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July 17, 2017

Famous Guests at the Buckhorn Inn

What do you have in common with former Second Lady Tipper Gore and with the late actress Patricia Neal?  You all have been treasured guests at the Buckhorn Inn!

Tipper Gore and Patricia Neal are among the Buckhorn's famous guests

The Buckhorn Inn has hosted many important guests, including you!

Tipper Gore was a Buckhorn Guest

Tipper Gore served as the Second Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001.  She was encouraged to visit the Buckhorn by our regular guest Lucia Gilliland, a member of her staff.  Longtime friends of the Gores, Lucia served as an official advisor to them in the White House.  Her husband, Jim, served as Chief Legal Counsel for the Department of Agriculture.   As related in the book The Buckhorn Experience, Tipper came during her husband’s time in office.  Therefore she brought with her a round-the-clock coterie of secret service officers as well as several staff members and every level of law enforcement.  At the time the only internet connection at the Buckhorn was in the kitchen.  So every morning Tipper’s chief of staff came down in his pajamas, set up his computer on an ironing board, and got to work.  No word on whether the breakfast chef slipped him any special treats!

Tipper is an author, photographer, and social issues advocate.  You will see the lovely letter she wrote to us framed in the Buckhorn Inn office.  For more on Tipper Gore’s current work, please visit http://www.tippergore.com.

Patricia Neal also Enjoyed the Buckhorn Inn

Born in Kentucky coal country, Patricia Neal grew up in Knoxville and attended Knoxville High School.  She was known as Patsy Louise Neal back then.  She began to go by “Patricia” when she began her long and successful acting career in New York City.  She never forgot her Tennessee roots, once saying “We Tennessee hillbillies don’t conk out that easy”!  She won a “Best Actress” Oscar in 1964 for Hud in which she played opposite Paul Newman.  In 1978 the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center opened at the Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center.  The center cares for patients suffering from disabilities and such traumas as stroke and spinal cord injuries.  Patricia visited the center in Knoxville every year until her death in 2010.  The Buckhorn Inn served as a wonderful escape for Patricia.  The Inn was a place where she could relax, drink in the calmness, and revisit the natural beauty she so loved about Tennessee.

March 27, 2014

Always our “go-to” place to stay in Gatlinburg – Review of Buckhorn Inn, Gatlinburg, TN – TripAdvisor

 We have lost count how many times we have stayed here and are never disappointed. Our preference is to stay in one of the premier rooms, ideally premier room 1 or 2 located on the first floor in the newer addition to the lodge facing the mountain view. Premier room 4 is like an apartment with a full kitchen, dining, sitting, and living rooms and is located on a lower level of the lodge, with maximum privacy and a lovely mountain view from its balcony. Premier rooms 1, 2, and 3 would be excellent choices for folks with mobility issues.We have stayed in a couple of the traditional rooms upstairs in the lodge. These are original to the lodge and are somewhat smaller than premier rooms, but each is uniquely decorated. The preferred traditional rooms would face the mountains.We have also stayed in the Lindsey House separate from the lodge but still on the property. The bedrooms are on a separate level from the living area and therefore would not be the best choice for folks with mobility issues. The Bebb House next door would then be a better choice since it appears to be one level only.  

A delicious multi-course breakfast is always included in the lodge dining area, with a menu specialty in addition to breakfast standards made to order. The wait staff is always pleasant and efficient. The classical music in the background adds to the relaxing ambiance that begs one to linger. One of the owners, Lee or John, is often present to greet you as well. If you choose, a delicious single four-course gourmet menu dinner is served each night at 7PM for a set price. Dietary adjustments will be accommodated whenever possible with advance notice. Reservations are required. We have never been disappointed! Presentation and service are always given great attention.We have stayed here when our desire is to hike in the park or shop the outlets or in town, or to have a quiet place to avoid distractions from home for my husband to study for his recurrent bi-annual pilot training. There is a lovely sitting area downstairs in the lodge for reading and conversation. A sweet dessert snack is available in the afternoons, and complimentary coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and pepsi colas are always available.We have never stayed in the cabins so I have no experience from which to report on them.I highly recommend staying here any season, which we have. The mountain views are ever-changing and most relaxing anytime.


