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January 8, 2018

Buckhorn Inn Pond Enhancements Continue

If you have been following the Buckhorn Inn on social media, you know we have been devoting much time and energy to being good caretakers of the pond on our nature trail.  This past summer we released grass carp into the pond to help us optimize the plant growth.  We also added a foundation.  The fountain not only is beautiful and provides soothing noise for visitors, but it also helps us maintain the good health of the water.  

A more recent project has been the removal of fallen trees around the pond.  Kevin Howard with Rex Howard’s Landscaping came up with a clever way to manage this work.  In Buckhorn Inn’s 80 years there have been few days when it was cold enough to freeze Buckhorn Pond enough to support about a dozen large men, but this winter was one for the records.  We had contracted with the firm to clear dead trees and debris on the side of the pond next to busy Buckhorn Road.  Rather than trying to clear this area from the roadside, Kevin had his men pile logs and debris on a heavy tarp and pull it across the frozen ice to the other side where it could be more easily loaded on trucks.  One of the fellows was assigned to sweep up all the debris from the ice–we expect him to go out for the U.S. curling team for the next Winter Olympics after all that practice!

The pond supported about a dozen men and equipment.

Our pond rarely freezes solid, but Mother Nature picked a perfect time for this cold snap!

We are so pleased with the work thus far.  The next step will be installing some beautiful plantings that will provide  screening from busy Buckhorn Road and add to the natural beauty of this space.  We will be adding native trees, bushes, and plants that will be at home in this environment.  Our spring-fed pond will become an even more special place to enjoy your sack lunch, read a book, and enjoy the quiet beauty of nature.  

Swans to Return to Buckhorn Pond

We know that many of you have expressed how much you miss the swans that used to grace Buckhorn Pond.  We have good news!  Innkeeper Lee presented John with two swans for Christmas!  The swans are coming from North Barrington, Illinois.  They cannot safely be shipped by plane until the weather warms up, so we look forward to their arrival this spring.  We are working on setting up our “swan cam” so that you can monitor the activities of this pair from anywhere!  In our January newsletter we will provide additional information on this pair and how we are preparing for them.  Be sure to read the article for additional information!

January 2, 2018

Public Library is a Local Treasure

Have you visited the Anna Porter Public Library during your travels to Gatlinburg?  From the windows one can see beautiful mountain views!  It is a very welcoming place to pull up a chair near the fireplace for a cozy read.  Visitors to our area are welcome to use the facility and may borrow books well as use the computers and wifi.  Services include books, movies, audio books, magazines, ebooks, newspapers and internet access.  The library has resources for geneologists and schedules adult art and craft classes with local artisans.

The Anna Porter Public Library serves both locals and guests.

Gatlinburg is fortunate to have a wonderful public library.

We are particularly fond of the library’s regional history special collection.  This collection includes more than 600 historical items detailing the cultural and natural history of Gatlinburg, the Great Smoky Mountains, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and southern Appalachia.  A unique feature of the collection is the group of historical audio tapes, with transcripts, which were recorded as long as 40 years ago.  They also have oral history video tapes that were recorded more recently.  

Monthly Book Club at the Library

John and I take great pride in being founding members of the book club that meets at the library.  We meet at 6:30 on the 4th Tuesday of each month for lively conversation.  Our taste in books ranges widely and our diversity brings interesting viewpoints to the discussion.  This month we are reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles and early feedback indicates our members are enjoying it.  Future books include:  Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, and The Trial by Franz Kafka.  If you are visiting, we would love to have you participate in our discussion.  The full reading list and directions may be found on the website http://annaporterpl.org.  

We suggest you visit the library the next time you are in our area.

December 18, 2017

Rachael Young: Second Mistress of Buckhorn Inn

As second mistress of the Buckhorn, Rachael Young left a lasting impression.

Rachael Young brought grace and charm to the Buckhorn Inn.

The second mistress of the Inn was my dear friend, Rachael Young.  Rachael passed away at age 98 on December 8, 2017.  Her love of  Buckhorn and her keen decorating eye are very much in evidence today.

