By Russ Meade


Lake Lure, NC

Perhaps the most beautiful place in this world is the Hickory Nut Gorge of western NC!


It is a place where my wife Joan Meade and I decided many years ago to raise our family, Suzy Meade, Missy Meade Flynn and now our Granddaughter Olivia Gates , Grandson Kelly Flynn  and spend the remaining years of our live enjoying the beauty and, more importantly the people of this unique area.


It is an area  that has an exciting and fascinating  history of Little People myths, brave settlers, Cherokee Indians, hidden towns, the Underground Railroad, ghost stories,  and  courageous people who settled here who are what has made this area and the US the greatest place on earth!

“THE HICKORY NUT GORGE starts at the Eastern Continental Divide in Gerton, NC…about 20 minutes from Asheville, and runs through the communities of Gerton, Bat Cave, and Chimney Rock, and ends 10 miles later at Lake Lure–dropping about 1800 feet. Route 74 runs along it with 14 hairpin curves. This spectacular gorge is located on the edge of the Blue Ridge Escarpment, with exfoliated granite dome outcrops and sheer cliffs on either side with the Rocky Broad River running most of the way through it. It was formed by the action of high-gradient streams cutting through the escarpment, probably assisted by local geologic faults, to reach the North Carolina Piedmont below. Breathtaking topographic features include peaks, broad ridgetops and narrow spur ridges, smooth dome-shaped rock outcrops and uneven, irregular summit rock outcrops, sheer bluffs and cliffs, steep slopes and coves, waterslides and waterfalls, and boulder-strewn streambeds. ”Rose Senehi

Perhaps the best description of our area is:


THERE ARE PLACES ON THIS EARTH that touch the soul with the sheer power of their magnitude. The Hickory Nut Gorge in Western North Carolina is such a place. Evident in its people is a distinctive characteristic that has resurfaced over and over throughout generations and echoes within the whole community, for it is the very thing that brought them together in the first place. And even now, this monolithic gorge still has the power to siphon out, from the thousands of people who come each year; those with certain cast of mind, and draw them close to its bosom.” From: In the Shadows of Chimney Rock by Rose Senehi

Please see the following for a brief history of this totally unique area. If there are changes, corrections or pictures that you would like to share please e-mail me at any time.

I hope that you enjoy and add to our vibrant history!

Russ Meade


Lake Lure, NC

ca 8,000 – 500 BC Early Archaic Period: indians

larger Indian populations began to live impermanent or   semi-permanent sites, and, toward the end of the period, began to cultivate some plants for    food, although still relying heavily on hunting and gathering of wild food

ca.  6000 – 3000 BC Middle Archaic Period.

Subsistence hunting and gathering.  American Indian groups traveled through, and may have encamped, along Rocky Broad River.  Stone implements of period excavated in Chimney Rock.

5000 BC

Uriah Stones navigated up an off-shoot of the Cumberland River in 1766, what is now Rutherford County was habituated by Native Americans. Note: axe head dating to 5000-4000 BC, middle Archaic Period was found on the property of Bob Wald rjwald1@bellsouth.net

ca. 3000 – 1000 BC Late Archaic period.

Beginnings of trade and technology. Probable movement of American Indian groups through gorge on seasonal round. More permanent base camps. ca.  1000 BC – 1500 AD Woodland Period.  Pisgah phase of prehistoric Cherokee culture.  (Warren Wilson and Garden Creek sites).  Plant domestication and cultivation.  Mound building.  (Mound with artifacts excavated twelve miles southeast of Chimney Rock.)

ca.  1500 – 1850 AD CHEROKEE

Cherokee use Hickory Nut Gap for travel between mountains and flatlands.   The Hickory Nut Hickory Nut Gorge was a sacred area, or neutral ground of Cherokee and neighboring Catawba tribes. When the Catawba Indians ( Catawba means “river people, “the name used by themselves was Iyeye (people) or Nieye(real people ) met a Cherokee Indian in the Gorge, they could not kill each other as the Gorge was SACRED ground! ( Note: the concept of the HNG being  a” sacred”, ” mystical, ” magical”, ” spiritual” area is found in numerous stories of both the Cherokees and Catawba Indians.

ca 1500little-people-5little-people


Please see the article I wrote on THE LITTLE PEOPLE OF HICKORY NUT GORGE on the Menu  above

The  story of ” “little people” inhabiting the Gorge and the sacred stories of the dried leaf of tobacco being a part of that sacredness in the Gorge is a fascinating study) Myths develop – Little People. The early settlers found gold, tso-lungh (a magical, legendary tobacco), legends of talking animals ,the mysterious” Little People ”who lived among the craggy peaks of the gorge and awesome mountain from which came ominous and sometimes terrifying sounds SEE ALSO: THE LITTLE PEOPLE OF OUR MOUNTAINS

