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Our Beginnings Run Deep

Chimney Rock Village has been the center of a tourist Mecca for over 400 years.  According to documents from the Madrid library, Hernando Desoto led his conquistadors through Hickory Nut Gorge on the way to the Mississippi River.  Hunters and trappers used the Gorge as a passage to and from Asheville and Revolutionary War patriots known as the Overmountain Victory Men passed through on their way to defeat the British at the Battle of Kings Mountain.


The earliest settlers near Chimney Rock were around 1805, about the time area newspapers were reporting mirages or apparitions that had been seen against the cliffs of Chimney Rock Mountain.  In 1830, Colonel Leventhorpe came to the Gorge in search of gold which had supposedly been buried here by a party of Englishmen when they were ambushed by Indians.  Although there was reportedly a map of the location of the gold, the Colonel did not find it, and as late as 1928 people were still hunting for it. 


From about 1875 the Freeman family owned the actual rock column known as Chimney Rock and constructed the first bridge between the cliff and the top of Chimney Rock.  For 25 cents they would take visitors up the mountain by horseback.  Around 1902, Dr. Lucius B. Morse came to the area and with his two brothers bought the Chimney.   The Morse family developed the property into present day Chimney Rock Park, encompassing over 1000 acres. In 2007, it became an official North Carolina State Park

Historic Timeline


Series of earthquakes begins. Centered in Bald Mountain (Rumbling Bald). Religious panic occurs in and around Hickory Nut Gorge.


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

Chimney Rock Post Office opens.


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

1890-  1893

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


Steps Constructed to Chimney Rock.


Col. Thomas Turner opens Esmeralda inn. Turner family operates Inn until 1937.


George P. Horton opens Mountain View Inn across from Chimney Rock.


James M. and Lavena Flack purchase Mountain View Inn.


J.  B. Freeman sells 64 acres including Chimney Rock to Dr. Lucius B. Morse and brothers for $5000.


Rutherfordton - Asheville Highway completed.

Construction on the graded road to Chimney Rock Park begins.


Road and bridge to Chimney Rock Park opens.

Major flood causes extensive damage in the Gorge, kills eight people In Bat Cave, destroys Chimney Rock Bridge.


Esmeralda Inn destroyed by fire.


 Cliff Dweller’s inn opens on Chimney Rock Mountain.


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


 Chimney Rock Mountains, Inc. purchases 8,000 acres east of Chimney Rock Park.


 Construction of Lake Lure Dam begins.


Morse sells Chimney Rock and adjoining land to Chimney Rock Mountains, Inc.


Lake Lure created and filled.

Town of Lake Lure chartered.


Great depression stops or slows development of Lake Lure and Chimney Rock projects. Lucious Morse and his brothers repossess original Chimney Rock Company property.


Fire in the heart of Chimney Rock Village destroys nine buildings.


Logan House purchased by Washburn's; becomes Pine Gables.


Cliff Dweller’s inn demolished. Elevator installed at Chimney Rock Park.


Mountain View Inn destroyed by fire.


Chimney Rock Village incorporates.

20th Century Fox films “The Last of the Mohicans” in Chimney Rock Park.


Major flood causes extensive damage in Hickory Nut Gorge. Thirteen inches of rain falls In three hours on Sept. 4th.


Esmeralda Inn destroyed by fire.


Comprehensive zoning ordinance approved for Chimney Rock Village.


A referendum to allow liquor by the drink defeated 69 to 31 percent. (Defeated 1995 with 56% against, 1999 with 76% against.)


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 million. State of North Carolina had offered $20 million.


The state of North Carolina purchased the 996 acres Chimney Rock Park from the Morse family.


Spearheaded by Mayor Barbara Meliski, an amphitheater to be known as, "The Gathering Place" was completed in downtown Chimney Rock and hosted an inaugural town celebration and pig roast.


The state's master plan for the new state park, now renamed Chimney Rock State Park, was completed and published. Contained within it are short range plans and a long range vision covering all aspects of park development and amenities.

2012 & 2013

In an unprecedented move, Lake Lure and Chimney  Rock Village partner to facilitate and adopt a unified branding guide for both communities.

Compiled by Dr. R.J. Wald, resident of Chimney Rock Village

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