Hickory Nut Gorge was viewed as a vacation destination as early as 1880. That year, Chimney Rock, a 315 foot granite monolith that overlooks the gorge, was made accessible by a series of stairways. In 1904, Chimney Rock was purchased by Dr. Lucius Morse with the aid of twin brothers Hiram and Asahel. Dr. Morse envisioned a mountain resort community within the gorge all surrounding a mountain lake. In 1925, work began on damming the Rocky Broad River and the lake had begun to fill by 1927 when the both town of Lake Lure was established and the Lake Lure Inn opened. The area has grown into a notable resort destination and the Morse family recently sold Chimney Rock to the state of North Carolina to create a state park. Of course, with such activity the area has seen in the past century, it’s no surprise that there are spirits.
Lodge on Lake Lure
361 Charlotte Drive
Opened initially as a retreat for highway patrolmen and their families, the Lodge on Lake Lure was created as a memorial to George Penn, a highway patrolman shot and killed in the line of duty. It’s only appropriate that this 1937 lodge, opened to the public in 1990, would be the current residence of Mr. Penn. His gentle spirit has been seen in Room 4 when he tends to stroll into the occupied room, walk about and then disappear into the closed, and sometimes locked, door.
One former innkeeper referred to the spirit as “naughty.” She reported that he would often steal the toilet paper out of Room 2. When puzzled guests would turn up at the front desk inquiring about the missing toilet tissue, the innkeeper invariably knew that Penn has probably taken the paper out of Room 2 again. Other activity reported from the spirit includes moving flower arrangements and at one time throwing a glass goblet against the wall when someone stated that they wished the ghost would do something. If you stay at the Lodge on Lake Lure, just be sure to keep such wishes to yourself.
1927 Lake Lure Inn and Spa
2771 Memorial Highway
Interest in the spirits of the Lake Lure Inn has risen recently with the publication of a photo taken inside the inn by the Events and Catering Manager in November of last year. The photo, showing an ice sculpture prepared for an event, also shows a figure standing behind the sculpture. While the figure is very fuzzy, the face appears to be that of a young boy or man. The photo may be viewed here.
Lake Lure’s initial popularity with the construction of the Lake Lure Inn and the filling of Lake Lure was believed to be on the rise. The hotel was visited by such names of the period as novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, President Calvin Coolidge and future president Franklin Roosevelt. But no one could have predicted the Great Depression that would follow the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and how it would sink the economy and, by extension, resorts like Lake Lure. The Inn limped through the 1930’s until the outbreak of World War II.
In 1943, the Third Army Air Force leased the Lake Lure Inn for use as a convalescence home for wounded and shell-shocked soldiers. One soldier who spent time at Lake Lure later described it as “a benediction of nature on us all after the horrors of war.” An army band under the direction of Albert Hague (who was later an actor on Broadway and in the role of Professor Shorovsky in the TV series Fame) would serenade dances or while the patients stared off at the sun-dappled lake.
The army’s use of the inn ended in 1945 and the inn has remained popular. Though there are some ghosts left over from the inn’s more painful moments. Lon Strickler’s marvelous blog, Phantoms and Monsters, provides the account of a former inn staff member who had a few run-ins with the spirits. The staff member speaks of seeing shadows in the spa area and having their name called by a man with a low-gravelly voice.
The staff member continues and describes the other spirits said to be witnessed by guests including a woman who was supposedly murdered in the 1930s in Room 217. A man, believed to be Dr. Lucius Morse, has been seen in the dining room. Articles on recent paranormal investigations speculate that he may also be the spirit seen and heard in the spa.
Paranormal Scene Investigators, a paranormal investigation group from nearby Forest City, has performed a number of investigations of the inn and always seem to have discovered very interesting evidence. Among some of the more interesting evidence is a woman’s scream recorded on two occasions in Room 217, where the murder may have taken place. Oddly, the screams, recorded on two separate occasions, sound almost identical. Other evidence includes an interesting photo of a ball of energy in one room. While the group cannot conclusively state that the inn is haunted, they will state that there is paranormal activity. Certainly, the spirits here and at the Lodge have picked lovely spots to spend eternity.
- Baughman, Scott. “Things weren’t normal at this LL convention.” The (Forest City, NC) Daily Courier. 11 March 2009.
- Bunch, Pam. “Guests, ghosts share Lake Lure Inn.” The (Forest City, NC) Daily Courier. 28 February 2007.
- Chimney Rock State Park. “History: Lake Lure and Hickory Nut Gorge Tell a Story.” Chimney Rock State Park Website. Accessed 22 April 2011.
- Chimney Rock State Park. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 22 April 2011.
- DePriest, Joe. “A place that healed sore soldier’s souls.” The Charlotte Observer. 23 November 2003.
- Evans, Laura. “Scare up a spooky place to stay.” The News & Observer. 10 January 2007.
- “Ghost hunt a high-tech operation.” The (Forest City, NC) Daily Courier. 28 February 2007.
- Justice, Birchette T. “Chimney Rock and Lake Lure.” in The Heritage of Rutherford County, North Carolina, Vol. 1. Winston-Salem, NC: Hunter Publishing, 1984.
- Strikler, Lon. “Ghostly Gatherings at the Lake Lure Inn.” Phantoms and Monsters. 21 December 2010.
- Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2001.