Saturday, February 11, 2012

SCONA LODGE - A Lost Treasure


I have been writing this blog for about eight years now and have enjoyed documenting the things that make me tick.  The many emails and comments I receive indicate to me that there are many folks looking in on the blog and enjoying the pictures and narratives.

I’m a little out of my expertise in presenting the following tale.  Everything in the story is historically accurate.  I could have written it in a plain, straight forward fashion but, I become bored quickly with such writing.  My favorite writer of early American History is Alan Eckhart.  His writings are fascinating and rivet me to each page.  He writes history in story form and makes the reader feel he is watching it on a movie screen.  He’s fantastic!  I make no claims of being an Allan Eckhart but, his style influences my hand that holds the pen.

I do not consider myself a writer by any stretch of the imagination.  I write primarily to document the times I spend while in the forests and on the lakes with my dog friends.  I do find it enjoyable.  That all being said I feel rather incompetent to write this piece in the professional way it deserves to be written, and so I really didn't write it.  Scona Lodge has no written word pertaining to its existence.  The Alcoa web site has a single sentence that states the company owned a lodge at one time.  It's hard to write about someplace that one doesn't know about, can't read about, visit or even look across the lake and see.  I left the story part up to Anne Hutchison who grew up at Scona Lodge.  Her memories offer an inside look at this unique retreat.   You can see the grandness of Scona through eyes that were actually there.  The history of Scona will emerge to the reader through her memories.    Scona was a place where people lived and worked from 1934 until 1990.  Those folks dedicated a large part of their lives at Scona Lodge making it a prosperous, grand retreat.   Their care and efforts created and maintained a fairy tale spot in a wilderness across a wide river.  Writing about such things is not only challenging, it’s a great responsibility.  It’s touchy writing about people’s lives and memories.  It's Anne's story.  I'll try to organize the information as best I can.  I would like to offer many thanks to The Alcoa Company for lending this grand fairy tale retreat in the wilderness for me to be amazed with and ponder in awe.

The tale of Scona Lodge revolves around the memories of a little girl who spent her early life growing up there.  Her parents acquired work at Scona and they moved across the river from the Alcoa Company town of Calderwood.  Anne’s memories are incorporated into this writing and her comments are added where applicable, and in her own words.  HER COMMENTS APPEAR IN BLUE THROUGHOUT THE PIECE.  It’s really her story.  Her comments ARE the story of Scona.  I left the writings of her memories unedited, as I received them from her.  They ramble from thought to thought and at times are unassociated with each other but, they create a window to the past that she, and you, can look through. It’s about places, people and things she loved and are no more. 

In the not too distant future there will be no one left to describe the fairy tale that existed across the river.  The photographs relating to Scona Lodge are few and the participants in her life even fewer.  I write about Scona as if she were a living breathing entity. There are no writings specifically dealing with  Scona Lodge that can be found.  Memories fade and disappear when there is no one left to remember them.

The story of Scona starts with a brief history of the area where Scona was built.  History indicates a cruel land in the early days of this country and the people of East Tennessee were not exempt from the dangers of the day - especially the Indians.


The sky was bright blue and a soft, warm breeze blew across the Little Tennessee River on that morning in 1788.  A small boy played in the mud down by the water as his mother crushed corn kernels on a huge flat rock further up the shoreline near their house.  The day started as just any other day for the Chilhowee Overhill Indians who made their homes on both shores of the Little Tennessee River.  Their town was located in a valley surrounded by tall, rugged mountains and inaccessible to all enemies but the most tenacious.  They had, in the past, participated in the Great War between the French and the English and retired here at the end of that contest.  They now awaited the invitation to enter the struggle for the Cherokee People’s existence against all whites: a struggle that the Cherokee had been engaged in for years and they would gladly, unhesitatingly, cast their lot into the fray.

He looked for his sister but could not see her.  He saw the old men gathered near the house nearest the forest.  It was the elders lodge.  There was word that war was nearing their world and the old men constantly talked of it.  Young girls, wives many, were gathering plums and some were carrying fire wood from the forests.  Many men of fighting age were off in the forest and on the mountain hunting deer or bear.   Several young men were fishing down at the river bank for trout.   The sun sparkled off their wet fishing nets as they twirled them overhead in preparation for the throw.  Life was good.  Everything was as it should be.

A commotion could be heard at the lower end of the village.  Three young girls were running through the little town, the frightened look on their faces indicated some sort of emergency.  He was curious but, it wasn’t his place to interfere with grown up business.  The girls ran past all the lodges to the last one where the elders were holding their daily debates.  He watched as the excited girls were silenced by the lowering of a hand extended by an old, old elder.  He was the chief of this little group of Overhills.  They stated excitedly that there were canoes crossing the river down stream not far from their camp and that there were many of them.  Their worse fears were realized.  The Whites were coming ----again.  They came here in the past and burned this village years ago but the Overhills rebuilt it.  The river had been a staunch friend in keeping the Whites at bay over the years.  They somehow managed a successful river crossing now.

The oldest of the boys were sent running to the mountains and into the forest to alert the warriors of the impending trouble.  The village was filled with a flurry of moving bodies as everyone attempted to gather up their belongings and flee into the forests and hide.  The old men pointed here and there yelling commands to one and all.  An ancient woman sat quietly ignoring the commotion all around her.  She would not leave.  Her days of running were over.  Run?  She had been running from the Whites all her life.   Run to where?  Run for what reason?  Better to stay here and let the White devils finally end her torment.

The first canoe touched land, followed by four more.  Soon all twelve boats would be on the shoreline of the Little Tennessee just a mile below the Indian town.  Each canoe held four men fully equipped for war.  Most were dressed as the farmers of the time would dress to tend their fields.  Only this day, hoes, shovels and rakes were replaced with rifles, tomahawks and knives.  A few of them wore buckskins and had the look of experience about them, their weathered faces grim and their callused hands gripped the canoe paddle in an experienced way, indicating their prowess in previous battles.

The canoes were quickly drawn up on the beach and shoved further under the trees and shrubbery at the edge of the woods.  Forty eight men quickly assembled to listen to a ten second dissertation from their leader, John Sevier, and they were quickly off, quietly jogging along in double file toward the Indian village a mile upstream. 

The elders knew they could not enter into conflict with these Whites as there were few guns in their camp.  Spears and arrows were no match for the rifles. Their only chance was to run.  A few hunters returned during the excitement and decided to stay in the village and do what they could to hold the Whites back until the villagers could allow the mountain to swallow them up.

Coal oil was splashed on the lodge at the end of the village and the torch applied.  It instantly burst into flame.  Then the next lodge was set afire.  Eight young Indian men huddled behind the fifth lodge and when two Whites, one with coal oil and one with the torch, approached the lodge;   three of them stepped into the open and shot the two men down.   The two young Indians instantly ran, only to be cut down by a volley of fire from the attackers.   The six remaining young men stepped to the left and to the right of the lodge they were behind, kneeled and drew back their bows.  They appeared calm and without fear.  They knew the destiny that awaited them.   Their arrows were released in unison and four white men fell as the flint tipped shafts found their marks.  The Indian boys did not rise up, nor did they attempt to flee as the Whites were upon them and with tomahawks’ split open their skulls. 

The ancient old hag watched as the buckskin clothed white man, with a grin on his face,  stood before her and raised his tomahawk, the thing already bloody red, in preparation to cleave her skull.  She simply bowed her head and awaited the peace she sought.

The Whites burned the entire town, picking up loot as they moved about, frequently hesitating to bludgeon in the skull of any Indian who might still hold breath.

A movement under a blanket was seen and the rag quickly swept away to reveal a little boy.  He couldn’t make it to the woods from the river bank so he hid under his mother’s blanket.  He was held up off the ground by his wrist and the filthy buckskin clothed scout drew his knife.  A hand fell onto the scout’s arm and the words, “we’ll take him with us,” were uttered.   The group, with their plunder, quickly made tracks toward the canoes.  They all launched together.  The little boy was placed into the first canoe and sat in the rear between the knees of John Sevier.  It was probably the only decent thing John Sevier did in his entire life.

