As the Mountain Breeze celebrates our 30th anniversary year serving the greater Lake Lure area, we are recognizing local history makers for each of our Breeze editions this year. Here is a brief story of local history maker Todd Morse:

Though he originally grew up in St. Louis, Todd has deep roots in this community. His great, great uncle Dr. Lucius B. Morse came to the area to recover from tuberculosis. After his initial inspiring visit by horseback, he acquired Chimney Rock and the adjacent 64 acres in 1902. His great grandfather Hiram and their other brother Asahel joined Dr. Morse as owners in 1903. The three brothers worked to create a wonderful scenic tourist attraction in the following years. Dr. Morse was instrumental in improving the roads in the region and into Hickory Nut Gorge and was the original visionary and driving force behind the creation of Lake Lure. The Park road to the top of the mountain was quite an engineering feat, as were the elevator and trail system in the ensuing years.

Todd and Melinda Morse

Todd became the 4th generation to manage the Park in 1986. During his tenure, the Park team worked hard to build an inclusive and thriving organization to help its guests fully enjoy their experience. After considering a number of strategic possibilities, Todd and his Dad, Lucius B. Morse, III, made the difficult and emotional decision to sell the Park to the state in 2007. They firmly believe they were able to achieve an outcome that benefited the land, the community, Park associates and their family.

Todd and his son Tristan at the top of Party Rock

Community involvement has always been important to Todd both personally and professionally. He’s had the privilege of serving on 20-plus area non-profit committees and boards since he’s been here, often in leadership roles, including the Rutherford County and Asheville Chambers, Blue Ridge Health, NC Arboretum, Clean Air Community Trust, and the Blue Ridge Parkway Association in addition to two private school boards in Asheville.

Locally, he was President of the HNG Chamber in 1988 & 1989, served on the HNG Wilderness Conservancy board, helped co-found the Lake Lure Community Education Foundation in 2011, organized the Raptors 5k and participated in the Lake Lure Classical Academy marketing and finance committees. He’s most recently been helping lead the effort to secure USDA financing to complete the new school campus. Melinda, his wife for over 30 years, served for 4 years as a founding board member for LLCA. Following his passion for exceptional guest service, for which the Park was recognized over the years, Todd also presented customer service seminars for the community and helped organize the effort to create a service training program for the Chamber.

Todd shared that the recent community branding initiative demonstrated how residents and business leaders can come together for the common good. His hope is that we can all work together to help protect and preserve what makes the Gorge special while allowing for slow, strategic and mindful growth as a year-round community.

Todd with his father at the Park’s 2002 Centennial

Todd and Melinda were married atop Chimney Rock in 1986 on an extremely windy day! They purchased their lakefront home in Lake Lure in 2008 and have enjoyed calling this place home. During this next stage of his life after the sale, Todd has worked in commercial real estate and is now a broker with Keller Williams in Lake Lure. He’s actively working to publish a book about his family’s four generations of stewardship of Chimney Rock.

The couple have a son, Ethan, in 8th grade at Lake Lure Classical Academy, and another son, Tristan, part of the first graduating class of LLCA, now at UNC-Asheville.

Our group on top of the Chimney – left to right, my stepmother Bonnie, my Dad, Gov & Mrs. Easley, Melinda, Tristan and me, former State Park Director Lewis Ledford and Walter Dalton

He loves to spend time with his family, playing golf, running, biking, traveling, playing guitar, singing, camping, and attending bluegrass festivals.

In closing, Todd stated, “No matter where I may travel, I’m always happy to come back home.”