Knoxvillians Rachael, Robert and Lindsay Young bought the Inn from Douglas Bebb in 1978.  Rachael explained to me that their key motivation was preserving the Inn as an important part of regional history and to protect it from commercialization.  Many of the pieces of antique furniture currently at Buckhorn came from the Young family.  Her background as an art professor at the University of Tennessee stood her in good stead as she guided the inn’s revitalization, including updating all the furniture and soft furnishings in the bedrooms and dining room and modernizing the kitchen.    It was Rachael who introduced air conditioning to Buckhorn and converted the water tower to a bedroom–still one of our most special places.  She brought a timeless, unstudied charm to this little mountain retreat. 

Second Mistress of the Buckhorn Lived a Life of Accomplishment

Rachael Young was a highly accomplished woman.  Intellectually gifted, she left Knoxville to attend Columbia University, a daring step for a young woman at that time, and went on in her lifetime to earn four academic degrees. During World War II, she worked for the Red Cross in England, France and Germany.  After marriage and two children, she became a beloved and respected art professor at the University of Tennessee.  A cancer survivor, she was anxious to begin a wellness community in order to provide cancer patients and their families the opportunity to be active participants in their healing.  Now called the Cancer Support Network, the organization plays a vital role in regional cancer care.  She was very interested in holistic medicine and she inspired the creation of our annual Mindfulness Meditation Retreat.    We created Rachael’s Labyrinth in her honor.   She was a woman full of effortless grace and full of laughter.  As I began my time at Buckhorn, we had Sunday morning phone calls about the goings-on up here in the mountains and, bless her, she never gave me a bit of advice but one:  “Don’t start your renovations in the kitchen as I did.  It will use up all your resources and you won’t have enough to do the fun things.”

Rachael passed on her love of Buckhorn to me, and every day, in every way, she inspires me still.  

 

 

November 28, 2017

Sugar Cookies Are a Handful of Goodness

Whether you are baking for guests or Santa, the buttery refinement of the sugar cookie can’t be beat!

Lore has it that the first sugar cookies appeared around the seventh century. It is possible that a baker around that time used mini versions of his cakes to test the temperature of his oven. When he began selling these mini-cakes, the sugar cookie was born!

The type of sugar used makes a difference in the texture of the finished cookie. Fine sugar granules will make a cookie that is flatter and crisper. Large sugar granules result in a thicker, chewier cookie. This is because the dissolving of the sugar causes the dough to spread. If the sugar is coarser, it will dissolve more slowly.

Our recipe makes about 4 dozen soft and scrumptious cookies. One way to make them uniquely yours is to use a cookie stamp. The die blocks transfer patterns to the cookies that you can then decorate with food paints and sprinkles. Enjoy!

Buckhorn Inn Sugar Cookies
1 cup Butter, softened
1 cup Vegetable Oil
2 large Eggs
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 cup Confectioner’s Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla
4 ¼ cups All-Purpose Flour
½ teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
½ cup additional Granulated Sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter, oil, eggs, sugars and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture. Form into 1 inch balls and roll in granulated sugar. Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and flatten. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until light, golden brown. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes before placing them on a cooling rack.

Holly is a Seasonal Favorite at Buckhorn Inn

Have you admired the holly bushes on the Buckhorn Inn Nature Trail?  We have two American specimens of this beautiful evergreen.  

The thick green leaves and bright red berries make holly a popular winter decoration.

Many different types of birds feed on bitter holly berries.

The thick, spiny leaves provide color in the landscape year round.  And wildlife, including many different bird species, feed on the bright red berries.  Interestingly, the berries are hard and inedible during the fall and early winter months.  It takes several frosts, or freezes, for the fruit to become softer.

Symbolism of Holly

To the ancient Druids, the leaves  offered protection against evil spirts.  In those days holly was often worn, sometimes as a wreath around the head.  It was viewed as being a sacred plant because it remained green all winter.

In some traditions of Wicca, the Holly King is one of the faces of the Sun God.  He was born at midsummer and rules from the autumnal equinox to the vernal equinox.

In the Christian faith, the sharp leaves harken to the crown of thorns worn by Jesus and the red berries symbolize drops of his blood.  

The evergreen is often used in decorations for the Chinese New Year.