Our third year in a row here at Buckhorn Inn. We will be back for many more! – Review of Buckhorn Inn, Gatlinburg, TN – TripAdvisor

We just enjoyed out third year in a row at Buckhorn Inn and I can assure you we will most definitely be back for many more. What is exceptional about this place is the atmosphere (peaceful), the people (outstanding service and a kind personable approach) and the FOOD! I cannot say enough about the chefs here. The food is 5 star quality and combined with the outstanding staff you can’t beat it. I would recommend this place to anyone looking for a quiet, peaceful spot in the Gatlinberg area that has both beautiful rooms and cabins, and great food.


December 16, 2013

Guests Recall The Blizzard of ’93 at Buckhorn Inn

In some 27 years of visiting the Buckhorn, our most treasured memory is of enduring the natural disaster that was the Blizzard of 1993, a.k.a. “The Storm of the Century.” The storm was a bona fide natural disaster, starting in Florida with deadly rain, wind and flooding, and morphed into a mid-March snowstorm that buried the southeast and eastern seaboard. It is recognized by NOAA as one of the five worst storms of the twentieth century.

We arrived at the Buckhorn on Thursday evening for a long weekend “spring break” of hiking and relaxing, and within 24 hours knew that we were in for much more of an adventure than we ever dreamed. Also with us as guests of the Inn that weekend were the four delightful couples from Oak Ridge that were here for a weekend of bridge – Gordon and Jean Jones, Norman and Louise Hildreth, Ervin and Sarah Kiser, and Clyde and Ada Hopkins. Martin Rosenberg and Liz Morgan, college professors from Kentucky were staying in one of the cabins, as were Riaz and Behroz Padamsee, business owners from Raleigh, N.C. The Inn was substantially full for its capacity at that time.

On Friday the weather forecasts were generally predicting 12 – 18 inches of snow. On our Friday morning hike to Alum Cave a light snow started by mid to late morning, and when we reached the parking lot it had turned to rain. After some shopping in

The blizzard of '93 began during Friday night.

The blizzard of ’93 began during Friday night.

Gatlinburg, we headed back to  Buckhorn, making a strategic stop at Park Liquor, just in case. On Friday night we watched a steady snowfall start to accumulate on the front porch hedgerow, and even as we went up to the Tower Room at bedtime that 12 – 18 inches seemed pretty accurate. But then during the night we woke up to hear noise in the parking lot, and looked out to see Rick Willard, one of the inn employees, and John Burns, innkeeper at the time trying to grade snow off of the parking lot with a tractor. Then we realized the electricity was off, and it was game on.

On Saturday morning we came downstairs to join everyone huddled in front of the fireplace listening to a battery operated radio, and watching it continue to snow. The inn had a generator large enough to run electricity for parts of the inn, but not all at the same time, so there was strategic switching between running heat, lights, coffee makers, and the water pump in the main inn. Jo Ann Preske was the only staff member that could get to the inn, walking from her house up on Buckhorn Road. Jo Ann and Connie Burns had to handle the cooking and strategically planning the use of food on hand to feed guests three meals a day instead of just two. Then there was the concern of keeping gas for the generator. We all actually volunteered to let the staff try to siphon gas out of the cars, but discovered that cars had baffles installed on the gas tanks to prevent gas theft! Luckily, John and Rick managed to get to a gas station at some point to replenish the supply. So looking back on it from today’s vantage point the whole situation had lots of potentially scary pitfalls, not the least of which was the fact that the temperatures were frigid – near zero. Yet everyone kept their composure and just adapted to the situation as best possible. We washed dishes, helped take firewood to the cabins, read books, talked, the bridge players played bridge, and we chilled wine in the snow. The fireplace area looked like a refugee camp with coats and gloves and boots strewn about to dry at least a bit.

The snow continued on Sunday. Everyone boiled water in the kitchen to take up to the rooms to sponge off, wash hair, etc. At some point later in the day Sunday the snow stopped, and the men went outside

Snow filled the entire veranda space and the hill beyond which became an ideal sledding venue.

Snow filled the entire veranda space and the hill beyond which became an ideal sledding venue.

to tackle the job of cleaning snow off of the cars. That is when we got the official snowfall measurement of 34 inches. At the time Eddie and I had a Pontiac Transport minivan that was almost entirely covered. One of the most interesting differences between then and now is that none of us had cell phones in 1993. Fortunately, one of the folks from Oak Ridge had a car phone, which was the predecessor of the cell phone, and he was very kind to let those of us who needed to call family, work, dog sitters, and others to let them know we were safe and coming home as soon as possible. The main issue we had with getting home was the road condition for access roads from the Buckhorn to the main highways. There was not only ice but also downed trees and limbs. By Monday, many were able to begin leaving, but we waited until Tuesday morning because of the 7 or 8 hour drive back to Memphis and still allowing for some icy spots on I-40. On Monday afternoon many from the neighborhood came and sledded down the hill in front of the Inn, then on Monday evening a whole group from the neighborhood, including the G. Webb family and the Preske’s all pitched in to cook a great meal of what probably was some of the last food left. On Tuesday morning we threw dirty clothes in the minivan and took off for home!