The Overhill Cherokee village was burned down, the inhabitants scattered to the mountains.  They would return, however, and rebuild their town and live there until 1819 when white pressure would cause them to abandon the village forever.  The last Cherokee resistance was gone from the Tennessee Valley at Talasi and the land was open to the white man.  And, he took advantage of the occasion. 

The water of the Little Tennessee River was dammed up and the Overhill sites, along with their graveyards were buried under water created by Chilhowee Dam.  It is said that the lost souls of those buried Overhill’s cry out on cold nights from their mountain, and their waling’s can be heard across the river.


John Howard had a smile on his face as he left the Alcoa Company Headquarters in Maryville on a brisk fall morning in 1910.  He rubbed his cold hands together, held them to his face and blew on them in anticipation of their discomfort due to the cold.  His left hand reached inside his coat to the right hand shirt pocket to verify the check was still there.

John Howard bought the 1100 acre farm with the two story, 10 room house in 1874.  
His property was located upstream a few miles from the small community of Tallassee.  Several land developers had approached Mr. Howard over the years to buy the place but he had been reluctant to sell.  Legal issues concerning the Alcoa Company had to be considered.  The Alcoa Aluminum Company finally made Mr. Howard an offer he couldn’t refuse.  They had a project in mind to augment their hydroelectric operations in the Tennessee Valley and the Howard farm was positioned perfectly for what Alcoa had in mind.  The deal was consummated.

The town of Alcoa, later named Calderwood, would be built on the Blount County side of the Little Tennessee River on the property purchased from John Howard.  In later years the farm house and barn across the river was used as a clubhouse for the community of Calderwood


He wasn’t used to the rigorous climbing he was doing today and he gasped for huge quantities of air with every step.  A short rest was taken and again he set out for the top of the mountain.  He could hear the steam engine far off down the valley bringing the workers and supplies back to the tiny mountain town of Alcoa.   The date was 1926 and Glidden Calderwood had a plan in his head that would streamline the already lucrative business of smelting aluminum for the Alcoa Company.  His plan was to build a dam that would span across two mountains at the most narrow place in a gorge of the Little Tennessee River located just above the small village known as Tallassee.  He had discussed his plan with Alcoa board members and they showed great interest.  After all, Mr. Isaac Glidden Calderwood was Alcoa’s chief engineer who supervised the Alcoa operations throughout the entire Tennessee valley.  When he had something to say everyone listened.

Alcoa already had two dams on line producing hydroelectric power for their plants in Maryville, Tennessee.  Both Cheoah and Santeelah Dams were huge successes and made Alcoa a valuable financial entity for the state of Tennessee.  However, they were ready to expand operations and Glidden was actively pursuing a means for them to achieve their goals.

He rubbed his squinting eyes, looked down at his feet and said in a barely audible tone, “This is where I’ll build my dam.  Better get people up here to start tests on the rock.”

Alcoa built an encampment in 1912 to house workers and manage their holdings on the Little Tennessee.  The tiny village was aptly named Alcoa.  The workers there assisted in the creation of Cheoah Dam.  The community of Alcoa serviced that dam and the companies operations throughout the valley.  Eventually Santeetlah Dam was built and the little town grew and grew.  In late 1926, Isaac Glidden Calderwood, chief engineer for Alcoa, took control of the throttle that would drive the manpower engine needed to complete Calderwood Dam.  The work on the dam was started in 1927.  The town of Alcoa grew to bursting size with workers and workers families.  The name was changed to Calderwood in honor of Glidden Calderwood.  Glidden Calderwood upgraded the railroad system that ran up the mountain servicing the town of Calderwood and the new construction of the dam.  Life was good in East Tennessee.

Inhabitants of the town were all employed by the largest industry in the area and their successful futures appeared guaranteed.  Personal businesses grew and prospered.  Most people of Calderwood worked for the company.  They bought supplies and goods from a company store and later, Alcoa actually printed aluminum currency.  Calderwood had a school, a Baptist and a Methodist church and in later years a movie theater.  Eventually Calderwood Dam was completed and the requirement for all those workers diminished.

Attrition removed many families from the town’s numbers.  However, much of the town enjoyed prosperous times as the result of personal businesses that were started and flourished during the Alcoa partnership days.  Eventually, as the valley grew, the need for the goods and services became less and less until the writing was plainly written on the wall.  More and more of Calderwood’s citizens left the town for more lucrative positions in factories and businesses in the valley.  Maryville was booming due to the effects from The Alcoa Company.  Eventually Calderwood’s last occupants finally gave up and left.  The town was abandoned in the late 1960’s.   

My brother and sister were born in Calderwood. My Dad worked for Alcoa and TVA. My Dad and brother help build Chilhowee Dam and I remember when the dam stopped up the river to make a lake. There was a lot of controversy with regards to the Indian burial grounds being covered. That is another story. I grew up in Calderwood, went to the two room school. My Dad and Mom were very involved in the Methodist church. My Dad and other people that lived in Calderwood actually built a new church in about 1950. There was a Baptist church as well. Calderwood had a grocery store, post office, railroad station, theater, doctor or nurse named Ola Williams who gave me my first vaccinations and polio shots

Above:  the Methodist Church in Calderwood, Tennessee.  It still remains.

My Dad and brother along with other people in the community built the Methodist Church from the ground up and got enough donations to do all of the pews inside. Behind the church was a cemetery with vaults, crypt, and head stones. The church was up on a hill at the other end of the community.

Above:  Methodist Cemetery (It remains as it was)
Above and Below:  The Baptist Church lays in ruins

There’s not much left today of the original Calderwood.  The houses are gone and lonely sidewalks and streetlight poles are the only reminders that people tried to realize their dreams here.  It is so still here!  I wonder where these empty sidewalks used to go?

I can tell you about the sidewalks.  They mostly lead to someones home or the parks. We had two parks with playgrounds. The inhabitants of Calderwood, in the beginning, numbered in the 2000 of people living in the community. Growing up in the 1950’s, there must have been at least three hundred people living and working in the Calderwood area. Many stories of people's lives unfolded in this company village. Like any other community in that day and time people were living their lives as best they could without a lot of riches: Hard working families, raising children, instilling values, and sometimes hurtful losses. 

Anne Hutchison’s home

There was a polio epidemic that broke out when my brother was six years old. I remember my Mom talking about being at Blount Memorial Hospital with my brother John when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Doc Harelison drove from Maryville and took lumbar fluid from John and used the kitchen table for the procedure.  Mom said she was surprised at my brother’s language and didn’t realize that Johnny knew any curse words at that age.  Doc delivered both John and Kay at home when they were born.  I was the only child of my parents born in a hospital.

My family lived in Calderwood from about 1935 until I was 10 years old and that is when we moved to Scona. The house in Calderwood was a comfortable house, wood frame, we had a coal stove for a while and then central heat was installed. I made the coal house which was located in the back of the house my play house. My Dad cleaned it out and painted the inside light green. That is where I kidnapped a stray pup and hid her for a couple of weeks. Then my Dad found out and I thought he was going make me get rid of her. To my surprise he didn't, we took her to a vet in Maryville to get her shots, and "fixed". That pup was my sweet Blackie. The only time we could let her in the house was when it was really cold in the winter. My Dad had me  make her a bed at the back of the kitchen and she must have known to behave or she would be out in the cold again. She was as good as gold.
Calderwood was a close knit community- sometimes to close knit. My Mom was one of the few women that worked outside of the home except for the teachers. She really liked her independence and getting out of Calderwood by working in Maryville. Almost all of my clothes were made by my mother. She was an excellent seamstress. I know when Kay was in school at UT she had to have a lot of fancy clothing. Kay was some what of a socialite during her college days.
Calderwood had the two churches, boy & girl scouts, bridge clubs, pot-lucks, square dances, picnics, music concerts, piano teachers, town doctor, post office, theater, clicks, Christmas Carolers, Halloween pranksters, Fourth of July fireworks, baby and wedding showers, funerals, graduations, spelling bees, town hall meetings, kids getting into fights, kids getting to work off getting into fights, vegetable gardens, car washes, Mr. Kings general store, gas station, and kids playing kick the can.. Pretty normal stuff.
Then Alcoa started closing down our community. Families had to find places to live and work. Most went toward Maryville or Alcoa. I lost touch with a lot of the families and so did my parents. It was as if our lives ended..