Growing Holly

Whether evergreen or deciduous, the plant prefers a moist location, and partial to full shade.  It grows well planted under, or around, large trees.  This plant can grow up to 50 feet in height, if not kept pruned to size.  Therefore it can be grown as a tree, bush, or hedge.  Both male and female plants of American holly are necessary to produce the bright red berries.  It begins to produce small white spring flowers and then berries when the plant is four to five years old.  You can find a wealth of information on growing this favorite from the Holly Society of America http://www.hollysocam.org

You can cut your own branches to fashion wreaths and centerpieces.  Just be sure to wear protective gloves when working with holly–the leaves are sharp!

Winter Fun in the Smokies

If you’ve visited the Smoky Mountains National Park area in the summer, spring or fall, then you know it can get a little crowded here. That’s why you should consider a getaway during the wintertime. You’ll find fewer visitors and traffic, enjoy clearer views of the landscape, and even enjoy some sunny days in the crisp winter air.   You can also enjoy our Great Winter Escape at a great price. Take advantage of this great 25% discount package– two nights of lodging, breakfasts on two mornings, and dinners on two nights. All for $320 for a traditional room or $385 for a cottage or premier room. 

Great Winter Hiking on Amazing Trails  Alum Cave is the most popular winter hiking trail in the Smokies.  At the bluff you can see beautiful frozen icicles and breathtaking mountain views.  Other great winter hiking trails include Charlies Bunion, Andrews Bald and the Little River Trail.  And our own Porter’s Creek—just a stone’s throw from Buckhorn—offers easy walking along the river or a more challenging climb to Ramsey Cascades.

Take a Drive through the Mountains  In the winter, the mountaintops are covered in a beautiful white dusting of snow.  There’s nothing prettier than the view from Cades Cove Loop in the winter with its snowy landscapes across wide open fields.   If you are lucky, you might see a few white-tailed deer.  But you may also glimpse otter, bob-cat, red fox, mink, red squirrel.

Moonshine, Whiskey and Wine  Take a stroll down Gatlinburg’s main street and get a free taste of the locally made moonshine, whiskey and wine.  One of the best places to visit is Ole Smoky Moonshine because it offers great rocking chairs and live bluegrass music.

Go Skiing at Ober Gatlinburg  Gatlinburg is home to a favorite attraction – Ober Gatlinburg. Along with indoor ice skating, an alpine slide, restaurants, and an arcade, it also offers skiing, snowboarding, and tubing! Kids can learn at the ski school, and there is even a terrain park for the more adventurous boarders!

Shop ‘Til You Drop  Avoid the crowds and shop the great Five Oaks Shopping Mall this winter with its more than 100 stores. Explore the beloved Christmas Place with its over-the-top supply of everything Christmas and enjoy its January sales.  Check out the Smoky Mountains Arts and Crafts Loop at our front door.

Explore History  Glenn Cardwell Heritage Museum celebrates the heritage and culture of the people of the small mountain town of Pittman Center.  Find out about the area’s first settler, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War, who arrived in 1784, and the migration of people who were forced to leave their homes when the National Park was established in the 1930s.

Waddle with the Penguins  Take a stroll through Ripley’s Aquarium in downtown Gatlinburg where you can splash with rays, sleep with the sharks and take a ride in a glass-bottom boat.  The latest exciting exhibit focuses on Pearl Harbor.

Renew Your Spirit in the Serenity of Buckhorn Inn  For many of us life can be a rush.  Slow down with a quiet dinner for two in our dining room overlooking the Smokies, read a book in front of a fire, enjoy a massage, take a nap in the afternoon, or reflect on life with your partner.

 

November 20, 2017

We Are Thankful for the Buckhorn Family

We are so pleased that many of our long-time guests refer to themselves as part of the “Buckhorn Family”!  When John and I purchased the Buckhorn, we expected to provide travelers with a respite from the rush of everyday life, and an opportunity to renew their spirits in the tranquility of nature’s bounty.  What has delighted us most is that we also are providing a place for family and friends to connect and celebrate each other.  Nothing pleases us more than to have a couple or a group announce to us that this is their 5th, or 12th, or 27th visit to the Buckhorn!  

Lee and John Mellor look forward to seeing members of the Buckhorn Family.