Of all these memories, there is one that remains with me vividly, and that is the feeling I had when I went out late on Sunday afternoon and took a walk up Tudor Mountain Road. There was absolutely no sound – total stillness, total quiet. The awesome power of nature had brought our busy human activity and our all-important control, to a halt. In that moment it was very clear that something bigger than us was in charge. I’m not sure if that is how you know you’ve been through a natural disaster, but at that time it sure seemed that way to me.  

Eddie and Virginia Wilson, 1993

Eddie and Virginia Wilson, 1993


December 11, 2013

Buckhorn Inn and Roast Beef Hash

Roast Beef HashMy first memory of Buckhorn is from 1952 when I was six years old–61 years ago.  We were staying on the second floor in rooms looking over my beloved Mt Le Conte–my parents, a mother’s helper and me.  There were many trips after that, originally with then innkeeper Doub Bebb fixing a fine breakfast, a tradition I am grateful has continued and expanded under Lee and John’s gracious stewardship.  I came to the Inn over the years with my parents, my great friends Judge Macauley Smith and his wife Emmy, with other friends and hikers and for the past 15 years with my husband Boyce Martin.

This Thanksgiving (2013) is our fifth with Lee and John and what a feast it has been.  It wasn’t always this way.  One memorable Thanksgiving in the mid-1970s I was with the Smiths in the only heated building at the time–either Cottage 3 or 4.  The Inn itself was closed for the winter, but Doug agreed to let us stay in the cabin.  I slept on the living room couch.  Judge Smith and I wore matching fire engine red pajamas from LLBean.  Most memorable was our Thanksgiving dinner, cooked in the cabin in a cast iron skillet supplied by Emmy.  It was canned roast beef hash to which she added onions and green peppers–and lots of sour cream. It was delicious, enhanced no doubt by the invigorating mountain air and a generous amount of cheering libations.  The Judge was a bourbon man and supplied me with Boisiere dry vermouth.

Tonight’s 75th Thanksgiving feast is a far cry from canned roast beef hash.  But never changing is the majesty and magical beauty of my beloved Mt. Le Conte seen from the porch, rooms and cottages of Buckhorn Inn.  Anne Ogden, Treasured Guest, Louisville KY

Winter Wonder

This was a trip for my husband and myself for a getaway celebrating our 32nd anniversary. This visit was a 3 night stay.  The weather and mountain views spectacular, the swans were swimming on the pond entertaining us. Dinner and breakfasts were tastefully prepared, portions large and  service was attentive. Our room was in the Inn was small and cozy.  (There are larger rooms and cottages to stay in as well).  If you desire beauty of nature this is the place. It is secluded, off the tourist route. The staff and owners are there to see your stay is comfortable.  Glenda W.  Waynesboro Ky via Trip Advisor

December 5, 2013

Best Anniversary Dinner

I made reservations at Buckhorn Inn to celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary after it was recommended by several from Tripadvisor Forum. I am so glad that we did. It was such a quaint romantic evening. The staff was so hospitable and made our dinner special by seating us next to the roaring fireplace, and had decorated our table with cupid confetti and a happy anniversary table tent. The 4 course meal was delicious, and what an awesome value for only $35 each. Even the other dining guests were true examples of southern hospitality. One lady stopped by for casual talk and when we told her that it was our anniversary a few others must have heard, because several stopped by to chat and congratulate us. I liked the preset menu, and the spiced tea is absolutely delicious. It was dark when we arrived but one of the guests told us to come back during daylight because the views are magnificent of the highest point in the great smokey Mountains. We hope to come back again and actually stay at the inn. If you are planning a trip to Gatlinburg, don’t miss this place as a “Must” for your fine dining option.  Trip Advisor Review November 2013, kytraveler307, Georgetown, Kentucky

A Unique Guest Memory


From left, Bill and Gwen Baddley and Lee and John Mellor

From left, Buckhorn Guests Bill and Gwen Baddley and Innkeepers Lee and John Mellor

We recently had the pleasure of hosting Bill and Gwen Baddley from Baton Rouge–after an absence of five long years.  It was great to renew our relationship and to see them so healthy and happy.  They have been traveling the world these last few years and we have missed them.  They did a first for Buckhorn–producing a three minute video which shows them during a visit that had snow, Christmas decorations, and sunshine.  If you have the three minutes, click here to see the video.

