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Book 1

LOOK Deeper Much of the legacy, lore and natural history of this portion of Appalachia inspired Legasus, River Rock’s creators, with the timeless visions of progressive luxury living that will etch River Rock into American hearts as one of the greatest places to live.

Book 1

Our Place in Appalachia


W e lcom e to B o ok On e of t h e R i v e r R o c k s tory


Our story begins among the signature peaks and valleys of the Southern Highlands of Appalachia, on the eastern side of its mighty spine, the legendary Blue Ridge. Here in North Carolina, in an area known as the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau, near to the city of Asheville and Mt. Mitchell – the highest peak in all of Appalachia at 6,684 feet – River Rock situates itself among the most desirable destinations in America’s mountain country.

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Rather than a chain, the Appalachians constitute a system of five distinct geological provinces: the Piedmont, the Blue Ridge, the Appalachian Plateaus, the Ridge and Valley, and the Northern Appalachians, stretching from central Alabama 1,500 miles north-eastward to Newfoundland, Canada. The first four Appalachian provinces run in vertical strips roughly 300 miles wide along the Eastern United States. The fifth occupies the northern tip covering most of New England. Steeped in

mystery and long in history, this oft-misunderstood section of the world is also one of the richest, if viewed through the right lens.


One might well wonder why any creature as vulnerable as man would venture to live among such a vast and unforgiving wilderness, until one comes and sees for himself or herself, is seized by the beauty, and awakened by the layered expanses of lush possibility. Those of humble means who chose to settle here drew upon instinct and each other, while those of great fortune staked their claim with landmark locations that over the centuries have incited millions to come and be moved. All have left clues as to the land’s most remarkable secrets, and how best to mine the endless, enriching experiences offered among these timeless mountains.

The earliest recorded sighting of the word “Appalachee” appears on sixteenth century Spanish maps.



When you are here, you can tell you’re somewhere different; by sight, by smell, by feel… your senses feel enlightened. That’s what is so


Curative Places

special about the Plateau. At Legasus, we only seek properties that engage all the senses.

TO N Y C O R L I S S , R I V E R R O C K F O U N D E R

Favored locations included New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts, and New York’s



palliative environments were the continent’s first resorts, places believed to possess restorative healing powers.

Adirondack and Catskill Mountains. Of the most popular mineral springs resorts of the Gilded Age were Hot Springs in Virginia, Saratoga Springs and Ballston Spa in New York, and Lake Toxaway Inn in North Carolina. The Grove Park Inn & Spa also in North Carolina, about an hour from River Rock, became another landmark retreat for the wealthy at the turn of the twentieth century. For all these destinations in each of their respective eras, the calming landscapes and healing air were the main attractions for guests seeking a restorative, romantic, and picturesque experience with nature.

te U st Fore na Sta isgah aroli the P North C in t r, il e erb ent Vandsearch C na. li dith nd E ns Re Caro rge a ollectioh, North o e G cial C leig Spe aries, Ra Libr

The last quarter of the nineteenth century saw one of the biggest explosions in America’s economy. This was the era known as the Gilded Age, a time of infinite possibility for entrepreneurs. For leisure, America’s elite instinctively headed for the hills, to the clean mountain air, fresh water, and mineral springs. These naturally


They came by luxury rail cars and covered carriages, the grand lords and ladies of a prosperous era. They came for the air, the water, the mountains, and views that to this day, continue to lure America’s wealthiest leisure-seekers.

If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it. PRESIDENT LYNDON B. JOHNSON, upon signing the Wilderness Act in 1964

“The people you meet cannot be ignored, you will meet them again and again. And the time will come when you will need each other.” H ENR Y G L AS S I E , F O L K L O R I S T

Neighboring Appalachia is known as a place where kinship relations and traditions of neighboring are among the strongest. ‘Neighboring’ is formally described as a network of economic and social exchange among households, grounded in a shared sense of place. Most common among rural communities, the spirit of neighboring resurrects a sense of solidarity, support, and security widely unknown among the communities of today’s middle and upper classes. Appalachians point to the prevalence of family reunions, the maintenance of family grave plots, return migration, family care of children and senior citizens, and numerous ways of familybased sharing as positive aspects of their lives. In a wilderness this rugged, human connections historically represented more than simply friendly neighbors —they were ultimately vital to survival, and still are. Technology 8

and modernity have never proved a match for the fierceness of Mother Nature, but human spirit has.