Over the last 20 years, Lee and John Mellor have added many wonderful guests to the Buckhorn Family.

Comments from Buckhorn Family Members

We gathered many comments from guests in the book The Buckhorn Experience”.  Here is a sampling:

“The fireplace is the perfect backdrop for a cozy opportunity to chat with newly-made friends.”  Cyndy

“We are sitting here tonight watching the fire, with a good wine.  Everything here is peaceful.  Why would you want to be anywhere else?  This is and always will be my favorite place to stay.”  Cindy and Lamar

“Our ninth visit is as memorable as ever.  As my wife said to Lee, the Buckhorn trip is not like going away, it is like coming home!”  Philip and Judy

“We do not leave this place behind, for in our hearts, we will always carry the love and beauty we found here.”  Babe

“Our 12th trip to the Buckhorn was just as wonderful as the others.  We look forward to returning next fall!”  Grady and Cindy

“We have been coming here so long, we can’t agree just how many times we’ve been here!”  June

“We celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary here with four other couples who have also been married for 35 years.  Just as good as it was 10 years ago when we were all here for our 25th!”  Mel and Bobbie

“There’s magic here.  It’s subtle.  Worries and fears slip off like ill-fitted garments.”  Suzan

“Every time I go to the Buckhorn Inn, I always come away with new friends.  I don’t go to the Buckhorn to get friends.  I have plenty already.  But these are special friends, who have shared the Buckhorn experience.”  Douglas

Thank you to all our wonderful guests for being part of the Buckhorn family.  We wish you a joyous Thanksgiving!

 

November 13, 2017

Dessert Is Always a Guest-Favorite at Buckhorn Inn

Guests tell us that dessert is a highlight of any Buckhorn Inn dinner.  And why not!  With such delights as coconut cream pie, apple-cranberry crisp, and our special “that” chocolate cake, all dinners end on a sweet note.  But have you ever wondered about the history of dessert?

How Dessert Came to Be

Ancient peoples enjoyed dried fruits and nuts candied with honey.  However it was not until the production of sugar that sweet dishes became popular parts of a meal.   Sugar was expensive, so sweet treats were reserved, for the most part, for the wealthy and special occasions.  

In the United Kingdom, desserts are often referred to as puddings.

Desserts include pies, cakes, puddings, fruits, ice creams, and other sweet treats.

In Medieval Europe, sweet and savory dishes were served alongside each other.  It was not until the 1600’s that service a la francaise (serving all dishes at once) became replaced with service a la russe (serving one course after another) and sweets claimed their place as the final course of a meal.

It was at that time that the word “dessert” came into popular use.  The word comes from the French word “dessirvir” which means “to clear the table”.  In other words, desserts were served after the table was cleared of main dishes.  For more information on some of your favorite meal-enders, visit http://www.history.com/news/hungry-history/category/desserts

The recipe for one of our guest-favorites appears below.  Enjoy!

Brown Butter Almond Torte with Sour Cherry Sauce

This torte makes a company-pleasing dessert

This torte is a favorite dessert at the Buckhorn Inn.

Torte

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup blanched almonds

1/2 cup AP flour

1 cup sugar

3/4 tsp salt

6 large egg whites

1/3 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Butter and flour a 9″ round cake pan.  Melt butter over moderately low heat.  Continue to cook until golden brown with a nutlike fragrance.  Cool and then stir in vanilla.  In a food processor finely grind blanched almonds with flour, 2/3 c. sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt.  With an electric mixer beat egg whites and remaining 1/4 tsp salt until they hold soft peaks.  Gradually add remaining 1/3 cup sugar, beating until meringue holds stiff peaks.  Fold in almond mixture.  Then fold in butter mixture.  Batter will deflate.  Spread batter into cake pan and top with sliced almonds.  Bake 35-40 minutes until tester comes out clean.  Cool in pan on a rack 15 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool completely.

Sour Cherry Sauce

3 cups sour cherries, pitted.  (about 1 1/2 lbs.)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1 tsp cornstarch

Bring cherries, sugar and water to a boil.  In a cup stir together cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water until dissolved.  Stir into cherry mixture.  Simmer sauce 2 minutes and cool to room temperature.  This recipe makes 6-8 servings.