Calderwood had a grocery store, an elementary school from grades 1 through 7, then we were bussed to Lanier High.
We had a theater, clinic, two churches, Alcoa office building, power house, two playground parks, about 40 to 50 homes, an old hotel & club house, tennis court, softball field, and a mechanic's garage, and many other community buildings. Our family had a large piece of land that we did a garden each year. My Dad was a workaholic. Alcoa even put out a newsletter every month. I remember this because they featured our family due to the large garden we had.

click on photo to enlarge

Dr. Herma Cate lived next door to us with her daughter Linda who was disabled and my age.  Jannie Griffits was my grade school teacher and died of Hong Kong flue when we had an epidemic in Calderwood.
I guess I was somewhat of a tomboy and liked being with my Dad a lot.  Most people thought he was harsh and he did have a mouth prone to a little cussing at times ut, who didn’t in the South?  He never said anything too harsh around my mother: that I do know.

The day was cold and the wind was up.  It was the second week of hunting season in December 1930 for Tennessee.  The party of three men stood on the banks of the Little Tennessee River just below the Calderwood power house waiting for a wooden motor boat that would take them across the river to the mountain they intended to hunt. The  CEO for Alcoa, was taking two corporate executives from the Westinghouse Company, out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on a deer hunt.  He paced back and forth, becoming impatient while waiting for the barely adequate boat to arrive.  His eyes were focused across the water where the farm house and tobacco barn sat that belonged to John Howard, a long time farmer of the fields they would, hopefully, soon be walking across.  All of a sudden his eyes widened and his stare across the water became intense as if he just thought of the greatest idea imaginable.  The boat could be heard sputtering up the river and he wiped the smirk from his lips.  An idea was born.

The CEO of Alcoa decided to create a lodge across the Little Tennessee.  It would be a place where hunters could stay to hunt the rugged mountains and valleys on the other side of the river.  There might even be a little profit to be made by leasing it to hunters and outdoors men.  Alcoa employees could use it for free.  A ferry crossing was created just below the Alcoa powerhouse and two thick cables were strung across the river that would guide a ferry boat to and from the old farm on the other side. A ferry landing, one on each side of the river, was created and an additional boat launch was constructed just upstream of the ferry landing on the Monroe County side.    John Howard’s old farm house would soon become The Alcoa Lodge.

The Alcoa Lodge would soon become a popular spot for invited visitors and company employees alike. .  At some point before 1934, public relations for the company started using the old farm house-lodge as a place where they could entertain corporate businessmen visiting Alcoa from other states.  The idea went over so well that often elite corporate friends from foreign countries were offered a weekend of hunting out of the old lodge across the river.  The unique experience of “roughing it” at the Alcoa Hunting Lodge sweetened many business deals for Alcoa and added that special experience for visiting executives that prompted them to sign on the dotted line.  Business was good.
The hunting lodge idea was so good that a new idea was materializing from the board room at Alcoa in Maryville.  What if they renovated the old farm house and barn and made it an upscale lodge with all the amenities found in any resort back in town?  It wouldn’t cost that much to do and the rewards of courting the rich and famous at a “super resort” would certainly influence potential business deals.  The idea was accepted by the entire upper management team and the go ahead was given to renovate the old hunting lodge. 

The project gained momentum in 1933.  Plans were laid out to build an extravagant retreat in place of the old Howard house and barn.  Cost concerns were set aside and the focus was to create an experience for a visiting corporate executive or dignitary that was second to none.  Buildings came and went but, experiences stuck in one’s mind forever.  It was settled then: a grand, new lodge would be created at the base of the rugged mountain across the river from Calderwood.  John Howard’s legacy was knocked down and Camelot was being reborn.

Douglas and I beached the boat on the shore line directly across from the Calderwood power house located on the Route 129 side of the lake.   It was an early springtime morning in 2006.  We walked down a dirt path and crossed a tiny, narrow stream.

 I noticed there was bamboo growing on the bank next to the water.  At first I thought it was cane as I never have seen cane before but, I well knew what bamboo looked like through experience.  No, it was bamboo - very strange indeed.   I continued on down the path a short ways to where a trail tailed off to the left.  I kept walking straight, and stopped.  What was that?  I took four steps back without turning my head and stopped.  When I turned my head to the left I couldn’t believe my eyes.

What in the world!  I tripped over my own feet getting to those steps.  Wow!  Hand cut stone perfectly placed. 

The workmanship was perfection.  What are these doing out here?  The vines gave the architecture an ancient look.  They were kind of eerie looking.  I slowly walked up the stone steps marveling at their perfection.  Stone flower pots were built into each wall at the top of both sides of the steps

I stood in wonderment and gazed all around this beautiful place.  A rectangular stone wall was surrounding some kind of floor.

The ground was too flat for it to be soil or stone.  I kicked some sticks and leaves away and saw to my disbelief a tiled floor.  This was some sort of patio.  How, what, where did this come from?  Why was it here?  This made no sense at all.  I photographed it and headed on down the trail beside the mountain.

The left side of the trail had a stone wall built against the cliff side probably to hold back erosion as well as for aesthetic value.  This was a wide trace I was walking on.  It reminded me of a logging road except it was really flat.  A building came into view up ahead.  What is this place!? 

A building that appeared to be made of slate lay ahead.  It appeared old and frail.  I can identify with that.  Closer inspection indicates it may have had a spring flowing into it at one time. 

 My father had such a building with cold well water flowing through it that he stored many thirty gallon stainless cans full of fresh milk when his dairy farm was active.

The sky was ready to open up with rain.  Lightning and thunder was growing closer by the minute and we had to make tracks.  I wanted to get home and check the Internet to see what this place was all about.  Little did I know that the stone steps I found today would turn my curiosity about them into a passion.  We would visit this site many, many times over the next six years without any idea of what these ruins were all about. 

I could find nothing on the Internet about the steps.  I checked maps and talked to the folks who lived in the area of Calderwood, Tennessee.  Some related what they thought was across the river but, they were not sure.  I dallied on the Internet off and on, checking and searching when the thought came to mind. 

Then one day I received an email from a lady who lived in California and saw my blog site.  She told me about the steps and what they were a part of a long time ago.   Curiosity and passion turned to obsession.   I decided to write about her memories of the place that sat adjacent to these steps.   The story is about what Alice didn’t find when she fell down the rabbit hole.  What follows is a story about a remarkable place that existed across a river and below a dam, at the base of a rugged mountain in the wildest country Tennessee has to offer.  The following is the story of Scona Lodge, and the memories of a little girl who spent the early years of her life there.

Most of the following segment about Scona Lodge will be told by Anne Hutchison.  After all – She was raised and lived there with her parents. I will merely try to maintain continuity throughout this document.  Her memories are written as she relayed them to me.  What you are reading is a tale about a beautiful Tennessee secret as told by one who was privileged to live there. Her memories are about the pride she has for wonderful parents and the story of Scona – a story that has never been told or written about.  You are reading the only accounts of Scona Lodge in print and you are getting the information from an innocent little girl who once called Scona her home.  Her memories and comments are printed in blue throughout the piece.

Strange; most people have a place they can call home. Both of my places, Calderwood and Scona, have been destroyed.  Guess I will just call the Smoky Mountains my home from now on.