In short, residents and scholars of Appalachia have come to see the entrenched social, political, and personal influence of family as a dominant thread in the region’s cultural fabric, as well as a feature that distinguishes Appalachia from much of the United States. THE ENCYCLOPEDIA O F A P PA L A C H I A

River Rock is built on spirit. It’s a place where the landscape connects rather than divides households, where children play under the watchful care of the entire community, and despite its newness, where a strong and deep, or “thick” style of neighboring is practiced.

Legasus’ vision for River Rock is of a self-sufficient community

The Highlands-Cashiers Plateau (or simply the Plateau to those in the know), is hands-down the twenty sweetest square miles in the Blue Ridge.

where modern technology perpetuates a sustainable legacy, and where carefully designed parks, gardens, and landscaping resurrect the kinship ties these mountains are known for.

The Plateau Awash in cool streams and coursing falls, dense with forest, and thick with possibility, this small pocket of perfection is naturally, albeit miraculously, sheltered from harsher weather patterns to which areas only a few miles in any direction are prone.

The ecology is recognized as the most diverse on the continent, with hints of the tropics flirting with rainforests within a few miles of subalpine shrubs and evergreens. Sudden elevation and generous rainfall not only keep the landscape lush and perfumed but feed the rivers, creeks, and streams, and provide one of the area’s most spectacular attractions — the many and varied waterfalls. Even once you know where every hidden view lurks, no two seasons,


days, or hours are alike in the mountains, leaving the mystery of the unexpected intact at every instance. It was the unusually attractive nature of The Plateau that captivated the founders of River Rock, Tony Corliss and Ted Morlok, compelling them to acquire the land that would eventually become River Rock. Tuckasegee, totaling 677 acres was the first of River Rock’s five parcels. Trout Creek, Webster Creek, and Bear Pen soon followed, bringing the total acreage of wild land to 3,420. It wasn’t until the Summer Sail parcel was secured (an additional 68 manicured acres) that Tony and Ted felt they had the land they needed to bring their vision to life.


Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth. WA LT W H I T M A N

Fishing Traditions “Brookies,” or brook trout, were once a traditional

So when my boys get old enough, and learn how to bait a hook and how to wade

symbol in Appalachia and the most common catch in Plateau rivers. Nowadays, smallmouth and spotted bass, walleye, sauger, and introduced species such as rainbow and brown trout are the favored game. The muskellunge, or “muskie,” is a more glamorous

I think I’ll take ‘em fishin’ and show ‘em where God stays

catch that can reach up to fi fty pounds, attracting big game fishermen and creating a demand for local, specially crafted anglers to trick this solitary member of the pike family. Methods for catching fish vary almost as much as the fish themselves. One Native American tradition involved sprinkling the poison from local plants over a pool. Once the trout were

‘Cause they’ll never feel more at peace, they’ll never feel more whole

stricken, they would float readily into waiting baskets. Native techniques also included spearing, hook and lining, impaling with bow and arrow, gigging, and using carefully crafted traps. Spawning catfish were often caught by hand, which could explain the origin of “noodling,” also called hand grabbing, grabbling, hand fishing, or hogging, which

Than when the whitewater rushes round their legs and the mountains fill their souls.

remains a popular fishing method in some of the larger rivers and reservoirs of southern Appalachia.




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A Gilded Retreat

In the words of his great grandson William A. V. Cecil Jr., Vanderbilt’s vision for Biltmore “was one of a selfsufficient estate, where a home equipped with cutting-edge technology of the day would stand at the center of a carefully designed working farm and a beautiful park and woods,” “a private estate

that sustains itself, benefits the community, and leads the way in historic preservation through private enterprise.” Vanderbilt’s uncompromising ideals resulted in the largest private home in America: a 175,000 sq ft. feat of romantic architecture inspired by three sixteenth

Biltmore House opened its doors to guests on Christmas Eve 1895, with a gaily-trimmed tree, coaching party, and holiday feast, an occasion that exquisitely captures the family’s emphasis on hospitality. Lucky guests were invited to engage in a multitude of outdoor activities, including archery, tennis, croquet, drives through the countryside in a horse-drawn carriage, riding, hunting, hiking, and picnicking on the beautiful grounds. Indoor distractions ranged from concerts and dancing to parlor games, and at their disposal was an indoor swimming pool with adjoining gym, miniature bowling alley, and a ten-thousand-volume library. Free time indoors was often devoted to the study of art, languages, literature, and music.

