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Lake Lure is one of the most unique communities in the state of North Carolina. Centered around a manmade lake that was created following the damming of the Rocky Broad River, the town of Lake Lure was incorporated in 1927 and has been granted the right to protect the lake as its trustee. It has owned the land beneath the lake, and thus the lake itself, since 1965.

Of course, the town was not initially created to serve as the trustee of the lake, but instead fell into this position through happenstance and the overly ambitious vision of Dr. Lucius B. Morse, a Missouri physician who fell in love with nearby Chimney Rock and Hickory Nut Gorge while visiting the area to restore his health. While Morse was enamored with the landscape as it was, he believed he could improve it by filling the gorge with water, thereby creating a picturesque mountain lake. Morse also felt that this would make a world-class resort community.

Unfortunately, Morse did not have the resources to do all this himself, but he enlisted the help of his brothers, who provided him with enough funds to purchase 8,000 acres of land that included not only the entire gorge, but also Chimney Rock and much of the surrounding area. Morse’s company, Chimney Rock Mountains, Inc., then deeded the land that would become home to the dam and the powerhouse, as well as the land that would eventually be inundated by the lake, to Carolina Mountain Power Company.

The power company financed the project through a $550,000 mortgage (the equivalent of over $9 million today) from Stroud & Company, and construction of the dam began in 1925. The dam was finished in 1926 and the full impoundment of the lake was completed a year later. The power plant began selling electricity in 1928. Meanwhile, the remainder of the 8,000 acres Morse had purchased continued to be owned by Morse’s company, Chimney Rock, and was set to become the grounds for his grand resort on the new, 720-acre lake. To finance construction, he took out a mortgage of his property for $1,000,000.

Unfortunately, Morse’s plan ran aground following the stock market crash of 1929. Though he did manage to hold onto his property around Chimney Rock and to open the Lake Lure Inn (now The 1927 Lake Lure Inn & Spa), most of his properties covering the 27 miles of shoreline were foreclosed upon. By the early 1940s, they had been disposed of by the bank.

While the power company was also foreclosure upon, Stroud & Company continued to operate the plant. They also entered into an agreement with the town of Lake Lure that allowed the town to operate the lake’s existing recreational facilities. Decades later, in 1963, the North Carolina General Assembly authorized the town to issue revenue bonds to acquire the lake, which it finally did in 1965. Since that time, the properties that were once deeded to the Carolina Mountain Power Company by Morse have been owned by the town. This includes not only the lake, but also the dam and the electricity produced by the powerplant.

To this day, the town of Lake Lure takes its duties to preserve the integrity and health of the lake very seriously, resulting in one of the most pristine mountain lakes in North Carolina.

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