The year was 1957.  Leslie and Dorothy Hutchinson chatted back and forth excitedly on the drive back from their meeting with Hugh McDade, the Head of Public Relations for Alcoa.  Information indicated that the current managers of Scona Lodge, the Smeltzers, were retiring.   The community of Calderwood was on its last legs and soon would be no more. This would no doubt create the need to find another house for Leslie (Hutch), Dorothy (Dot) and daughter Anne.   Dorothy held a part time job at Sears in Maryville and Leslie was a labor foreman for Alcoa.  Anne was 11 years old and would ride the ferry boat to Calderwood to attend school in the two room school house there.  This was a golden opportunity for the Hutchinson’s to work together as a family and eliminate the need to travel to work.  Housing at the lodge would be provided for by Alcoa.  It was all systems go.  Scona Lodge had new managers.


Above:  Scona Lodge

The Alcoa Lodge was a magnificent piece of work.  No expense was spared for the construction.   The Alcoa Sales Department took over the operation of the lodge in 1934 and named Mr. Hugh McDade, Chief of Public Relations, as the manager in charge of the entire operation.  Mr.McDade provided the lodge with an unending flow of wealthy executives and dignitaries throughout the years of the lodge’s existence.  The name Alcoa Lodge just didn’t sound creative enough for this masterpiece in the wilderness.  Some unique name was needed - something original - something Tennessee - something Cherokee.  The lodge sat across the river from Calderwood.  That was it!  The lodge would be called Scona, meaning “across the water” in the Cherokee language.  Scona Lodge was born.
If I sit and close my eyes I can almost see the people walking and enjoying this beautiful place.  But, let me digress a bit.  You might like to meet the little girl who grew up at Scona.  Her name is Anne Hutchison.  The little dog’s name is Blackie.  Their pictures are below:   Anne is 13 years old.  Her comments are printed in blue.

I wish I could remember the first week when we moved to Scona, and who moved our belongings. I must have been in school during the day and my Dad picked me up in his jeep. Kay and John were already out of the house in college at UT. I remember roller skating in the basement which was my play area. I loved watching my Dad build things with his hands in the basement. He was so organized. He loved to tie flies for fishing and taught me how to make flies. I remember when we moved how excited he was to have his own place to pursue his hobby at Scona. 

Below:  Anne and Blackie

Almost every summer Blackie would hunt down a copperhead and get bit at least once and sometimes twice. Once when my father and brother John were returning from playing a game of pool in the Cherokee room, John was bitten crossing the foot bridge by a copperhead. Blackie was behind both of them and went after the snake. She was bitten, but the venom was not as strong and therefore she did not swell up as much as John. We always kept a snake bite kit handy and my Dad did the deed on my brother and then on Blackie. It was late in the evening and the snake must have gone into hiding. I was told that copperhead snakes are basically blind and will strike at movement. I thought all snakes took this action. Two days later Blackie found the snake, endured another bite, and killed the snake. She brought the snake to our front door. My Dad applied the snake bite kit to Blackie again. This time she was critical and the venom almost took her life. We called the vet and he instructed my Dad on what to do. We had to basically use a poultice and apply ice packs. She made it through this incident. I stayed with her from beginning to end. I think I was about twelve, cried my eyes out, prayed to God to make her well, and slept on the floor in the basement with her. Eventually, throughout the years the many bites caused her little snout and cheek to decay away and probably her brain was damaged. She was a fierce, loving, obedient, and smart little companion.                                                            When I was away at school my father called me to tell me he was going to have to have Blackie put down. I made him wait until I could get home the next day from Nashville so that I could be with her. Needless to say it was a hard reality to lose my precious Blackie. I made my father and the vet let me bring her home to bury her at Scona. She is buried a few yard down from our front porch. My Mom planted a stand of daffodils on top of her little grave that bloomed the next spring and every spring thereafter.

The powerhouse for Calderwood Dam is located just off Route 129 South past Chilhowee Lake.  It is a gated road that winds down into the area that once was the original Calderwood.  The remains of the Baptist Church that served Calderwood sits on the left side of that road.  A left turn at the stop sign leads to the powerhouse. 

Above:  The Baptist Church of Calderwood

A right turn goes to the old ferry landing that was used to ferry cars across the Little Tennessee River and later Chilhowee Lake, to Scona Lodge. 

A concrete landing can be seen across the lake.  It can be seen at the left corner of the photo below.

A gorgeous golf course once graced the shoreline to the right of the ferry landing.  Now, Kudzu has covered it all.

Above is a close-up of the ferry landing at Scona Lodge.

Scona Lodge sat behind and slightly to the right of that landing.  It must have appeared to be a ginger bread house in the wilderness from the opposite shoreline.  A state of the art golf course was adjacent to the lodge and would have been to the right side of the ferry landing running down the shoreline.


The golf course had a special, hybrid Bermuda sod on the fairways. The sod alone sold for $500,000 when Scona Lodge closed.

The course was a nine hole course perfectly manicured and cared for by Ann’s father and, of course Anne herself.

My job in the summer was to help sweep off the dew with a cane pole by 7:00 AM.

I learned a lot during that summer about a golf course and how to maintain the quality of the fairways and greens.  I liked to watch the men mow the greens.  They cut the grass vertically  when mowing to make the greens more competitive for the players.  You could cut the greens a certain way and the ball would roll fast, or slow, or away from the cup. Since this was a nine hole course and to play eighteen holes there were two cups on each green.  Each green cup was different and this took skill to make sure the greens were mowed correctly.  Playing nine holes you had to go around the course twice.  I began to take pride in how beautiful the course was and all the hard work that each of us put into the care.

There were only a couple times that I can say I thought my father was going to have a cardiac attack.  One when my mom was playing nine holes of golf by herself.  From our kitchen window we could see the ninth hole.  My dad was fixing a gutter on our porch at the time. We could see Mom with her putter beating the crap out of the golf green.  My dads had very explicit four letter words he was saying under his breath with regards to what he could see my mother was doing to his pet golf green.  I was trying to hold back my giggles because it might have been a little too much for him to deal with.

What had happened was when my mother got to the green and was getting ready to take the pole our of the cup to make her putt, she noticed what she thought was a limb that had blown onto the green and started to pick it up. That is when she noticed the limb was a snake and a copperhead.  We had a lot of copperhead snakes around the lodge area. Our dog Blackie was the copperhead hunter and sustained may snake bites in her life at the lodge.  On that day Blackie was with me at the house.  My mother was terrified of copperhead snakes or any snake for that matter.  Yes indeed, she did kill the varmint and gave the greens a couple of ditz’s marks that needed repairing.  There was not a lot of conversation at the dinner table that night between my parents.

The lodge area consisted of the lodge itself, an addition named the Cherokee Room with an attached patio made of hand laid stone for the patio walls and tile floor.  The golf course ran up to that patio.  It’s interesting to note that the golf course was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. in 1957.  Mr. Jones has designed golf courses all over the world.  Alcoa hired the best of the best to equip Scona with fine golf greens.

My Father knew him Mr. Jones. On one occasion he accompanied Mr. Jones to do a golf project in Lebanon, TN and later on at Hilton Head. My Dad actually had a golf grass nursery, a small plot of land for the purpose of testing pesticides and grass nutrients to rid the golf greens of certain diseases.  I believe this area went away when he retired.  He was passionate with providing a beautiful golf course for the guests.


The photo below is Scona Lodge.  I call her Scona as if she were a living entity.  I guess I’ve visited the site so many times and have been infatuated by her history that I somehow feel cheated not to have had the privilege of visiting her when she was alive and vital.

She’s beautiful nestled in the woods at the base of that huge mountain.