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century French Renaissance chateaux. In addition to central heating, electricity, and a plumbing system that piped fresh water from a mountain reservoir several miles away, Biltmore was equipped with fire alarms, mechanical refrigerators, telephones, intercoms, and elevators— all luxuries exceedingly rare at the time.

Mr. Spe Georg Libr cial Co e W. Van arie llect s, Ra ion derbilt leig s Res h, N orthearch C Caro ente lina r, No rth C . aroli

Of the most important Gilded Age vacationers to choose the mountains of North Carolina as his treasured retreat was the heir to one of America’s wealthiest families, George Vanderbilt. A world-traveling intellectual, bibliophile, and philanthropist, like thousands before him and thousands to come, Vanderbilt fell instantly under Appalachia’s spell during one chance visit to Asheville in 1888.

Vanderbilt chose the two most distinguished designers of the nineteenth century to build his dream: architect Richard Morris Hunt (responsible for the façade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty) and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (the founding father of American landscape architecture, responsible for the design of New York’s Central Park).

Inspired by the various good ways in which the Vanderbilts made use of their leisure time in a world without television, stereos, and home media centers, River Rock puts special emphasis on spaces and places for nurturing culture in the mountains. There will be art and literature, music, dance, and ever-growing opportunities to study and learn together.


Geo Spe rge an Libr cialColle d Edith c arie s, Ra tionsRe Vanderb leigh searc il , No hCen t in the rth C ter,N P aroli orthCisgah Fo aroli na. naStarest teUn ivers ity

then now As employers of an enormous staff including domestic workers, groundskeepers, and stable hands, George and Edith Vanderbilt had a reputation for being both kind and generous.

The region of Appalachia known to the Vanderbilts is the very same one treasured by Tony Corliss and Ted Morlok of Legasus.


A Generous Hand {

The Vanderbilts’ commitment to helping others is best exemplified by their concrete efforts to bolster the economy and infrastructure of local communities. The neighboring town of Best was renamed Biltmore Village after the family funded and oversaw the construction of a school, hospital, church, shops, and cottages outfitted with plumbing and central heating. The Vanderbilts also shared innovative farming techniques and championed the founding of the Biltmore Forest School in 1898— the first institute for scientific forestry in America , headed by Gifford Pinchot, recognized as the founding father of forestry in America. Mrs. Vanderbilt’s involvement with the Boys & Girls’ Club of All Souls Church evolved into Biltmore Estate Industries, an apprenticeship program that taught traditional crafts



such as woodworking and weaving. Two years later, Mrs. Vanderbilt set up the School for Domestic Science, which trained young women in cooking, cleaning, and other housekeeping skills. Both programs provided their students with real skills and greater employment opportunities. Following George Vanderbilt’s death in 1914, Edith Vanderbilt sold

close to 87,000 acres to the federal government as a means of preserving the estate and honoring her husband’s wish to keep Pisgah National Forest open to the public, creating a legacy of forestry that brought enlightenment to this country and led to the preservation of many more of its richest natural areas.

A Generous Future





A century later, the landscape is as green and forested as ever, and though social need is considerably less dire than it was a century ago, revitalization of surrounding River Rock communities is still greatly welcome. River Rock intends to emulate Vanderbilt’s propensity for philanthropy, culture, community, and stewardship through a host of inclusive and far-reaching social and environmental initiatives. From the outset, Legasus

echoes George Vanderbilt’s uncompromising ideals in the selection of River Rock’s location and strategic associates. Where Vanderbilt allowed himself to be inspired by the avant-garde landscape designers and forestry experts of his time, such as Frank Olmsted and Gifford Pinchot, so too has Legasus, in the services of Design Workshop —the nation’s most recognized and respected, environmentally-sensitive land planners.

Through careful design and foresight, the area known as River Rock will continue to retain the endearing characteristics that seduced its founders far into the future. Through inclusive soft programming, enlightened hospitality, and excellent amenities, River Rock residents will feel every bit as fortunate as early guests to Biltmore. Through it’s philanthropic initiatives, surrounding communities will come to see River Rock as more than just a good neighbor, but also as a mentor and friend. Biltmore and River Rock share a land ethic rooted in sustainability and self-sufficiency, a commitment to contributing to the betterment of surrounding communities, and uncompromising ideals as to the caliber and refinement of homes, common areas, hospitality services, and amenities, all of which stem from an enduring and profound love for this land, encountered at first sight. 21

This land is as much a part of me as my arms and legs are. R E S I D E N T O F A P PA L A C H I A

{ River Rock Values } The nature of River Rock as a community grew from the intangible beliefs and moral guidelines that have always drawn people here. Together, these form the values, or cornerstones of this community—the pillars that any civilization requires to be able to respond to the needs of its residents.