An excellent book to read for yourself, your children, and grandchildren about the Ghosts of our area is  Mountain ghost Stories and Curious Tales of Western North Carolina, Randy Russell and Janet Barnett, John Blair, Publisher, Winston-Salem NC 1998.

ca 1500

Bill’s Creek Road starts out as a “Cherokee trail to return to the North Carolina Piedmont… The rutted mud trail became part of what was to be called “The Rutherford Trace”. Over time, the trail grew into a wagon route for Scotch-Irish settlers who were moving into the Blue Ridge. By the 1930’s the trail was paved, and was called Bill’s Creek Road, after a small stream that flowed from nearby Bill’s Mountain.” From Historic Bill’s Creek https://blueridgeimpressions.wordpress.com/2014/06/14/along-historic-bills-creek-road-near-lake-lure/


English explorers James Needham and Gabriel Arthur traverse Hickory Nut Gap.

ca 1730

The earliest settlers in what is now Rutherford County probably came here around 1730. They were primarily German and Scotch-Irish. Throughout the mountains the majority were the Scotch-Irish like those that settled in the Cane Creek area and later formed Britain Church. They brought their own ordained ministers with them. These Presbyterian Ministers were college trained and served also as educators. These settlers were becoming educated, and could read their own bibles ca.  1760 First group of settlers arrive in Hickory Nut Gorge, predominantly Scotch-Irish. They had traveled down the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania

1763King George

King George set-aside the land west of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina to the Cherokee and prohibited the entry of white settlers. However, tensions between Britain and the colonies rendered the Proclamation useless, and settlers began to move westward, encroaching on Cherokee lands

ca 1770

Lost Gold on Round Top Mountain While traveling on or near Round Top Mountain with a wagon load of gold, several Englishmen were attacked .The men prepared to ship their gold to Charleston, but Native Americans killed all but one of the Englishmen. The sole survivor, blinded in the attack, made his way back to England, where he attempted to draw a crude map to the mine. But to date, no one had found the lost gold mine. The gold is still believed by many to be hidden under some rocks or in the many caves that dot this mountain directly across from Chimney Rock.

See http://www.treasurenet.com/forums/north-carolina/416580-round-top-mountain-legend.html


Tryon County was formed from Mecklenburg County in 1768. Old Tryon County was divided into Lincoln and Rutherford Counties in April 1779. Rutherford County was named for Brigadier General Griffith Rutherford of Rowan County, North Carolina; Brigadier General Rutherford was a famous Revolutionary War soldier.  From: http://www.rutherfordcountync. gov/history.php. See also: http://www.rootsweb.com/~tnsumner/rutherg.htm

1776General Griffith Rutherford

During the Revolutionary War the citizens of Rutherford County, were troubled by both Indian and Tory attacks. The Tories under Major Patrick Ferguson camped at Gilbertown and scouted the area for food and supplies. To escape Ferguson the people took refuse in the following forts: McGaughy; McFadden; Potts; Hampton; Mumfords; and Earle. General Griffith Rutherford led 2,400 Militia to fight the Cherokee in western North Carolina.  In what is now Murphy, Rutherford established his headquarters and organized soldiers from South Carolina and Virginia to crush the Cherokee.” The patriot militia expedition of September 1776, led by Gen. Griffith Rutherford and known afterward as the Rutherford Trace, sought to eliminate Cherokees as a British ally and punish them for attacking white settlements. In one month, Rutherford’s men left dozens of Western North Carolina Cherokee villages in ruins with hundreds of acres of crops destroyed and livestock killed or seized. “(Michael Beadle, See http://www.smokymountainnews.com/issues/08_06/08_23_06/fr_rutherford_trace.html ). For additional information on GENERAL GRIFFITH RUTHERFORD see the article By Gary Rutherford Harding


John McFadding deeds 100 acres on “both sides of main Broad River” to Isham Revise for “forty pounds currency, white horse, two Negroes”. Revise later moves to Kentucky, then Missouri.  Issues first deed of emancipation of slaves- Saline County, Missouri- 1827


Rutherford County formed from Tryon County. It was named in honor of Griffith Rutherford, one of the most prominent of the Revolutionary patriots. He led the expedition that crushed the Cherokees in 1776, and rendered important services both in the Legislature and on the battlefield. It is in the southwestern section of the State and is bounded by the state of South Carolina and Polk, Henderson, McDowell, Burke and Cleveland counties


The Overmountain soldiers marched through Rutherford County on October 3-5, 1780 on their way to meet Major Ferguson at the Battle of Kings Mountain. This battle took place October 7, 1780 and was the turning point of the war. The trail of march has since become known as the “Overmountain Victory Trail.” It became the second national historical trail in America when President Jimmy Carter signed it into law on October 7, 1980. There is a national historical honor for Rutherford County, as part of the trail passes through the county.


