March 12, 2013
Pete and Mary Ruthenberg
Mary Ruthenberg’s mother and father, Maynard and Martha Rogers, began visiting Buckhorn in the 1940’s. Maynard, who was a petroleum geologist who graduated from OSU in 1937, first visited the Smokies as a college student even before Buckhorn was established. Through a cousin of Doug Bebb (the Inn’s Founder) he discovered Buckhorn in the 1940’s and began yearly visits to the Inn, introducing his children to the pleasures of being outdoors and hiking the mountains. Annual seven-day visits to Buckhorn Inn were a staple of Mary’s family life. She remembers games of skittles by the fire and long, lazy days when she could read all afternoon. Sometimes she hopped on Doug’s Jalopy when he gave rides to her and her brother and sister. Hiking the mountains on these visits was a family affair, taking along hearty lunches packed by Doug himself. Doug would also help out the family by spotting a car at the end of one way hikes. Mary also remembers the company of Doug’s children, especially John, who could race up to the top of Mt. Le Conte and back in record time.
“My parents became good friends with Doug over the years. They were among those special few who were invited to Doug and June’s home for the famous cocktail hours,” Mary remembers. “My parents and my siblings really thought that Buckhorn was ours,” she said, “ours and Doug’s.”
When Mary and her future husband Pete were conducting their six year courtship in the 1960’s, Pete was included in the family trips to Buckhorn, although he ruefully points out that he and Mary were not allowed to be in a car by themselves. He remembers Doug as “a complex person, a big strong man who was light on his feet. He wasn’t a back-slapper but when he warmed-up to people, his good-nature was apparent.” When Mary and Pete married and settled in Indiana, they continued the tradition of annual visits to Buckhorn, bringing their three children, Meg, Matt and Peter, and continuing to enjoy the family tradition of hiking the mountains, including trips up Le Conte. “Matt was the first person to catch a fish in Buckhorn Pond after Doug dammed it up,” Mary recounted proudly.
Mary and Pete still visit Buckhorn Inn, a 70-year family custom. They say that the changes to the Inn over the years which have brought it in line with the requirements of today’s travelers haven’t spoiled it for them. However, they still prefer to stay in “Doug’s rooms,” the traditional rooms on the second floor.
March 7, 2013
It was 3am and there was a loud rap at the door. My husband and I snapped out of sleep in a haze of confusion. We groggily looked at the time and then at each other wondering what was going on. Then we heard it again… RAP RAP RAP. We jumped out of bed and went to the door, slowly opened it and peered outside. There was our daughter standing at the door with a big smile on her face. She had driven down for 8 hours from Virginia to surprise us. The days that followed were amazing. We hiked, enjoyed some amazing wine, talked for hours laughing and crying about our lives, and dined on some amazing food. We were able to share with her the place we had been coming to for years to escape the craziness and stress of the “real world”. The views from our cabin alone were the most restorative aspect of the entire trip. The three of us would sit out on the balcony and look over the valleys and trees and listen to the restorative quiet. Sipping on wine we would talk about past memories and what was going on in our lives. The peacefulness of Buckhorn brought us closer together as we were able to share such a special place with our daughter. Submitted by Virginia O. from Florida
We congratulate Buckhorn Inn on its 75th anniversary. We have a special memory of how well we were treated and made to feel special when we booked six rooms four our Army ” Vicenza Gang” reunion in 2011. As usual the service was outstanding and the meals exceptional. We have been having these reunions for over 30 years all over the country, and our “gang” all said this was by far the best one ever. We appreciated that we were all seated at two tables together in the library where we shared lots of stories and laughter. There is NO place like the Buckhorn Inn and we hope we can get back again soon.
Sondra and Larry, Toledo, Ohio
February 25, 2013
Ardent gardener Shan Smith and his wife Susan gave Buckhorn the perfect 75th birthday present—a Cloud 9 Dogwood. It’s perfect for many reasons but especially because our Founder Douglas Bebb discovered a new species of dogwood on the property forty years ago. He patented and named it Fragrant Cloud because, unusually for a dogwood, it was scented. Doug always said that for him, at least, money did grow on trees. John and I thank the Smiths and their family for the beautiful tree and their loyalty to Buckhorn.