November 25, 2013

Healing the Soul

I wanted to thank you for helping make this year’s visit to Buckhorn extra special. It was so nice to spend my birthday there and you helped make it so.  There are lots of beautiful parks to visit in this country, but Buckhorn makes the Smokies the best. The Buckhorn can’t heal the body, but it definitely heals the soul. It’s always good to meet old friends there and to visit our Tennessee friends, the wonderful Buckhorn staff.”  Connie Layne 2013 Ohio




November 22, 2013

Memories of a 1958 Honeymoon

Dr. Tom and Mrs. Mary Kollie reflect on their memories of Buckhorn Inn, beginning in 1958.

Congratulations to Buckhorn Inn on the occasion of its 75th Anniversary! It is most
exciting to be a tiny part of the Inn’s remarkable history, as the following story is shared
with great delight.

It all began on August 23, 1958, when newlyweds of a few hours embarked toward
Gatlinburg for the first night of their honeymoon. Their naiveté in not making reservations
came through when they reached this popular Tennessee resort town to realize that of the
numerous advertised accommodations, there were none available on that hot summer
night. Seeking other options, the young groom in this story took the fork in the road toward
Cosby that turned out to be most serendipitous!

Traveling along the Cosby highway, there shortly appeared a small, shingled sign reading
“Buckhorn Inn,” which pointed to a road to the left. Having nothing to lose and with hope
in the unknown, the 1955 red-and-white Ford made the turn and carried the now
suspenseful newlyweds up the steep, graveled road where they followed the signs to a
charming inn on the mountain side.

Upon arriving at the Buckhorn Inn, a lovely lady approached their car when they pulled into
the parking lot in front of the Inn. She peered into the car and saw the bride with her
corsage still pinned to her going-away outfit. Her heart must have taken hold of her head as
she kindly explained the situation at the Inn to the seeking couple. The Inn could not
accommodate them for dinner, but there was a small cabin on a little path on the hillside
that she would have available for them if they dined elsewhere. Upon being shown Cabin
#1, the couple decided it was the perfect honeymoon cottage; and they could not have found
a better place had they searched the region over! If that were not enough, they were offered
breakfast to be delivered to their cabin the next morning. As promised, neatly uniformed
young ladies came to the door with two trays of delicious breakfast fare and carafes of
coffee to fortify their wedded journey.

Good fortune continued to follow their lives as they made their home in Oak Ridge, TN,
where they have lived for 53 years and where they reared their three children. During this
half-century plus, they have had the pleasure of returning to “Buckhorn” a number of times.
Most recently, they celebrated their 55th Wedding Anniversary in Cabin #1. Innkeeper, Lee
Mellor, who greeted them warmly, appeared to be as excited as they were on their return to
the Inn for this anniversary celebration. The moment was strongly reminiscent of the day
55 years ago when another kind lady, Mrs. June Bebb, did so as well. It was an especially
happy occasion for the couple as they received e-mails from their children telling them they
were sharing in their day with their well wishes; and greetings from family and friends
congratulating them on their milestone.

So joyfully, please join the grateful couple in raising a glass to the Buckhorn Inn as it
continues, with both vision and grace, the tradition of hospitality begun 75 years ago. This
couple feels very enriched to have had the experience of the Inn and to foresee its promising
future toward its century mark! 

Top photo shows Cottage 1 in August 1955 when the Kollies first visited and in August 2013.

Top photo shows Cottage 1 in August 1955 when the Kollies first visited and in August 2013.


Dr. Thomas Kollie on his honeymoon at Buckhorn in 1955 and on his 55th wedding anniversary in 2013.

Dr. Thomas Kollie on his honeymoon at Buckhorn in 1958 and on his 55th wedding anniversary in 2013.


Just married Mary Kollie in 1955 and on her 55th wedding anniversary in Cottage 1.

Just married Mary Kollie in 1958 and on her 55th wedding anniversary in Cottage 1.