“Life, following the revolutionary War, in Rutherford County was not in the best of conditions. Life offered little. Most activity took place on the farm: planting of grain, raising cattle and sheep, and growing food for the table. The loom furnished clothes for the family. Skins from animals were tanned; furs from wild animals were secured to provide additional clothing. The pioneer homes were built from the surrounding forest. Furniture and furnishings for the home were also made from the woods of the forest. The plantations and farms were small. Land could be bought for a nominal fee paid to the state for a grant. Each land owner tilled his soil, sometimes assisted by a slave or two. The farmer drove cattle and took surplus agricultural products over the best road leading from Morganton to Charleston, South Carolina. At Charleston at the market they could then buy staple products to take back home. Schooling was received in the home. The Bible was sometimes the only textbook available” from Rutherford County History http://www.rutherfordhistory.com/county.html


First church in area and only the second in the county established – Bill’s Creek Missionary Baptist Church To see the records of Burials in Bill’s Creek Church, please click on W.D. Floyd (wdfloyd@rfci.net)’s excellent work!

Bills Creek Baptist - 1902Dipping Hole Bills Creek Baptist Church

(Bills Creek Baptist  Church- 1902) (      The Dipping Pool)


North Carolina voted for the Constitution (195 to 77) 1791 in 1791 parts of Rutherford County and Burke County were combined to form Buncombe County. In 1841 parts of Rutherford County and Lincoln County were combined to form Cleveland County. In 1842 additional parts of Rutherford County and Burke County were combined to form McDowell County. Finally, in 1855 parts of Rutherford County and Henderson County were combined to form Polk County.


The court house moved to the new town of Rutherfordton.


Speculation Land Company founded by Tenche S Coxe Active for 125 years in development of local mountain land.


John and Nancy Ann” Ashworth survey the land that was to become the Sherrill Inn. Ann an accomplished herb doctor, cast spells, cursed people who crossed her and was charged with sorcery by Cane Creek Baptist Church!

ca Early 1800’sAVR- Article


Ghost town of Ayr thrived from the early 1800s until shortly after 1900 when the main road from Rutherfordton to Chimney Rock and Asheville was relocated (now US 64 and old 74) Named for Ayrshire, Scotland, it had a posttoffice and general store in addition to the tan yard which made leather goods for the Confederate Army. In the 1970s. Two wooden buildings were still standing (barely) and the foundation for a large tannery was clearly visible along with the trace for water coming down Cedar Creek. The old road bed was already grown over then.

Ayr is located at near the junction of Bill’s creek and cove creek.  The nearest road is at the end of St John’s Church Road in the Bill’s Creek Community. St Johns runs south from Freeman Town Road. This is on private property. Be sure to get permission. I do not know who owns the property now.

The now Ghost Town of Ayr had its own post Office. The first Postmaster was:

Thomas R. Egerton It opened on: 6/16/1880 2/15/1911


John Ashworth Purchases large tract of land at western end of Hickory Nut Gap.


First published reports of settlers seeing ghost troops of cavalry and others around and above Chimney Rock.   “Celestial battle on July 31, 1806. Mrs. Patsy Reaves reported that she and her two children had seen “a very numerous crowd of beings” atop Chimney Rock. Five years later, a husband and wife reported seeing two armies of horsemen high above the cliffs. The heavenly combatants, armed with swords, rode winged horses and slashed at each other in deadly combat. On at least three other occasions, residents reported similar sights. Many thought the end of the world was at hand.” by Robert Williams “Legends of Hickory Nut Gorge

1815 Drovers Road

The dirt road was improved and became Hickory Nut Gorge Turnpike. Also known as Drover’s Road, it was used by herders to get cattle, hogs, geese, turkeys, pigs and other animals to market to be sold purchases for goods or cash needed in outlying mountain communities. See: Drover’s Road


the mining interest of the State is now only second to the farming interest.”  So wrote a reporter of the Western Carolinian of Salisbury in 1825.  But according to historians Richard D. Knapp and Brent D. Glass in Gold Mining in North Carolina (1999) the average Tar Heel did not fall victim to gold fever.  Nevertheless, there was enough demand by 1830 for a Charlotte-based Miners’ and Farmers’ Journal to begin publication.


Buffalo Cemetery, Lake Lure. Located in Rumbling Bald Resort on Lake Lure. For a list of those buried here, please click here. First body in Buffalo Cemetery at Rumbling Bald Mountain Resort-   Mary Russel, 94 years June 20, 1828.