 

October 29, 2017

Halloween Happenings at Buckhorn Inn

Scary Jack-o-lanterns are a common Halloween decoration.

Scary carved faces were intended to keep the spirit of Stingy Jack at bay.

We love celebrating holidays at the Buckhorn Inn–and Halloween is no exception!  Innkeeper Lee Mellor recently conducted a pumpkin carving workshop for our guests.  They made some amazing Jack-o-lanterns!  

The guest Jack-o-lanterns did justice to traditional Halloween themes.

Bats, witches, and ghosts. . . Oh My!

Have you ever wondered from where the tradition of pumpkin-carving came?

A Brief History of Halloween Jack-o-lanterns

It all began with an Irish folktale.  The tale revolves around Stingy Jack, who fooled the devil twice.  When he eventually died, he was too dishonest to go to Heaven.  But the devil had been tricked into promising not to claim his soul.  The devil sent him away from the gates of Hell with a single burning coal to light his way.  Ever resourceful, Jack carved out a turnip to use as a lantern.  In Ireland and England, children would put burning embers in carved turnips, beets, gourds, or potatoes and used them to frighten passers-by.  The glowing vegetables often were placed by the front door of homes in order to scare away the spirit of Stingy Jack.  The use of vegetable lanterns became associated with Samhain, an autumnal Celtic festival that marked the end of the harvest season.

When the Irish, English, and Scots came to the United States, they brought this tradition with them.  Pumpkins, native to South America but long cultivated by Native Americans, became the perfect canvas for creating Jack-0-lanterns.  In the early 1800’s, the celebration of Samhain was replaced by the Halloween traditions we know today.  

If you carve a pumpkin this year, roasted pumpkin seeds make a delicious seasonal snack.  You can find a recipe with several variations at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/pumpkin-seeds-recipe-2105941.

Jack-0-lanterns are one of the most common Halloween decorations.  In legend they keep away evil spirts or guide lost souls home.  But today they serve as a flickering sign of the season.

October 23, 2017

Mount Le Conte is Buckhorn Inn’s Backyard

Mount Le Conte is a beautiful backdrop to dinner at the Inn.

The view of Mount Le Conte from the Buckhorn Inn veranda is breathtaking.

Rising 6,593 feet, Mount Le Conte accounts for the majestic view from the Buckhorn Inn veranda.  It is the highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that is entirely within the state of Tennessee.  It is the third-highest peak in the national park, behind Clingman’s Dome and Mount Guyot.  

Who is Mount Le Conte named after?  There is a bit of controversy about that.  Joseph Le Conte is listed by the United States Geological Survey as the famous geologist for whom the mountain was named.  Others believe the mountain was in fact named for Joseph’s brother, John Le Conte, who was a physicist at South Carolina College.  What we do know for sure is that Paul Adams, an enthusiastic hiker, had a major impact on this area.  In 1924 he joined the Great Smoky Mountain Conservation Association, whose mission was to make the region into a national park.  As part of the campaign Adams led a group of Washington DC dignitaries on a hike up the mountain so that they could appreciate first-hand its rugged beauty.  The trip was successful and eventually the entire region became protected as part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

There are five trails that hikers may use to reach the summit of Mount Le Conte.  They are the Alum Cave, Boulevard, Bullhead, Rainbow Falls, and Trillium Gap Trails.  Millions of years of erosion and weathering have given Mount Le Conte its gently sloping shape.  It is composed largely of sandstone, siltstone, and shale that was formed hundreds of millions of years ago.  One remnant of the Ice Age can be seen today–a dense stand of Southern Appalachian Spruce-Fir Forest blankets the upper slopes.

Lodging at the Top of Mount Le Conte

The Le Conte Lodge, established in 1925, is the inn with the highest elevation in the eastern United States.  Guests may only access the lodge by hiking.  Its inaccessibility means that supplies are brought to the lodge by llama train and helicopter.  http://www.lecontelodge.com

During your next visit to the Buckhorn Inn we encourage you to appreciate Mount Le Conte, whether that means hiking to the summit or enjoying the view, spiced tea in hand, from one of our veranda rocking chairs.