the west. In about 1815, the building of the Hickory Nut Turnpike, also known as Drovers Road, made stagecoach travel possible between Rutherfordton and Asheville. The road was used to drive cattle and other livestock to market. Settlers soon followed, some homesteading along the way. The Harris Inn, now known as Pine Gables, was a stagecoach stop in the 1830s, and still stands on Boys Camp Road today.

Not one, but two very special geological sites are in the gorge. In addition to the Chimney Rock and the spectacular rock formations around it, there is Bat Cave, the largest natural fissure cave in the United States. The area is also home to a wide variety of plant and animal life. Topography and even weather vary widely through this landscape, providing homes for species, both common and rare. The green salamander and Indiana bat have been found in Bat Cave. Designated an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society, the gorge is home to peregrine falcons and migrating neotropical songbirds. The white irisette is found here, a rare and endangered herb.