The General Assembly appropriated $12,000, through the Board of Internal Improvements, to complete a road through Hickory Nut Gap to Asheville.   “With the these improved roads, farmers from Western North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky had an accessible way of getting their farm products to market, and could greatly increase their supplies and profit by transporting goods by wagons. However, the best way to market their corn was by feeding it to hogs, cattle, and turkeys. In late fall, farmers gathered their hogs, cattle, horses, mules, turkeys, or ducks for the trip to markets in Charleston, South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia. The roads were alive with livestock for the next two months. Men called drovers led these herds of animals to market. The drovers relied on helpers, usually young boys, to keep the animals moving by cracking whips tied with strips of red flannel. Depending on the type of livestock, drovers could travel six to twenty miles each day. Hogs, the most numerous animal on the turnpike, could only travel six to eight miles a day. Every eight or ten miles along the road, there would be a “stand” where animals could be fed and penned outdoors and the men could find hospitality indoors. Although this route was used by all sorts of traffic, it gradually received the name of the Drovers’ Road.” ( By Alex S. Caton, Director of Education, 199 9Revised by Rebecca Lamb, Executive Director, 2001, 2003, 200 4Smith-McDowell House Museum

1830 – 1860The Rocky Broad River before the dam was built

Hickory Nut Turnpike through Hickory Nut Gap becomes extensively used as toll road for stagecoach travel.  Tri-weekly round trips from Lincolnton to Asheville via Rutherfordton.


Bechtler Mint Site (*NRHP near Rutherfordton, North Carolina. Gold mines and prospectors supplied gold to the mint and Bechtler’s gold coins were widely accepted in trade and are now highly prized by coin collectors. C. Bechtler operated his mint until 1838 and then his son, Augustus Bechtler, operated it until 1857. In the meantime the U.S. had established mints at Dahlonega, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina; yet the private operations of Bechtler were not interfered with, for the reason, it was said, that the Bechtler coins were found to equal or exceed the federal standards of fineness and weight. From 1831 to 1840 the mint coined $2,241, 840 in gold coin plus more than a million pennyweights. (A four acre site was donated to the Historical Society and now the owned by Rutherford County. A master plan is being developed as the first step in establishing a visitor prepared historic site. The site will link to significant other Bechtler and gold history in the Town of Rutherfordton where the Bechtler home, later the site of the mint and a jewelry and gunsmith shop were located. (The site is not currently open to the public.)Contact:  John Condrey, Rutherford County Manager 828-287-6060 or jcond@blueridge.net (Link to ttp://www.southerngoldsociety.org/bechtlers.html

1834SHERILL INN.jpg2

Bedford Sherrill Purchases John Ashworth Property and establishes Sherrill Inn ten miles west of Chimney Rock.   Becomes stage coach stop.  Later becomes McClure farm and home.


Pine  Gables opened by Dr. John Washington Harris.  Becomes stagecoach stop in 1830’s. Harris Inn, later known as the Logan House, the Red Coach Inn and Pine Gables.” The Harris Inn, now known as Pine Gables, is a large three-story frame building encompassing two log structures. “The two story log structures of the saddlebag variety (two log houses built on either side of a large chimney) have been raised to three stories and weather boarded. The log section to the west is approximately 30′ X 21′. The log section to the East is approximately 22′ X
21′. The massive hand shewn logs used for the walls are cornered with half dovetail cuts. The foundation is irregular coursed uncut rock. In ca. 1834 the two-story log structure was encased with boards. Ca. 1877 the house was enlarged with large frame building additions

1838 – 1839Trail

“ Trail of Tears”. Cherokee and other tribes removed from tribal lands to the Indian Territory of eastern Oklahoma pursuant to the Indian Removal Act of 1830.  Some Cherokees manage to escape and hide out in the North Carolina mountains .See: Trail of Tears


Post office established near present day Bat Cave along Hickory Nut Turnpike.


Rutherford County Poorhouse (Rutherfordton) in existence in 1848 See Poorhouse History

ca.  1861 – 1865Underground-159x134Undergroud ROAD

Underground Railroad moves slaves northward through Bat Cave area. It allowed slaves to flee the Plantation located at Greenhill: Fox Haven Plantation, circa 17759 s1866 Harris Tavern becomes Logan House after purchase by Judge George W. Logan.  Subsequently leased in 1877 by James M. Flack.