The long section of guest cottages connected the lodge to the recreation and Cherokee rooms.  The Cherokee Room contained over 16,000 Cherokee Indian artifacts.  This is a quantity of artifacts to rival any museum in this or any other area.
Just look at her grand countenance below:

The Cherokee room was also the building where they kept the golf carts, clubs, slate sitting area, had a small kitchen, bathroom and recreation room.  It had a pool table, piano, and stereo. 
There was one glass display case containing Indian pipes, bowls, and hair pins, grinding tools, hatchet and maybe a couple of other items.  A monumental piece of my life disappeared and my past taken away with Scona no longer in existence.  How would I ever be able to show or tell my children of the wonderful place I grew up?  There is no longer any printed, photographed or documentation of Scona Lodge.  How could this happen to a beautiful creation in the Smoky Mountains?  Poof - just gone!  Only proof is thirteen stone steps and a rapidly diminishing tile patio.

One of many, many arrow head exhibits located in the Cherokee Room.

The photos are very old and the quality less than desirable but, they clearly portray the beauty of this magnificent lodge in the wilderness.  Lodge is really not the proper word to describe Scona.  She was a retreat - a magic get away mistress place for those who could afford her.
A patio was built adjacent to the Cherokee Room for the guests to lounge and watch friends as they played golf.  The patio was a grand piece of architecture in itself.  The stone work on the patio walls indicates that a high degree of craftsmanship was employed in their placement.  The tiling on the floor was impeccable.  I can attest to this as I’ve seen first hand the fine stone work on the only piece of Scona there is left.  One patio still exists, barely, at the base of the mountain.  Soon it will be engulfed by nature’s hand and the last remaining trace of Scona will be gone forever.

Note the beautiful stone work on the walls.  The patio floor tiles are wider and longer than the ones on the patio I photographed.
The patio above was attached to the main lodge and was right off the living room area. The wives watch as their husbands play a round of golf.  The Little Tennessee River is in the background.

Above are steps leading to the second patio that was located across from the butler’s and maid’s quarters.  A service road separated the patio from their house.  These photos were taken in 2008.

Oh, my Gosh, that is the patio that I would work so hard to clean off every summer and fall. How did this survive? I am still confused about the steps. I have to go there to put some of the puzzle pieces together. The only other stairways were from the basement below the kitchen inside the lodge, and the basement stairs in our house.

The tile flooring is like new.  It’s beautiful and perfect.  It is such a shame to allow this work to disintegrate.

I sent a picture of Scona Lodge, supplied by Harold Lyninger, to Anne and she was gracious enough to identify the pertinent parts of the lodge on the photograph.

The vine covered steps and patio I showed you earlier are located behind the servant’s quarters.  A narrow service road ran between the patio and the building.

There was one set of stairs in the main lodge and there was a basement, first floor, second floor, and an attic.  It is where the house linens and other supplies were stored. You couldn't tell it was there because of the trap door that was concealed by the paneling that matched the walls.
The basement was below the kitchen. The stone steps were just past the back entry to the kitchen.  My mother is sitting on a stool in the kitchen in the picture.

I thought she looked really pretty in that picture and happy. The basement was all cement except for one wall that was stone and wood, with storage shelves and well made cupboards. There were two rooms, one room for dry storage was about 12' X 14'., the next room was 12' X 8' and had a heavy metal door that was always locked. Expensive items were kept in this room, fine wines, liquor, beer, country ham, caviar, specialty items. In addition there was a freezer and refrigerator that had a stock of variety of seafood, meats, cheeses, cold drinks, boxes of cigars and raw food products. I loved going into the basement with the coolness, and the rich, woody fragrances that would hit you when you opened the door. In the summer Angela (maid) would ask me once in a while to fetch something for her in the basement. I can almost hear her now saying. Miss Ann, “ be careful on those steps, watch out for them old mean snakes hiding in the dark.” Angela hated the thought of snakes being any where near her.

The main lodge consisted of the kitchen, dining room, music room, phone room, balcony on the second floor that looked down into the living room, the living room, and kitchen. There was the main kitchen and adjoining the main kitchen was the butler’s kitchen. Second floor of the main lodge had, I think, five bedrooms with baths, and first floor had two bedrooms with a bath each. There were four cottages in a row that were connected to the game room and Cherokee room. All bedrooms had a sitting area, and bathrooms, all paneled, and very well appointed.  The patio was at the Cherokee and recreation room (golf club storage area where Billy Graham presented his sermon.) The entire lodge was not huge, but accommodating. By today's standards Scona would still be considered well made and appointed. It had a richness and beauty of its own. On a very small scale, a lodge equal to San Simeon's Hearst Castle, or the Biltmore Estate, the same rich quality and attention to detail.

The kitchen was over the storage area in the basement. The steps going down to the basement were 13 in all. I would count them when I had to take supplies down there as a kid. Cases of caviar, wine, canned crab, cases of capers, cases of baby corn, you name it we had it; top of the line in food product. Mom would go to a market in Knoxville to shop where she had an account or sometimes would take cash; fill up the Pontiac station-wagon and head back to Scona. A lot of times she would place the order by phone to save time.
She always made two other stops. One stop was to get the help something special to eat that they liked, and the other stop, a nursery in Maryville to pick up a special plant for her garden. I would always go with her and remember her always listening to the radio and a classical station.

Scona Lodge even had it’s own cook book with special Scona recipes.

The introduction is informative as to the history of Scona Lodge.

Left to right:  Joyce, Bill Isome, Hattie, Angela, Cordia
Part of the maid and butler service.  (The Staff)

All the rooms in the lodge were paneled in different wood of Tennessee. White pine, poplar, chestnut and cherry wood. I think our house was paneled in white ash. 
In addition we referred to the rooms that were connected to the Cherokee Room and Golf lounge as cottages even though they were all connected.  I think there were four in all. I may be wrong as it has been a while. One of the rooms, I believe, had a fireplace.

Ann’s father and mother worked very hard keeping Scona Lodge on a pedestal across that river.  Scona was an enormous jewel that sat on top a crown of thorns.  It was the addition of warmth on a cold wilderness mountain in the back country of Tennessee and required a lot of hard work and dedication to not only achieve that accomplishment but, maintain Scona’s status as an exclusive resort second to none.

Look at this amazing flower garden.  It is the result of much care from Anne’s mother.  Later on a green house was constructed in the middle of the garden.

There was a Mulberry Tree on the 7th tee off at the summer house. I had my fill of these berries and the aftermath was interesting. This is where my Mom tried to tell me about the birds and bees one fall day when I was about 12. This is when I began to think I knew more than my Mom did about life.

 I do remember how beautiful it was to look out over the lake and at the mountains on the other side of the lake. Beautiful colors of the fall leaves; I remember my Mom commenting on how the mountains looked like a beautiful colorful quilt made for God. She was right about that.
Well, there was a couple of crab apple trees. Her roses were her passion and we must have had 50 to 100 rose bushes and many gardenia bushes. 

What a gorgeous retreat!  You won’t believe the ending to this story.

I remember the first time I saw the little creek when I visited the forest 8 years ago and how I simply jumped over the water.  There was a stone step on the other side that puzzled me as to why it existed.  If you look at my current photo below of the present day creek you will see bamboo growing beside the water.  That really got the wheels turning in the part of my mind that governs curious thinking.  Look closely at the picture and you can see the bamboo.  What a delightful, pretty little spot that foot bridge over the creek must have created!  Note the walkway leading away from the creek in my photo and compare it to the shot of the little wooden bridge of yesterday.  Note the curve in the walkway.  The creek I photographed in 2006 is the same creek the little bridge crossed.  The two large trees on either side of the bridge have long since fallen.  

There were two foot bridges -  the one close to the lodge that you have seen pictures of with the guests on and one closer to the lake. My Mother raised watercress at the second foot bridge for the fancy watercress tea sandwiches. Little food for thought...
Oh, there were two very large turtles that would hang out around the watercress. One was about the size of a large, round frying pan. I named him Buster and the other one Calvin. Don't ask me why I gave the critters names, I have no clue now.  Looking down the path one could see the sundial and flowers that surround this area.  This area was one of my favorite childhood places.

