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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.  



April 16, 2014

Times Past, Times Present, Times Future

I spent some time at the Buckhorn in with my parents, Phoebe and Neil Montgomery, when I was very young.  While you might not know that name, my mother’s sister was Liz Strehlow, which really will say it all!  My dad wasn’t much of a traveler, but when Liz and Bob invited them down to visit them at the Buckhorn Inn, there was no hesitating, and I got to come along.  It must have been in the late 50’s and early 60’s that I accompanied my parents.  I remember playing with the Bebb’s children, as I was often alone and left to my own devices, which was wonderful as I could explore the Inn’s grounds.

I must say the comment in the history section about Bob driving up and honking his horn upon reaching the Buckhorn’s driveway is really funny as he was the worst driver ever.  My parents and the Strehlow’s loved playing bridge and pitch over some of that Jim Beam.

This all came up as my nephews are hiking the Appalachian Trail and I remembered my wonderful times in the area and I have told my own children of my memories of the coming down to the Buckhorn Inn and thought I would see if it still existed.  What a surprise to see your wonderful website.  It is on the bucket list to come to that area in the spring, and I know we will be in contact. Thanks for a wonderful 75th review, and I hope your 75th year is successful.  Best regards,  Liz Neumann, Iowa

January 28, 2014

Memories Contest Winners Announced

Celebrating 75 Years of Hospitality     1938-2013 

Thanks to everyone for the heart-warming memories you shared with us during our 75th Anniversary year.  Every single one was a winner of our hearts. 

The following were selected to receive the gift of dinner for two the next time they book a stay with us.  Tom and Mary Kollie will receive the grand prize of a complimentary two-night visit.

Continue  down on this page and the following page to read each entry.

The Blizzard of ’93 at Buckhorn Inn  Eddie and Virginia Wilson 

Buckhorn Inn and Roast Beef Hash Anne Ogden 

A Unique Guest Memory   Bill and Gwen Baddley 

Healing the Soul  Connie Layne 

Memories of a 1955 Honeymoon  Tom and Mary Kollie* 

Perfectly Beautiful Weekend  Ben and Kitty Coffee 

Where Guardian Angels Live    Norm and Linda Campbell 

Coming Home!   Georgia Hobb 

Precious Memories  Terry and Terri Morgan 

Tractor Driving Lessons  John Warren 

Some Things Change—Other’s Don’t    Malinda Lewis 

Always the Same but Always Changing    Bob Holsaple 

Happy Thoughts   Nancy and Sherold Walker 

The Perfect Hosts   Constance and Michael Beaubien

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

December 5, 2013

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.

November 20, 2013

Perfectly Beautiful Weekend

Thank you for the privilege of enjoying one of the most perfectly beautiful weekends we can recall as Friends of Buckhorn Inn guests. Starting with the delicious dinners prepared by Chef Bob (both the salmon and beef were just right!), we thrived on the feasts, the well manicured walks by the gardens, the tranquility,  the lovely new decor in Cottage 6, and the thoughtful attention to detail by your exceptional staff.  We were not alone in our assessment as virtually every guest writing in the three volumes of guest books extolled you both as innkeepers, the extraordinary staff you have assembled and the transformative atmosphere of Buckhorn Inn. For your exquisite hospitality we are so grateful.  Ben and Kitty Coffee

November 15, 2013

Where Guardian Angels Live

Linda and I have celebrated every wedding anniversary at Buckhorn Inn sine we have been married.  When we arrived at Buckhorn in November 2013, we were celebrating our 25th anniversary.  In the later part of the 1990s, we added a visit the week prior to Easter each year. 

Buckhorn Inn is always warm and welcoming and provides a comfort that is like “going home.”  Just to sit in a cottage reading a book by the fire, taking a walk on the property or relaxing in the Jacuzzi, all in preparation for the best breakfast and dinner you will ever be served.

Last year on our first night at the Inn, Linda became seriously ill and was rushed to the hospital in Sevierville for six days.  Each morning, Lee would sit with me before breakfast for updates on Linda’s progress.  She, John and the staff gave their personal support and concern beyond any expectation.  But their response was natural, personable, and part of what makes Buckhorn Inn special.

Lee, John and their staff are part of our extended family.  When we think back on the many changes in our lives–careers, becoming grandparents, loss of loved ones, retirement, aging–we are blessed to have Buckhorn Inn as a “special peaceful place” to reflect, focus and rejuvenate the spirit that supports us.  We both believe in “Guardian Angels” and we know where they live–Buckhorn Inn.  Norm and Linda Campbell, Beaufort, SC