  • Secession of the state of North Carolina from the American Union.
  • One thousand seven hundred and thirty four men from Rutherford County were in the service during the Civil War. On March 25, 1865 Union Gen. George Stoneman led 6,000 cavalrymen from Tennessee into western North Carolina and southwestern Virginia to disrupt the Confederate supply lines, destroy mines and iron works and to free prisoners at Salisbury. Word of Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston’s surrender at Durham (April 26, 1865) reached Union Gen. George Stoneman’s raiders near here along with news of Confederate president Jefferson Davis’s flight through North Carolina. Troops camped in the Hickory Nut Gorge were ordered to pursue Davis, which they did until he was captured in Georgia.See: http://www.civilwartraveler.com/northcarolina/nc-more.html

1870Chimney Rock Baptist

  • First Church in Chimney Rock established – Chimney Rock Baptist Church.

1874Rumbling Bald Mountain - OLD

Series of earthquakes begins on January 3, 1874. Centered in Bald Mountain (Rumbling Bald).  Religious panic occurs in and around Hickory Nut Gorge. “The mystery of Rumbling Bald Mountain began (during modern history) in 1874 as tremors rattled dishes and broke windows. Dust, smoke and eerie sounds emanated from the rugged peak as shocks dislodged boulders inside the mountain and opened massive fissures. Residents were terrified, and even the National Speleological Society sent scientists from Washington, D.C., to investigate.  “From Carolina Country Magazine.  For a great article on this event , SEE The Mountain that rumbled

The first textile plant located in an old wheat mill on the Second Broad River near present day Henrietta opened. It manufactured cotton yarn and employed fifty persons but operated only a few months before being destroyed by fire in 1885


Jerome B. Freeman Purchases 400 acres of land including Chimney Rock from the Speculation Company, for 25 dollars.

1880 Chimney Rock Post Office opens.


Smallest post office in the US established at Uree (the present day Bill’s Creek Community”. It measured 9×12 and had no boxes as everyone was known and the mailed handed to the citizens.Mr. B.F. Egerton was appointed the first postmaster and served until his death in 1914 when his daughter Mrs. W.F. Whiteside’s was appointed in his place. From: “Good Old Uree” by Martha Jane Norbitt Melton

Uree- Post Office

(Smallest post office in the US established at Uree)


First bridge over Rocky Broad River leading in to Chimney Rock. The bridge was destroyed in the 1916 flood. :”That is the original ticket booth and later a soda shop that was owned and run by my grandparents, Joseph Duffy Flack and Undine Whiteside Flack. They and their daughters lived upstairs.” LuVerne Haydock 1/2017



Chimney Rock opened to the public by J. B. Freeman.


Logan, George Washington (1815-1889) — of North Carolina. Born in Rutherford County, N.C., and February 22, 1815. Representative from North Carolina in the Confederate Congress, 1864-65; delegate to North Carolina state constitutional convention, 1865; member of North Carolina state legislature, 1866-68; state court judge in North Carolina, 1868-74. Died in Chimney Rock, Rutherford County, N.C., October 18, 1889. Interment at St. Francis Episcopal Cemetery, Rutherfordton, N.C.

1890 – 1893

J. B. Freeman Purchases acreage in gorge from M. L. Toms, H. and S. Ewart, J. W. and L. C. Freeman, and J. H. and L. Freeman.

1892Whiteside Valley Church

Whitesides Valley Baptist Church & Cemetery & the Ledbetter Store was organized. The Church is now Chimney Rock Baptist Church. The Whiteside Church was located in the Valley that is now Lake Lure. It was named after .J. M. Whitesides the Pastor for many years.


Col. Thomas Turner opens Esmeralda Inn.  Turner family operates inn until 1937. The Historic Esmeralda Inn is located in Chimney Rock, NC. The original Inn burned down in 1916 and rebuilt in 1917. 1917 Inn burned to the ground in 1997. Rebuilt from the ground up, the Inn re-opened in October of 1999 with the assistance of Preservation North Carolina. The Esmeralda has housed a number of movie stars who were in the area making movies, including Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Gloria Swanson, William S. Hart and Clark Gable. Author Lew Wallace finished the script for “Ben Hur” in Room 9. The Esmeralda Inn was named after the screenplay “Esmeralda”, written by Francis Hodges Burnett. Ms. Burnett wrote this play while staying at the Logan House.  Esmeralda was the longest running Broadway play in the 1800’s Whitesides Valley Baptist Church was organized.  The Church is now Chimney Rock Baptist Church. The Whiteside Church was located in the Valley that is now Lake Lure. It was named after .J. M. Whitesides the Pastor for many years.


George P. Horton opens Mountain View Inn across from Chimney Rock. 1897 Florence Mill built by Raleigh Rutherford Hayns See the following for a Time Line for Rutherford County Mills: Time Line for Mills in Rutherford County

1898Mountain view innJames Mills Flack

James M. And Lavena Flack purchase Mountain View Inn.

James Mills Flack and his family owned and operated The Mountain View Inn in Chimney Rock from 1898 until 1947. In 1947 the Inn was sold and it burned to the ground in 1956.This photo shows James at the wheel of the mechanism used to bring water from a spring for use at the Inn.