Above:  The same little creek the foot bridge spanned many years ago as seen today.
This bridge crossed the creek in  my current day "creek' shot above.  Notice how the sidewalk bends to the left in the shot directly above.    Notice the bend in the walkway in the "creek" shot above that I took.  It is the same bend.  It is the same creek as it looks today.

I always knew when someone was crossing the bridge and could see if it was one of my parents. That was the signal to get busy with my chores in the house or at least look busy.

Above:  Guests standing on the foot bridge for a picture

Entrance to the Lodge

Above:  Do you see the flower arrangement on the table? Those are Gardenia's from my Mom's garden. She would have these in some fashion in each of the guest rooms or bathrooms. She did a lot of extras for the Lodge.
I just wish I appreciated all that went on there with both my parents work more than I did.

Below:  the fabulous interior of the lodge.  Just simply colossal!

I lived at Scona from 1958 at 10 years of age until 1968 when I left for college. My parents managed the lodge. I still have pictures of the lodge. I remember each guest room and the native wood that paneled the rooms and the bathroom were all different colors. The stair case in the main lodge had an Indian maiden head at the landing. The floors in the recreation room areas were crab orchard slab, and the patio off the main lodge living room was native slate. The kitchen was wonderful. The dining room had a round table that would seat twelve or more.

Another building sat just below the Cherokee Room on the golf course.  It was made of slate, and ice cold spring water coursed through one side and out the other.  It is known as the Slate House or the Spring House.

It’s amazing that this old slate building is still standing.  The slate pieces are simply laid flat upon one and other and lack the benefit of the stones interlocking together to create strength.

The walls are leaning precariously and the roof has long been rotted away.  It is the only standing building that marks the legacy of Scona.  Soon, it too will join Scona and rest in the cupped hands of Mother Nature.  

It is so important to document the existence of  Scona, not only for her grandness and architecture but,  to record the efforts of  fine people who dedicated a large portion of their lives to her.  In return she created memories and experiences that will be carried through the rest of their lives, until there are no more of Scona’s caretakers left.   Then there will only be the written word.

The property also was equipped with a trap and skeet range where guests could choose their favorite shotgun from a collection of many.  The skeet and trap guns were Belgian made and of the highest quality.  I photographed these ranges and have elected not to post the pictures as the area is grown up in saplings and weeds.  There’s nothing there that can be identified as a shooting area.

A large trout pond was constructed adjacent to the trap and skeet ranges.  This was a beautiful body of water that was fed by a cold mountain stream at the rear of the pond.  The overflow or spillway emptied into the Little Tennessee River.  The pond is heavily silted now.

The trout pond as seen today.

Above is the overflow from the trout pond.  The pond is on the left separated from Chilhowee Lake on the right by the earth and rock dam.  There used to be a wooden foot bridge across the open span. 

Bill Millsaps dressing out a deer in the Hutchison’s basement


There are a few additional, prominent people to talk about who played an important roll in the upkeep of the Scona Lodge property.  One fellow is Bill Millsaps.

Bill helped my Dad with the upkeep of the property, boat motors, worked on the golf course and did a lot of the mowing, and helped my mom with a hundred rose bushes and was just an all round hard worker.  He lived in the first holler, in the third and last house down the road from the skeet range.  Mr. Millsaps had four kids, Lester and Pearl are the only names I remember now.

Anne refers to “the first holler.”  If one were to stand in front of Scona Lodge facing the river and look to the right he would see a boat launch and then the trout pond.  A service road ran along the trout pond and into the mountain through a hollow.  Now the road is nothing more than a wide path that I call a trace.  The skeet and trap ranges existed on the right side of that road.  Three houses sat across the road from the ranges, the third of which belonged to Bill Millsaps.  It is interesting to note that Mr. Millsaps also operated the ferry boat that brought guests across the Little Tennessee River. 
Bill had several children. Pearl was a couple of years older than me. We were in the same grade at the two room school in Calderwood. Pearl was a good example of what an Appalachian young girl would look like. Pretty, well developed, reddish hair, and could sing. Sort of a Dolly Parton kind of person, she had two other sisters and two brothers. 

Bill was a quiet man, hard worker,  and always took his family to a church in the Pleasant Valley area. I believe he was an honest man. He and Addie Gibson worked together frequently. The other family that lived in the cove were the Williams family. Mildred was their daughter my age.

Above:  Bill Millsaps house at Scona.

The picture of my dad's jeep in front of a house is Bill Millsaps house at the very end of the row of houses in the holler.. It had three bedrooms, kitchen, one bath, living room and a porch in the back. He had about 6 kids that lived there.  He was a hard working mountain man. The family went to church almost every week in Pleasant View.

Above:  Anne’s father (left) & Addie Gibson with wild boar.  The pigs liked the golf course.
Johnny Gibson, was sort of a golf pro or caddie, arranged the fishing trips, and picked up the guests at the air port, set up little poker games and even had the fighting cocks. Johnny had a set of twins Roy and Rosie close to my age, Bud was the older son, Bonita the older daughter. There was an Alice and she may have been his wife. Addie Gibson was Johnny's brother. He had a wife and two daughters. Addie’s function at the lodge was to work on the golf course and sometimes caddie, he also worked Bill Millsaps’s days off as the ferry boat person. 

Above:  A Scona Lodge Brochure #1

Above:  Scona Lodge brochure #2

It takes a team to manage any business concern and Scona Lodge was no different than any other business.  Everyone was able to help wherever needed in addition to their own assigned tasks.  The leadership, however, did not come from Corporate Alcoa only or Hugh McDade, Public Relations Chief.  The glue that held Scona together was applied by Leslie and Dorothy Hutchison, Addie Gibson, Bill Millsaps and others.   Their determination to make the success of Scona their personal challenges elevated the lodge into a delightful haven for the rich and even the famous.  Anne can comment on her parents duties at Scona much better than I.

My Dad took care of the golf course, lawn, bowling green, skeet range, and the property in general. He was sent to train with a golf course designer, Trent Jones, early on and that was his passion. He also was responsible for the men that worked on the golf course. There were four including Bill Millsaps who ran the ferryboat. He was responsible for all of the grounds and transportation vehicles which were two large station wagons to transport the guest from the airport. Johnny Gibson was the golf caddie and guide for fishing and skeet shooting.

Hutch, as Dad was called, also took care of any building problems with the lodge, ferry, boat motors, plumbing, and electrical. My father had constructed a golf course greens nursery of fairway grass and greens grass. The purpose was to keep the golf course in prime condition. The weather at times caused certain fungus and diseases of the grass and he would pull from the healthy nursery grass for replacement; not to mention the people playing a round of golf would dig up grass when teeing off. These had to be replaced as well. As you know prepping the greens in the morning, mowing, and all other care needed was his responsibility

My mother was in charge of the administrative duties and care of the lodge. She did all the payroll, schedules, transporting the help from Maryville to Scona. She was responsible for the purchase of supplies for the lodge including all food and beverage. This included some very costly items from caviar, fillet minion steaks, lobster, crab, deserts, liquor and wine. She was in charge of the menus for each party, table setting with place cards, flower arrangements, any special items for the guest. She and my father both were the welcoming party when guest arrived. Other duties were the furnishing that needed replacement in the individual rooms and common areas. Walk through prior to guest and after departure to make certain all was in five star condition. Any training of any new hired help was another duty. As you know the lodge was expected to be a graceful and well appointed place to visit. My mother, the first year, along with the recommendation of Mr. McDade, created massive flower gardens and eventually a green house was constructed for her plants and herbs. She grew all of the mushrooms used in cooking at the lodge along with fresh herbs. She did the work herself for the most part. This was her passion and respite.

At Scona, I met Billy Graham, Tennessee Governor Frank Clements, and many other well known people that were guests of Alcoa. I don't think I ever thought of the guests as being the "mucky - mucks", they were just people and always polite. Billy Graham gave a sermon to all the people that lived and worked at the lodge about having faith in a mustard seed and to always have that faith in God.