THE LONG VIEW, towards our future

is expressed in every aspect of the

and the land’s, is necessarily a priority.

community. Only the best land planners,

Our future as a community is carefully

between the past and the present;

the finest architects, and most careful

considered in the social design of River Rock,

among residents, families, and generations;

designers were invited, and only the

as it seeks to resurrect the intimacy of

and naturally, between the people and

highest level of hospitality service will

mountain communities past. Programming

the earth, fostering a reciprocal relationship

accompany River Rock amenities and

aims to build a common history through

to the enduring benefit of both. All these

community operations—all with a view to

the celebration of Appalachian culture,

connections are to be celebrated, nurtured

providing the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau

in the practice of traditions, new and old,

and encouraged in every possible way;

with a benchmark for a quality of life worthy

in ceremonies that mark the milestones

in the sharing of services, amenities,

of the landscape. This standard will apply

and achievements of the community as it

and activities; in community organizations,

to every experience that awaits within

evolves. Trusts are established to preserve

functions, and celebrations; and in

the community—from sporting, dining,

the rivers and streams that run throughout

the design of the land, homes,

and recreational facilities, to intellectual,

the property, and sound forestation practices

and shared structures.

spiritual, and leisure pursuits.

that echo the legacy left by the Vanderbilts

between River Rock neighborhoods, surrounding communities and the land;

and uphold the integrity of the mountainside. Choosing to be accountable to the whole of which we are a part.

“Properties of Generations� represents our promise to develop properties with the highest level of integrity and consideration. Romantic lands deserve unsurpassed professional inspiration and sustainable strategies at every phase of the development process. TO N Y C O R L I S S , R I V E R RO C K F O U N D E R , o n L e g a s u s , P r o p e r t i e s o f G e n e r a t i o n s

{ What Makes Us Different } If values are the ‘pillars,’ then differentiators are the ‘posts’ of the River Rock community —five concrete, experiential realities that allow this community to qualify as unique in the world.






Weather is a Reason

Advancing Appalachia

Endlessly Experiential

Highlands Hospitality

To Love, Honor, and Protect

With five distinct neighborhood parcels, each proclaiming its own ideals of engagement, residents of River Rock will never lack for things to do. Every amenity is an expression of the community’s cornerstone of higher standards. The celebrity golf course is slated to be unique in the East. The

Through its ser vices and amenities, River Rock brings a level of hospitality on a par with international standards, and as yet unmatched in the Southern Highlands. The River Rock Hospitality School was created to supply skilled personnel to meet these standards. The Hospitality School also presents an enriching connection between River Rock and the local workforce,

The River Rock land ethic, rooted in environmental sustainability, informs both pillars and posts, and inhabits the community as residents do. Sprung from a deep and unconditional love for this particular place, every last community detail illustrates a level of commitment, care, and sincerity that will foster a profound sense of pride among

The unusually mild weather patterns, unique to the Plateau, render every season equally endearing in its own right. Summers are warm enough for water play during the day yet cool enough at night for blankets and fires. Winters are never frigid, with just enough snow to dust the walking trails with romance a few weeks of the year. Lengthy springs burst onto the scene with tropical-like rains that bring new flora and life, replenishing the area’s rivers, lakes, and legendary waterfalls, while the equally lengthy fall season, an attraction unto itself, draws ‘leafpeepers’ from around the world.

River Rock has mined some of the most poignant Appalachian stories and legacies, delving into the lore and culture of this fascinating section of the world, extrapolating, modernizing, and cultivating our finds to resonate with contemporary, worldly mindsets. Appalachian kinship traditions such as neighboring are rekindled through the thoughtful arrangement of amenities, homes, and common spaces, as well as soft programming. Subtle Appalachian architectural vernacular is drawn from to design modern mountain homes in harmony with the land. Through these concrete efforts to advance the perceptions and legacies of Appalachia, River Rock provides an option for people seeking a more thoughtful, meaningful, and engaging lifestyle.


tennis and equestrian centers cater to the most discerning

boosting local economic growth

all who adopt this place as their own. From building

athletes and riders. A sophisticated trail system

by providing an opportunity

guidelines to programming and community-level interaction, River

links the hiking network to backyards. Year-round programming introduces

to learn skills that will open doors to more rewarding

Rock’s differentiating ethics honor the qualities that make this place so special, provide information

residents to everything from

job opportunities

as to the ways in which we can

kayaking to cooking to highaltitude art classes. Even the spa, with its treatment rooms within

both here and abroad.

protect its greatness, and inspire our children to carry these ethics far into the future.

earshot of running streams, expands to include spaces for meditative activities, introspection, and homeopathic remedies.