1920: Stills and Bootleggers flourish in our area!

Bootlagers Still- November 28, 1929

The United States officially became a dry country, as the 18th Amendment banning the sale, production, importation, and transportation of alcoholic beverages went into effect.

In our area this only encouraged a new industry! This just goes to show you that our area is still the best place to party!


J. B. Freeman sells sixty-four acres including Chimney Rock to Dr. Lucius B. Morse And brothers for $5000.00 1906 Church of the Transfiguration, established


For the Census of Rutherford County in 1910 please click here


Jones, Woodrow Wilson (b. 1914) — also known as Woodrow W. Jones — of Rutherfordton, Rutherford County, N.C.Born in Green Hill Township, Rutherford County, N.C., January 26, 1914. Democrat. Member of North Carolina state house of representatives, 1947; U.S. Representative from North Carolina 11th District, 1950-57; federal judge, 1968


Rutherfordton – Asheville highway completed.


Construction on graded road to Chimney Rock Park begins.

CR- The Chimney before the Safety Railing


Major flood causes extensive damage in gorge, kills eight in Bat Cave, and destroys Chimney Rock Bridge:

The Flood of 1916 was the worst natural disaster in the history of our area
Rain began July 3, 1916, and it rained for 10 days. On July 15, 10 inches of rain fell in less than 12 hours. Trees were denuded absolutely of every vestige of bark. Rocks were ground smooth. Buildings were carried away in the irresistible rush. Nature had been long preparing the mountains for the catastrophe, and not for a hundred years could such another disaster happen to the mountains there.

The road and all its bridges were totally washed away, as were the Gerton, Bearwallow, Bat Cave and Chimney Rock Post Offices. Middle Fork, between Gerton and Bat Cave, was one of the areas most affected by the flood. The sides of the mountains gave way; one farmer could only stand by and watch as the mountain collapsed and swept away his house. The farmer’s wife and all his children were killed. At least two who died in the flood are buried in Middle Fork Cemetery. Many other bodies were never found, and many people who lost everything could not afford to mark their loved ones’ graves.”There was no means of communication between towns in Western North Carolina and the rest of the state except by foot.” From http://hendersonheritage.com/flood-of-1916/

See the following for some fantastic pictures and article of this greatest disaster in our  area:



Esmeralda Inn destroyed by fire


Cliff Dweller’s Inn opens on Chimney Rock Mountain.

Dr. Morse and his wife Betty occupied the Cliff Dwellers Inn at Chimney Rock and continued to formulate his plans for the property. He conceived the idea of building a dam on the Rocky Broad River to create a lake and the possibility of a year-round resort.


Chimney Rock School no 10

“Chimney Rock School #10 was a building with three classrooms and an auditorium that was built near what is now near the middle of Lake Lure. In 1925 the school was discontinued because of the flooding taking place for the lake.

Chimney Rock School was located next to Barzilla’s Ledbetter’s store which also sat along the river valley”   Submitted by Daphne Clontz Waug


Lucius Morse conceives large summer resort in area.  Chimney Rock Mountains, Inc. is formed.


Chimney Rock Mountains, Inc. Purchases 8000 acres east of Chimney Rock Park.

1925DAM BEING BUILT 2Lake Lure Dam

Construction of Lake Lure Dam begins.

1926LL Inn

Morse sells Chimney Rock and adjoining land to Chimney Rock Mountains, Inc. Construction of the Lake Lure Inn begins.

1926 –Town of Buffalo buildings torn down, graves moved  before being flooded over
In 1926 the town of Buffalo was flooded to create Lake Lure. Barzille had to move his family, his home, his store and blacksmith shop before the flooding began. Barzille wanted to sell the truck for parts and a man had agreed to buy it, so Barzille left it for the man to pick up before the lake was formed.” For an interesting article on a jeep that was left behind see. http://www.thedigitalcourier.com/news/forestcity/x1505316586/The-Legend-Lives
 William Joe Jay Kiser (“Strawberry Kiser”) 1903-1979 was the one that left the truck at the bottom of Lake Lure. He assisted in building the lake and stated when he was offered land around the lake for 50 cents an acre….in his own words “You couldn’t farm it, you can’t grow anything on it, you can’t put cows on it…it’s worthless” Reported by Grandson Todd Kiser


Lake Lure created and filled .Lake Lure covers approximately 720 acres and has a shoreline of approximately 27 miles


Town of Lake Lure chartered. Lake Lure Inn Opens


Lake Lure School transportation (school buses & drivers) 1927 – 1930 (From the book “Precious Memories, Bill’s Creek Community, Lake Lure, North Carolina” written by a cousin, Virginia Dare Dalton Wilson)


Power plant began operations with the sale of electricity under a 10-year contract to Blue Ridge Power Co., a local predecessor of Duke Power, The town continues to sell electricity to Duke Power, although profits from the dam now come second to maintaining a fixed water level year-round for the residents of the Lake Lure area. Great depression stops or slows development of Lake Lure and Chimney Rock projects. L. Morse and brothers repossess original Chimney Rock Company property.


