By this point our procession had passed the iconic gazebo. To the right of the path is a small pile of cinder blocks. Many guests assumed that this is the spot where the lift scene in the lake was filmed. Truth be told, that’s just where the blocks are stacked now. Over the years the fans have assumed that those blocks were what Patrick Swayze stood on to do the lift. The blocks presently on the lakebed were nowhere around during the filming. For the sake of the guests, the hotel staff have placed blocks out there for years, only to have them disappear. I’ve seen the blocks stacked in several different locations over the years. The original blocks held down the wooden platform the film crew built for Patrick Swayze to stand on during filming. Like the original blocks, the platform is also long gone.
The actual spot of the famous lake lift scene is to the left of the pathway, about twenty feet away. If you walk around just a bit, you’ll find an old cement pad with an iron ring protruding from it. This is an old remnant of the days when it anchored a wooden platform for swimmers. If you stand on, or very near the pad with the ring and angle your body to face northeast, the promontory you see is the same as the one in the background while they are in the lake.
After thirty years, naturally the tree line has changed. Trees grow and they die. The dead trees above the lake line were eastern hemlocks, some of which were nearly three hundred years old when they died. Sadly, they succumbed to an invasive insect, the hemlock wooly adelgid, which is a species of aphid. The adelgid swept through in the late 1990s and early 2000s, devastating the hemlock population. Happily, the hemlocks are on the rebound, and a stroll along any of the twenty-two miles of trails on the property will reveal countless lush, green, young hemlock trees.
Of course, there are folks down at Lake Lure who continue to claim the lake lift scene was filmed in North Carolina. This is patently false. The movie filmed at Mountain Lake for four weeks before finishing shooting in North Carolina. They filmed here during September and October. The lake, even during the height of summer, is a cold sixty-six degrees on the hottest day, so when they shot here in early fall it was cold, cold, cold. Jennifer Grey is reported to have remarked that she thought her nipples might explode because the water was so cold. There was a diver under the water holding Patrick’s legs, and the actors were allowed in the water for only around five minutes before being taken to shore and put inside heated tents, rented from a local company in Blacksburg. The producers worried that Jennifer Grey’s engorged nipples might change the movie’s ratings, but that didn’t happen. The cold lake water also caused the actors’ lips to turn bluish, which is why they shot no close-ups of them in the water. The site our friends down in North Carolina would have you believe is the spot of the lift scene doesn’t fit, if only because there’s a mountain in the background that’s not in the movie.
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