Contributed by Sarah Downing
Lake Tahoma, located between Mount Mitchell and the town of Marion, was created in 1924 by a group of local investors interested in land development. The lake’s water supply is Buck Creek and Little Buck Creek, and early on, it was described as a “recreational place of remarkable attractiveness.” A stone pavilion, known as the casino, was built over the lake where summer visitors could watch speedboat races or dance to orchestra music provided by local and regional ensembles. A power plant generated electricity which was sold to the National Utilities Company, supplier of power to the town of Marion.
In 1929, R. M. Mead of Cleveland, Ohio, and a group of associates purchased the lake with the intentions of improving the casino, building a hotel, adding a golf course, and transforming the area into a “sportsman’s paradise.” Mead served as president of the Lake Development Corporation, and local men served as officers with the firm. However, the project dried up, so to speak, with the Great Depression. Investors lost money and the hotel was left unfinished along its shores. The power plant was purchased by Duke. The property was sold at foreclosure and became part of the Kinstler estate, since A. M. Kinstler was one of the original investors.
The construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway, in close proximity to Lake Tahoma, sparked new interest in the lake. The Lutheran Church considered buying the property for a summer assembly. In 1945, Gov. R. Gregg Cherry set up a commission of men from McDowell, Burke, and other nearby counties to study the possibility of obtaining the property to establish a state park.
The property was later purchased by a group of investors and businessmen, who formed the Lake Tahoma Corporation. The organization issued stocks and established restrictions for developing lots in the area.
Today, Lake Tahoma and the surrounding property is privately owned and is administered and maintained by a homeowner’s association.