Fire in the heart of Chimney Rock Village destroys nine buildings. ” The Log Shop” built by John Delevene   The building is now know as ” Point Of View Restaurant” It was run by L. M. Pearson’s father and then LM. LM was also a past mayor of Lake Lure.

Mary Flack Arrowood was the elementary school principal. Mary Watson Hamrick, taught there during WWII.



LAke Lure Lumber Co.

The old Lake Lure/Chimney Rock Lumber Co. was across Bills Creek Rd from the now library. The Lumber Co. was located where along Broad River where the today present Church is situated. The photo was taken around 1934-35 during the Depression. The Lumber Co. closed sometime around 1954….but the old buildings were still present for many years as I remember them daily going to and from school.” Randolph Wilson 3/2016



LLCA is currently (2015) situated where this building was. The space in front of the rock wall is the current parking lot. Our playgrounds were on two levels to the left of this picture and went all the way to Harris Road on the west.

ca 1950

Western NC Sceniic Railroad

The Western North Carolina Scenic Railroad and Amusement Park built. It was located where the present Welcome Center now stands in Lake Lure. “The Welcome Center building was originally the train station and was the only permanent structure built. There was no other building on that property then. I believe the train only operated 2 seasons. The whistle reverberated through the gorge and could get a bit annoying.” Clyde Keller.  To see the type of locomotive that operated here see : http://www.gcrm.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=115  The Amusement Park closed in the lake 1960’s

ca 1952

the first TV in the Bill’s Creek Community arrives and is set up at the Dalton Store by Mr. Wallace Early .It was coin operated And 30 minutes of TV cost 25 cents. Men gathered here to see the latest TV, sit around the pot- bellied stove, talk, while the children played horse shoes outside the store. The first grocery store in Lake Lure opens in the building behind the Lake Lure Inn.


Dirt Road finally paved from Bill’s Creek Community to Marion Telephone Service finally reaches the Bill’s Creek Community


Mountain View Inn destroyed by fire.1981

1958Thunder Road

movie “Thunder Road” starring Robert Mitchum was filmed on the roads between Rutherfordton and Lake Lure

See video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUFt42urcmk

Late 1950’s-to  early 1960’s: Ghost Town in the Sky

Ghost Town

Located across from the present entrance of Chimney Rock there was a tourist ghost town high on the mountain that was accessed by a chairlift. It was know as Carson City , Silver Dollar City, Ghost Town in the Sky.

“Carson City, located at Chimney Rock, was built by former TV and movie cowboy Sunset Carson. During the Summer there was to be wild west shows with trick shooting exhibitions, etc. Carson City was built on the side of a mountain 1,490 feet high, and had a chair lift taking tourists to the top. There was a 300 foot waterfall and a 3,000 foot cliff behind the town. Sunset planned on having a Cowboy Convention there once a year, where tourists and visitors would see personalities like, Ben Johnson, Don” Red” Barry, Rory Calhoun, Pancho, Chill Wills, and Sunset’s side-kick, Frog and many more. Now most of those he had wanted to appear there, are also gone, as is Carson City”Todd Lavender

Mid 1960’s- Lake Lure had its own train!

Lake Lure Train

“It was bright red, green and black and had a big smokestack.  The Western North Carolina Scenic Railroad Company was formed and tracks laid around the area that is now Morse Park.  A building, now the Welcome Center, was built as a train station and flags flew to welcome folks.  There were ideas floated to expand the attraction to include a paddle-wheeler on the lake and various amusement rides.

The company operated about two years with its headquarters in the Arcade Building before going bankrupt in 1968.  The small locomotive #48 that pulled the passenger cars was built in 1922 by ALCO-Cooke Works in Patterson, NJ and it is now exhibited at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami, FL with its original black paint”: From The Mountain Breeze


ARTHUR T. BALLARD, JR. Lieutenant Colonel – United States Air Force Shot Down: September 26, 1966                                                     Released frpm POW camp Vietnam: March 4, 1973   SEE: http://www.pownetwork.org/bios/b/b077.htm      After clicking on the story of Lt..Col. Ballard, please do click here for a great Video of why we need to remember!


