Chimney Rock updates trip to the top

Posted June 29, 2012 9:09 p.m. EDT
Updated June 29, 2012 11:04 p.m. EDT

— Chimney Rock State Park celebrated new heights Friday with the rededication of the mountain's 26-story elevator after more than 18 months of renovation.

The all-new elevator glides visitors 250 feet up in a shaft more than 60 years old. It takes less than a minute for the trip from tunnel to a view that goes on for miles overlooking Lake Lure and a giant waterfall which was featured in "The Last of the Mohicans."

That's a view that elevator operator Jeff Parkhurst rarely sees. "It has its ups and downs," he says jokingly about his work in the shaft.

Parkhurst says he doesn't mind being inside. He likes talking to people and knowing they had a good time on the mountain. He hopes their return trip with him is the only "let down" of their visit.

Miners started chiseling away at Chimney Rock back in the late 1940s. They tunneled in, then up, chipping away rock above their heads before breaking through at the top. At the time, it was the tallest elevator in the state, and is still the only passenger elevator completely cocooned in a mountain.