For Legasus, enacting their land ethic begins with the creation of the Appalachian Institute for Mountain Sustainability, or AIMS, of which River Rock is a founding member. Constant innovation and action toward the long-term social and environmental wellbeing of River Rock and all things touched by it are AIMS’ primary concern. Inspired by the qualities and experiences that render River Rock different and distinct, immediate initiatives are designed to protect and sustain these attributes.


The Appalachian Institute for Mountain Sustainability initiatives include but are not limited to the following: 1 } Ensuring weather remains a reason to experience The Plateau by exploring technologies and practices that reduce the harmful carbon emissions that affect global weather patterns, through efforts such as introducing electric, hybrid, or bio-fuel vehicles for transportation within River Rock properties; exploiting on-site, renewable energy sources such as micro-hydro power, solar power, and/or geo-thermal power; creating a carbon-neutral community through the institution of certiďŹ ed green building and neighborhood development policies, ensuring that private homes and common amenities remain as emission-free and energy conservative as possible.

2 } Furthering the advancement of Appalachian culture through cultural initiatives such as supporting local libraries with donations of books on Appalachian literature and history; promoting and funding local and state-wide art movements; promoting artistic expression within River Rock through artist-in-residency programs and permanent, community art installations.

3 } Sustaining the endless experiences available at River Rock through soft programming initiatives that foster bonds between neighbors near and far, such as the Glenville Trout Festival, which aims to provide a venue for River Rock and surrounding communities to come together in celebration and preservation of a treasured Appalachian tradition.

4 } Elevating hospitality in the Highlands through the creation of the River Rock Hospitality School, beneďŹ ting the surrounding local economy by providing skills and employment to workers, while ensuring a level of service for River Rock on a par with international hospitality standards.

5 } Loving, honoring, and protecting the land on which we live through sensitive development practices and community stewardship initiatives, such as tree planting to offset the removal of trees during construction, and the founding of the Tuckasegee River Trust, a watershed organization dedicated to preserving the quality of the river and fostering an atmosphere of stewardship throughout the community through programs that educate and empower.


{ Strategic Associates } A formidable force of human heart, intellect, and creativity was galvanized for River Rock to come to be. Names that will all reappear across time when people ask whose hand such marvelous places are by. The masterminds behind River Rock consider themselves students of the land rather than its overlords, for if we have learned anything from nature, it is that we shall always have more to know.



Design Workshop

Phil Mickelson Design

In over 30 years of successful land development, Legasus partners Ted Morlok and Tony Corliss have evolved a strict policy of acquiring romantic parcels of land that stir the spirit and inspire the creation of fulďŹ lling, multi-generational communities.

Recognized nation-wide as one of the most environmentally-conscious land planners, Design Workshop is an award-winning, international ďŹ rm practicing landscape architecture, land planning, urban design, and tourism planning.

With experience designing environmentally sensitive golf courses for Audubon International, Phil Mickelson Design brings profound knowledge and understanding of the game to the River Rock experience.

MossCreek Architects

CCY Architects, Inc.

MossCreek is a small, Smokey Mountain-based team of ďŹ ve professional architects well versed in European and American mountain vernaculars, dedicated solely to the design of custom log and timber frame homes rooted in history and tradition.

In the practice of architecture and in the practice of living, CCY creates authentic, inspiring places through their commitment to creativity, connection to nature, and passion for people and community.


Conservation is the foresighted utilization, preservation and/or renewal of forests, waters, lands and minerals, for the greatest good of the greatest number for the longest time. G I F F O R D P I N C H OT, F I R S T C H I E F O F T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S F O R E S T S E R V I C E

Profile for Ideation Staytion

River Rock, Book 1  

From the storyline "Raising Appalachia" written about a five-parcel master-planned community in the heart of Appalachia.

River Rock, Book 1  

From the storyline "Raising Appalachia" written about a five-parcel master-planned community in the heart of Appalachia.