February 16, 2013
In early June, 1955, Peggy and I were married and honeymooned in Gatlinburg. Unfortunately, we did not know Buckhorn Inn existed. Fifty years later, in June of 2005, we were privileged to celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary at the Inn. It was idyllic, and, yes, romantic, even enchanting—a pleasant day followed by a beautiful star-lit evening as only the mountains can provide. The weather was cool and the soft crackling of a log fire added to the enchantment; the Mozart was serenely beautiful; the aromas of Country Granary bread blended with the herbs of the Beef Tenderloin whetted our appetites for the outstanding dinner.
With the permission of the Innkeeper we shared Champagne so all the dinner guests joined in a toast which made it, for us, a memorable evening indeed. Since that occasion we have celebrated seven more anniversaries, all at the Inn. We, like the Inn, plan to have a unique event for our 75th birthday this year which, while special to us, will have to be special indeed to surpass the enchantment and fond memories of that 50th.
Above: Innkeeper John Mellor with Gail and her sisters
The best thing about Mother’s Day is that on the next day, Monday, my three sisters and I pack up and head for Gatlinburg. For three nights our home away from home is the beautiful Buckhorn Inn. We spend our days eating, hiking, talking—and eating! Actually, we hike to eat. In the evening you will find us playing Scrabble or Skip-Bo downstairs in the Inn’s family room. If there are any brownies left from the afternoon, we might have to try one. (Did I mention we like to eat?) The innkeepers and staff treat us like family and the time we are there seems to fly by. We are always looking forward to next year and another stay. We are lucky to live close to each other and see each other often at home, but the time we spend together at Buckhorn in special. It is the place where, the year our Mom died, we sat at the porch and shared memories. Laughing and crying, we went through a few of her things and each chose a keepsake. And so, “God willing and the creek don’t rise,” the next Monday after Mother’s Day we will be back at our inn.
Happy Birthday to Buckhorn!
February 12, 2013
Just wanted to tell you again what a fantastic time we had celebrating our first wedding anniversary there last weekend. As you know we were there for our honeymoon and will be back every anniversary, or even more often. What a great place! Thank you and the staff for making it an unforgettable time!!! Ken and Ann
February 11, 2013
Teller assumes a defensive stance to protect his mate Pentu during the mating season which begins around Valentine’s Day each year. The pair has yet to produce progeny, but this may be the year. Eggs are usually laid in late April or early May. The gestation period is about 30 days.
February 9, 2013
We are pleased to announce the winner of January’s Buckhorn Memories Contest—Elise and Lawrence from Knoxville, Tennessee who will receive a gift certificate for dinner for two the next time they are guests at the Inn. We thank them for their beautifully written and charming memory of a private night at Buckhorn Inn. We thank everyone who has submitted an entry—we treasure them (the entries and the folks who wrote them). To read all the entries that have been submitted, go to Buckhorn Memories category. And the contest does continue. Guests are invited to write about a memorable experience associated with a visit to Buckhorn Inn for a collection we plan to publish at the end of the year. You can write about your experience on this blog by commenting below or you can complete a Memory Card when you are a guest this year or you can write us a letter or send us an email. Each month we will select our favorite memory from those submitted and award a prize—dinner for two. At the end of the year, we will select a grand prize winner, awarding a complimentary two-night stay at Buckhorn.
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Submitted on 2013/01/22 at 5:02pm
My wife, Elise, and I have been guests at the Buckhorn many times over the years. I have also stayed there several times with fellow hikers prior to a LeConte hike. In February 1999 or 2000 my wife and I were driving from Winchester, TN to Hilton Head Island. We decided to stop over at the Buckhorn and were lucky enough to get reservations on short notice. We arrived at the Buckhorn late on a Thursday afternoon, had a wonderful dinner and retired early. Our room (this was before the “new addition”) was a very comfortable corner one upstairs. The next morning after a sumptuous breakfast we set out to explore Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. The middle of the afternoon it began to snow. We decided to return to the Buckhorn while the roads were passable and arrived with several inches of snow on the ground. While warming up by the fire we discovered we were the only guests for the night. All the others had canceled because of the weather. The chef (Bob Neisler), who had quarters downstairs below the kitchen, said he would prepare anything we wanted for dinner. We settled on seafood pasta and were served by the roaring fire. After dinner members of the staff came in and sat by the fire with us and just visited. What a nice, cozy place to be snowbound. The next morning after our private breakfast, Chef Bob called the highway patrol and helped us find a way out of the mountains. There were 15 inches of snow. We managed to get to the interstate but had to drive south to Atlanta to finally get to Hilton Head. Our “Private Night” and adventure at the Buckhorn Inn in a snow storm is one of our most memorable experiences. Lawrence and Louise
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