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A Heart-Shaped Mystery

By Jeff Eason (

Article Published: Sep. 5, 2013 | Modified: Sep. 5, 2013
A Heart-Shaped Mystery

The two-sided Heart Pond, more than a century old, is currently being renovated at Bass Lake. Money from the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is funding this National Park Service project.
Photos by Jeff Eason

No one seems to know why Moses and Bertha Cone installed a two-sided pond shaped like a heart.

One can only surmise that it had something to do with the love they had for each other and for this special part of the Cone Manor in Blowing Rock.

Built around the turn of the century, the Heart Pond, as it is known, was part of the Cones’ 15-year project to develop Bass Lake and its surrounding carriage trails.

In the 1940s, the pond, the lake and the rest of the Cone Estate was deeded over to the National Park Service by Bertha Cone.

During the years, the stone walls of the Heart Pond began to leak water and slowly crumble.
According to J. Trivette of the National Park Service, the Heart Pond has been out of commission for nearly a decade.

Now, thanks to a grant from the Blue Ridge Park way Foundation, work has begun to fix the classic two-sided pond.

“Blowing Rock and the Blue Ridge Parkway have a special relationship that brings joy to hundreds of thousands of visitors a year,” said a spokesman for the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. “The 3,600-acre Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, with its many recreational opportunities, is adjacent to the town providing a beautiful place for people to walk, run, ride horses and relax.

“Bass Lake is a special favorite of residents and visitors to Blowing Rock who have generously displayed their affection since the first funding project was undertaken by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation in 2007 to build a comfort station there. The nicely appointed restrooms can remain open year round, while other park facilities are closed because the foundation funds ongoing maintenance.”

In 2012, the National Park Service requested funds to drain and dredge the Heart Pond, repair the crumbling stone walls, restock the pond with native trout, as was historically done, and bring back the water to traditional levels, providing enhanced habitat for waterfowl.

The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation board agreed to fund the project and again asked the community to help in raising funds for both the restoration of the Heart Pond and for lily pad control in Bass Lake.

“The community has graciously responded by contributing more than $45,000 toward the total cost of $56,050,” said a BRPF spokesman.

Some of those donors became concerned earlier this year when work had not resumed on the Heart Pond project.

Crews began work on the project last week, and Roy Jones, supervisor of maintenance for the Highlands District of the Blue Ridge Parkway, said that work on the Heart Pond would be completed by the end of September.

“The Blue Ridge Parkway has been battling terrific odds this year to maintain their heartfelt standards of excellence with greatly reduced staffing levels and a $500 million backlog of needs,” said Carolyn Ward, CEO of the foundation. “While the project has been delayed this year for reasons beyond our control ... there was never a doubt that this project would be completed. We are indeed happy that work has resumed.”

The names of the donors who have contributed toward the Heart Pond restoration project are displayed on a recognition board near the comfort station at Bass Lake.

As for the other part of the BRPF project, Bass Lake’s lily ponds were thinned last year, and the NPS will continue to monitor their growth.

“We’re confident that the community will continue to support this project and others in the area that make Blowing Rock and the region one of the best places to visit and live in America,” said Willa Mays, chief development officer of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation.

Additional Images

The two-sided Heart Pond, more than a century old, is currently being renovated at Bass Lake. Money from the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is funding this National Park Service project.
Photos by Jeff Eason

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