Many famous people visited Scona and enjoyed the Hutchison’s hospitality.  The Alcoa Company courted corporate heads of vast, powerful companies as well as foreign dignitaries and ambassadors of foreign countries.  They were all rich and powerful – famous or infamous and they all adored Scona Lodge – the hideaway at the base of a wild, forested mountain.

I met the Lennon Sisters from the Lawrence Welk show. They were guests for a weekend and I guess they were a big thing. I think I still have their autograph on a Scona golf napkin somewhere in my attic.

Estes Kefauver stayed at Scona on April 21 -23 in 1959.  My mother received an ashtray from him when he was a senator. He was from Madisonville, TN. He was a supporter of the New Deal program with TVA. I met the Senator when he was fishing off the ferry landing. I didn't want to tell him fishing there was not the best. I was pretty young. Same thing with Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House of Representatives,  who visited Scona.

Other visitors were the Prime Minister from Guinea, Fritz Close who was the marketing guru for Alcoa, and his parties, D. Harper and his wife who are the folks in the picture of the foot bridge, President of Schlitz and John Busch beer company, Coka Cola head marketing people, and the Lennon Sisters for whatever reason - probably to use in advertisement on television for Alcoa Aluminum. A lot of the Alcoa people from the Pittsburgh Corp. offices were at the lodge very often. Franklin Delano Roosevelt stayed also. Oh, and probably someone from the marketing of the aluminum Christmas Tree.   I know we had three sent to Scona and our home. My Dad made us put this tree up. I hated the tree and so did my brother John. I know my mother always received a guest list about two weeks in advance from the courier out of the Maryville's Alcoa office.

The list of dignitaries is too long to go into further detail here.  Scona became a popular retreat for the rich and famous.
There was a log cabin up another trail behind our house that was about a mile away that was not used any longer. I think there must have been a fire.  It had a big fireplace with a weathered moose head above the mantel. I think my dad said the guests once used the cabin for poker games and some serious drinking.

I was a kid that knew every nook and cranny of that property. Mostly because I didn't have a lot of people my age to associate with,  I had to find my own entertainment. The mountains, creeks, and lake were my magical escape. I was somewhat of a tomboy at that time but becoming a teenager changed all that. I can't believe that no one ever found that old cabin up on the mountain above our home.

You know, summer or winter I never had any fear of anything, creature or man, in those wonderful mountains. In the winter I would be allowed to go into the lodge and hang out, play the stereo with a wonderful record player. I can still smell the wonderful wood paneling, and lemon oil polish used in the main living room.

The Prime Minister of Guinea was entertained as a guest of Alcoa.  We had a lot to do with this party. My mom was a basket case to make sure we had all the appropriate food. She had to do a lot of work and travel to make sure these details were taken care of.  On top of this event she had a teenage daughter going through her own mood swings. I was a teenager who was coming of age with a defiant attitude.
We had special purchases of food that Mom had to order and travel to town to bring back to the lodge.  It was the policy of the lodge to supply the incidentals for the guests such as golf supplies (including clubs, balls, tees, carts, caddies, shirts, shoes, socks, etc.).  All the gear was top of the line.  The guests of the lodge really had nothing they really needed to bring with them.

Fishing tackle (every thing top of the line) -  Our inventory was state of the art.
Skeet and trap shot guns and rifles of their choice were available..
Silk PJ's, wine, cigars, cognac, classical music  (in that time with a stereo) – all were provided..
caviar, sea food, truffles, special flower arrangements, endless cigarettes, and Coka Cola were abundant. ( It is a wonder we didn't have a diabetic coma going on with the real, “real coke” beverage.)

Special linens on the beds.

Tons of special requests had to be fulfilled when a party was scheduled.
As with all guests, bedroom slippers were placed under the bed for their use and comfort.  Bed clothing such as terry robes were laid out on their beds.  Favorite cigars, cigarettes and liqueur were placed on the night stand or coffee table for them.

That’s my Pops. My gosh! Look at the picture - the lake and land. Talk about a tear jerker. Whew - flooding memories of the past. I will probably have to go into some sort of major therapy after this event. Scona is, or was such a beautiful place. It is like God said I want a place of respite and it will be Scona. I wonder if any of us will ever have this kind of existence, to feel or be a part of a place where such peace and perfection exists in our lives.
I have to close my eyes and feel the essences of Scona, and the innocence of this time and place, because it is gone forever.  What a waste  -  it is gone from being, and others denied its charm.

The ferry landing for the lodge is at the water line just to the left of picture.  The lodge sat at the base of the first mountain directly behind the shoreline.  Kudzu has covered the entire Scona Lodge site.  It is thickest exactly where Scona was located and branches out left and right from there.  It makes one wonder if it was purposely planted on top of Scona to guarantee her grave would remain untouched.  This is the only spot where kudzu is growing on this mountain.  That’s rather odd I’d say.

Anne and her best friend Penny filled a pickle jar with memorabilia – odds and ends – and hiked up that mountain on a now forgotten trail and buried it alongside an old stone bench that sat on a promontory where they could look down toward the golf course and Scona and admire the beauty of the lake.

A friend of mine, Penny, would visit me in the summer months and we hiked the mountains behind the lodge every day. We also made a time capsule out of a large pickle jar. We put kid stuff in the jar and buried it above the lodge. Wonder if it is still there? Looks like Mother Nature had taken the land back to the original state.

Anne was kind enough to jot down some memories in the form of stories.  I’ve included a couple in this piece.  One must remember that these are memories of a young teen girl.

AN UNEASY NIGHT - Just a child in the dark

Oh, there is an event I need to write down about when my parents were away for a weekend during the winter. I was home alone and the weather was really brutal. Around 10:30 pm I went over to the lodge just to make sure the water had not frozen. My father had left the water dripping in a couple of sinks to make sure the pipes didn't freeze. I had never been afraid of being alone at home except for this one time. I had a distinct feeling someone else was in the lodge. I had taken Blackie with me. She had the hair on her back up the whole time we were in the lodge. I remember turning on the lights down stairs and she headed for the kitchen door. I was really getting spooked and no way was I going upstairs. The screen door that led out to the patio from the music room slammed and I assumed it was the wind. When I went to check on the door the door was not locked and not closed completely but the screen door was locked. I couldn't figure that one out. Now I had to make the decision to leave in the dark and go back home crossing the property from the kitchen and going back over the bridge. I still had Blackie with me and she started barking non stop. I turned off the lights, got her calmed down, took one of the knives from the culinary drawer, and checked the water in the two sinks and locked up the kitchen door. Oh, how I hated going past the steps that led down to the basement of the lodge. That was the dark hole of no return as far as I was concerned. I got home in record time with my pup. Guess I had a weird experience or something, cause then I was spooked in my own house. We never locked our doors but that night everything was locked up. I even put a chair under the doorknob to the stairs in our kitchen where the steps to our basement was located. The weird thing that never made sense to me was the ferry was on the other side of the lake that night, all night. Someone was out late that lived up in the two coves. Most all of the men and boys could run the ferry. I chalked up the experience to one of the Gibson’s, either Johnny or Addie, may have been checking out the booze in the lodge. Or the mystery Haint was checking on me to make sure I was OK.

Anne told me many stories about Scona and her experiences there.  I chose the following recounted memory to include in the story of Scona Lodge because it is a particularly interesting description of Scona as seen through a young girl’s eyes.  No other eyes can ever again see what she is describing below:


Close your eyes for a moment and see this wonderful building through a 10 or 14 year old quiet child's eyes.

I was, and am a very visual and tactile person. In the mid-spring mornings when the dew was on the grass lawn in the front of our house looking out over the lake with the fog just lifting -  the sun already up and shining in all of its glory on a building that looked like a princess could have lived in. I would sometimes walk out to the sundial in the morning and sit on the step, smelling the sweetness of the air and grass. I could hear the workers on the ninth hole of golf course,  either mowing or raking out the sand traps. My glance was always to the main lodge, the perfect shingles on the roof, the big heavy wooden front door, the perfect patio and listening to the song of the water in the creek that divided our house and the lodge area. My little dog Blackie was always at my side, and she loved to have the inside of her ears rubbed, and her little belly scratched while I sat there taking in the glory of the day. These were the days when we were getting ready for a weekend party and I didn't have to go to school.