Margaret Flinsch began making gifts of undivided interest in the Bat Cave natural area to The Nature Conservancy. The preserve is now co-owned by Mrs. Flinsch and The Nature Conservancy   Margaret Flinsch began making gifts of undivided interest in the Bat Cave natural area to The Nature Conservancy. The preserve is now co-owned by Mrs. Flinsch and The Nature Conservancy. The Flinsches had owned the property since the 1920s.

Invasive species such as tree-of-heaven, multi flora rose, Japanese grass, wine berry, And Japanese honeysuckle threaten the preserve’s native plants. North Carolina Chapter staff and volunteers are battling these exotic plants through the invasive species program”. From The NC Nature Conservancy

1981Marshall Tucker Band

,the Marshall Tucker Band made a video based on their song “Silverado” at the former Carson City park in Chimney Rock.This image and the two that follow are from the June 6, 1981 issue of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.


A Breed Apart staring  Kathleen Turner, Rutger Hauer, and Powers Boothe This visually beautiful eco-interest film, distributed more broadly in Europe than the US, was shot almost entirely on and around Lake Lure.Firestarter staring  Drew Barrymore, David Keith, and George C. Scott  filmed in Lake Lure.

1987Dirty Dancing

Dirty Dancing, starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey filmed in Lake Lure

Buildings at the former Chimney Rock Camp for Boys doubled as the cabins where, in the film, Baby was first mesmerized by the sight of Johnny and friends dirty dancing. The finale – in which Baby and Johnny dance in front of her parents – was filmed in the boys’ gym and the water beside the camp was where the pair practiced that famous dance lift.

The people who built a house on the plot where the dining hall used to stand – where Baby first awkwardly danced with Johnny – are Dirty Dancing fans and incorporated the hall’s foundation stone into their home. And you can still see the remains of the gym, where that final dramatic dance scene was filmed.

A discreet sign on one of the resort’s two championship golf courses labels a major scene from the movie

1990 Lake Lure Marina build

1991 Chimney Rock Village incorporates.


20th Century Fox films “The Last of the Mohegan’s” in Chimney Rock Park .Romantic adventure Last of the Mohicans starred Daniel Day-Lewis and Madeleine Stowe


Major flood causes extensive damage in Hickory Nut Gorge. Numerous buildings destroyed, steel bridges washed away, lake closed due to propane tanks floating in the lake. Roads closed due to trees blocking all access roads   Thirteen inches of rain falls in three hours – September 4.


“My Fellow Americans” Movie starring Jack Lemon and James Garner filmed in Lake Lure


Esmeralda Inn destroyed by fire

. 1999

Comprehensive zoning ordinance approved for Chimney Rock Village.


As of the census of 2000, there were 175 people, 74 households, And 50 families residing in the village of Chimney Rock. As of the census of 2000, there were 1,027 people, 495 households, and 359 families residing in Lake Lure. As of the census² of 2000, there were 62,899 people, 25,191 households, and 17,935 families residing in the county


Referendum to allow liquor by the drink defeated 69 to 31 percent. (Defeated 1995 with 56% against, 1999 with 76% against.) 2005 North Carolina House and Senate pass, And Governor Signs, bill to create Hickory Nut Gorge State Park.


1000 acre Chimney Rock Park offered for sale to the public for $55 R. State of North Carolina had offered $20 million. •        Web-site set up to assist in contacting the governor’s office, the Morse family, and others.   •        Lake Lure Beach And Golf Resort changes its name to Rumbling Bald Resort on Lake Lure.


  • The state’s purchase of Chimney Rock Park took another step forward Tuesday as the Council of State approved the purchase of the privately owned natural area for $24 million
  • Conservation Groups start planning for an comprehensive trail system through the Hickory Nut Gorge


Lake Lure Flowering Bridge opened!

Officially dedicated Oct. 19, 2013, the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge blooms on the historic 1925 Rocky Broad River bridge in Lake Lure, NC. When the bridge was closed to traffic in 2011, the Friends of the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge came together to create gardens on the 155 feet of the bridge and along a pathway at both ends of the three-arch span itself. With an emphasis on native plants, the Friends mission is to create a “Gateway to Somewhere Beautiful” for the enjoyment of the public.

Click here to read the latest Lake Lure Flowering Bridge Newsletter.

Click here to see a great article and video about the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge in Blue Ridge Country magazine.

2015-September 1st


Lake Lure Classical Academy  move into their permanent home



  1. Clyde Keller

    Your event for 2007 is completely wrong. Please confirm actual dates with town of lake lure. The town purchased the lake and dam in the 60’s and took ~30 years to pay off the note. 2007 was the start of a major renovation of the hydro plant.

  2. Hollis Calvert

    Baby did not ask for money. Her dad was a doctor. She asked him to help the girl because the abortion did not go well. The doctor thought Johnny was the father until near end of movie.

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