Hickory Nut Gorge extends past the breath taking scenery of Chimney Rock and leads into the man-made Lake Lure. Part of the Blue Ridge Mountain Chain and the Appalachian Mountains, it was created over 680 million years ago. Formed on the super continent of Pangea, it is part of the same chain of the Anti-Atlas Mountains in Morocco.
The Cherokee believe that they have always lived in the mountainous regions of western North Carolina and have many tales of their ancestors hunting the great mastodons that foraged and roamed in the area. Archaeological digs in the area have produced artifacts that date back to the end of the last ice age, over 11,000 years ago. The Cherokees called this area “the land of the blue sky”.
In 1540, Hernando De Soto led a Spanish expedition looking for gold through western North Carolina. Again in 1566 - 1567 Juan Pardo also looking for gold, brought another expedition to Western NC. With their quest for gold, they brought small pox and other European diseases to the tribes of the area.
In the 1700’s the settlers began moving west and quickly started inhabiting the territory. The Harris Inn was built on a major Indian trail that connected the Blue Ridge Mountains with the Piedmont area.
The Harris Inn (later known as the Logan House, the Red Coach Inn and Pine Gables) was an early way station for stagecoach travelers and cattle drovers passing over the road connecting Rutherfordton and Asheville. The inn is located on a relatively flat tract of land in the present-day town of Lake Lure, in the Hickory Nut Gorge, in the western part of Rutherford County. It has served mountain travelers for over 124 years and during that time was host to a number of prominent visitors.
The travel and tourist industry came early to Rutherford County. During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the way stations and inns created a network throughout the region, providing meals and lodging to weary travelers. The early roads in this area were highly regarded by the residents of this isolated and sparsely settled region. With the rivers too rough for navigation and the railroads still decades away, the early roads, and the stagecoaches which traversed them, served as the only effective commercial ties to the outside world
In the later part of the 1800’s Jerome B. Freeman purchased Chimney Rock and the surrounding land. He created trails up the mountain for the spectacular views. In 1885, when Dr. Lucius Morse of Missouri was diagnosed with tuberculosis, he came to Hickory Nut Gorge and Chimney Rock hoping to find a cure in the clean mountain air.
Dr. Morse was so intrigued by the beauty of the surrounding area,. that he contacted his brothers and together they bought the land in 1902 for $5000.00. They created walking trails, built an access bridge across the Rocky Broad River and a three-mile road climbing up to Chimney Rock.
In 1926, Dr. Morse had another vision, to create a lake and a year round resort by damming the Rocky Broad River. In 1927, Lake Lure was created and incorporated. The naming of the lake is credited to Dr. Morse’s wife, Elizabeth Parkenson.
September 23, 2006 the Four North Carolinians toured the area for this article. It began at 5 in the morning and we were rewarded with clear skies and warm weather. After taking a few detours along the way, we arrived in Lake Lure at 9 A.M. This was our first view of Lake Lure driving in on highway 64.
We followed 64 into the town of Lake Lure and were awed by picturesque views all along the way. The country roads are dotted with roadside stands and we had the privilege of meeting Mrs. Nell Whiteside who owns the Pumpkin Center.
Although this is not one of her best years, she will sell every pumpkin before Halloween.
The Lodge on Lake Lure, a resort first built for Highway Patrolmen and their families, dominates the town. Across the highway from the lodge is a white sand beach and a spectacular view of the lake with mountains rising all around it.
We were intrigued by a grove with trees planted neatly in a row and stopped to take some pictures. While we were down by the river, we noticed a bald eagle perched high above the treetops.
Hubby and Big Jim soon discovered what the eagle was watching;. swimming close to the rocks at the shore were three large trout.
We continued our tour into the town of Chimney Rock. We took a short stop at the riverside park and got a few pictures from the base of the mountain of the flag on top of the Chimney. Then we headed to our destination, Chimney Rock Park.
It was around 10 when we got to the tollbooth entrance and we were surprised that there was very little traffic. After a quick stop at the bathrooms, which are beautifully painted inside with murals depicting the surrounding scenery, we headed to the upper parking lot and our 3-hour tour.
Let me warn you now, you had better be in good shape to climb the upper trail to the falls. Although there are many wooden steps built along the way, it is mostly UP. The views from the trails and points are well worth the climb. The ultimate reward is the view of Hickory Nut Falls.
After we hiked the mountain, we went back down to the town for lunch and a little shopping. The town’s main street is lined with gift shops, restaurants and Inns. We noticed that one restaurant advertised wireless internet available.
Although the peak season for fall leaf color is mid October the views offered in the area will be wonderful no matter when you take your 'tour'.
Events & Festivals next weekend:
"Fire in the Valley"
10/7/2006 - 10/28/2006
In Maggie Valley - Bluegrass Competition at Eaglenest each Saturday of October leading up to a finale on October 28th.
Business Phone: (828)926-9658
27th Annual Sonker Festival
10/7/2006 - 10/7/2006
In Lowgap - This is a daylong festival honoring the Appalachian deep-dish pie called the "sonker," with old-time stringband music and dance. Free. Old Time and Bluegrass Music Quilting and Weaving Demonstrations. Confederate Exhibit. Sonker, Lemonade and Coffee Business Phone: (336)789-7034
35th Annual Hilltop Fall Festival & Overmountain Victory Trail 5K
10/7/2006 - 10/7/2006
In Rutherfordton - The annual Hilltop Fall Festival is a great family, fall tradition with activities for everyone. 5K race & Fun Run, Tour de Pumpkin, Bike Ride, Battle of the Bands & other live entertainment, arts, crafts, great food & children's activities in historic downtown Business Phone: (828)287-2071
A Walk Through Dixieland
10/7/2006 - 10/7/2006
Hear the words of Thomas Wolfe's 1929 novel Look Homeward, Angel as you stroll through the novelist's boyhood home and inspiration for "Dixieland." Business Phone: (828)253-8304
Annual Country Auction
10/7/2006 - 10/7/2006
There will be crafts, quilts, homemade candies & goodies, farm products and more. Tractors over 25 years old will be on display. Event time 8am - 3pm. Business Phone: (919)553-5629
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