I would usually amble into the lodge kitchen to see what Angela was preparing for the guests. She was a wonderful African American woman with freckles over her light brown face. She had the warmest smile and was always laughing.

“Miss Ann, have you had your breakfast?  Do you want me to fix you something?”

“Miss Ann, do you want to have a cooking lesson and help me chop up some celery?”

 I dearly loved being in that kitchen. It was a large kitchen with two work tables, and a huge refrigerator. The counter tops were lined with mixers, coffee pot, carving area, and a large spice area. There was the service area adjacent to the kitchen with swinging doors that you had to go through. This is where Clarence and Bill worked. I guess you would call them the housemen or butlers. These to men worked really hard and were the kindest and most professional people I ever knew.  Both were African American men who had been with the lodge several years. Clarence taught me how to make a superb Mint Julep and to make funny little appetizers with caviar. I could never understand why anyone would want to eat the stuff cause it smelled fishy to me. Later when I realized what a tiny can of this stuff cost, I had a little more respect for the appetizer but still would not let a morsel touch my tongue.

This little kitchen was unique to me because above the counter tops the refrigerators were located like cabinets but they were refrigerators. They had one whole section with wine and also mixes for cocktails. When my friend Penny would come to visit and there were no parties scheduled, we loved sneaking into this kitchen area to score some of the maraschino cherries and the green olives. We had to make sure to cover our tracks so that my mother wouldn't notice.

One of my most fond memories is of the main lodge’s living room, the music room, and dining room. Bill Isome was in charge of this area. When you walked into the main living room, you could instantly smell the richness of the wooden panel walls and furniture. He is the person that taught me how to take care of wooden furniture. He uses some kind of furniture oil that he polished the side tables, coffee tables, lamps, and the mantle above the fire place. I believe he said the paneling was black walnut wood. The fire place hearth was really big, both Penny and I could lie side by side on the cushions on the hearth. Above the mantle was a large inlaid picture of the map of Tennessee. Each section of Tennessee (East TN, Middle TN, & West Tn.) had a different inlay of wood. Each section also had historical markers, some for the tribes of Indians that once lived there, rivers and lakes were indicated, state capital and other Tennessee history. Later on in years there was an event with a stone carved Indian Mace that was given to someone at Alcoa. This was a huge honor to be given this Indian token. With that event a painting was created by a friend of my parents. Brumitt Echo hawk was a well known Native American painter in Arizona commissioned to paint the story of the Mace being given to a man of power by a Native American official. That painting replaced the picture of the Tennessee map over the fireplace. The Map ended up in the Cherokee room.

In front of the fire place were my favorite two chairs, both in burgundy/red leather. I had never seen leather chairs before moving to Scona, let alone red in color. Sitting in the living room looking at all the art work, the beautiful designed drapes on the windows, the balcony above the living room and above the television which was set into the wall and looking out the picture window towards the lake is a scene that I can even today feel and remember with gratefulness.

There were two bedrooms on the first floor as you came out of the kitchen.  There was a hallway with two bedrooms -  one room paneled in popular and the other in cherry wood.  One had a black ceramic bathroom and the other had a deep burgundy ceramic bathroom.  By ceramic I am speaking of the sink, toilet, and tub. Each bathroom had anything a person would need to stay over night. I mean anything right down to a terry robe and silk pajamas. If a guest needed, or I should say, wanted something special, that item would be furnished prior to their arrival. This was sometimes a challenge for my Mom but she would always go the extra effort to make it happen.

As you would come into the main living room from the outside entry there was, under the stairwell, a lovely little room that was the telephone room.  It was a great place to hide as a kid and very cozy. You could close the door and day dream of adventure. The paneling always had the odor of cigar or pipe tobacco. For the longest time after I left the lodge I would catch the smell of a cigar I would have vivid memories of this little sweet room where I could close the door on the world.

The music room, as I named it, had a beautiful console stereo with two love seats, side table, a beautiful painting of hunting dogs, and large windows to have a panoramic view of the lake, Cherokee room, and golf course. This room opened up to the patio where the guests liked to sit, have a cocktail, and smoke.

Through my eyes, everything in the lodge was perfect and well made and fit for a princess.
This is just my view of one small portion of the beautiful piece of architecture that someone very professional and talented constructed for Alcoa's purpose of creating sales for their company.

Sadly, it breaks my heart to know this no longer exist .  It was a beautiful oasis in the East Tennessee Mountains.

The lodge prospered until Hugh McDade was replaced by Micky Thompson in the late seventies.  That was when Harold Lyninger was managing the lodge property.

Above:  A young Harold Lyninger

Harold is a very mechanical minded man.  He could fix or make any type of equipment that was required for any purpose.  He really could.  For instance, he was ordered by Mr. Thompson to install a sewage system at Scona.  He not only designed and built the system but installed it himself too.  The one thing that wasn’t left to him was the location for the new septic system.   Mr. Thompson ordered Harold to install it above the Slate House.  Remember, the Slate (Spring) House was the recipient of ice cold spring water that flowed at an enormous volume from out of the ground close to the Slate House.  The spring was ruined, of course, when the septic system was made operational.  Later Harold designed and built a “grinder” that would emulsify all the solid waste in the septic system.

A water tank was built upon the hill behind the trap and skeet range that would be filled from a pond that Alcoa built higher up on the mountain.  The water would be supplied to Scona Lodge and to the homes in the “hollers” via gravity delivered water from that tank.  Harold oversaw the tanks installation as well as plumbed the system himself.   Harold never understood why Alcoa didn’t just pump the needed water from the lake as it was a stones throw away.  Such is the way white collar folks think, I guess. 

Harold even rewired the entire lodge himself.  The wiring was over 40 years old and very outdated.  Some of it didn’t even have insulation. 

The old ferry boat constantly needed repairing.  Harold’s creativity kept it going. 

As a matter of fact Harold even made the sign with the mace that hung over the entrance to Scona.  He said he had to make several of them over the years as they would rot away continuously due to the influences of the damp forest and the lake.

Harold’s tenure at Scona Lodge ranged from 1977 to 1988 when he received his pink slip.  Scona’s destiny was already cast in stone as hard as the stone she was built with.

Anne’s parents moved on in 1968 so, the accounts from here on are obviously years later.
It seems that Micky Thompson wanted to change the way things were operating at Scona Lodge.  He changed the workings of the place enough that operational cost rose and Scona started to lose it’s appeal. The “charm” was lost.  A gentleman by the name of Mr. Paul O’Neal became CEO of Alcoa in 1987 and his reign lasted until 1999.  He immediately started to cut costs for the company as Alcoa’s tax liabilities amounted to five million dollars a year.  The lodge property paid a hefty tax in addition.  Scona Lodge was shut down in October of 1990 and sat dormant.  It never opened again.  (Paul O’Neal was the United States Secretary of The Treasury under George W. Bush after his employment at Alcoa.)   Scona sat dormant for years.  Mr. O’Neal had started negotiations with The Westinghouse Company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for Westinghouse to purchase Scona Lodge early on in his tenure as CEO.  That deal looked very promising.  However, and I’m not clear why, The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) entered into the picture in 1996 and condemned the Lodge property.

TVA’s reasoning for the condemnation was that if Calderwood Dam ever experienced a failure – Scona Lodge would be swept away and everyone on the property with it.  I can understand their concern.  Here’s what I can’t understand.  If that dam were to ever break – Scona Lodge would be as a fly spec in the disaster.  A wall of water from Calderwood Lake would roar down that narrow canyon adding onto and pushing all the water contained in the reservoir below, Chilhowee Lake,  against Chilhowee Dam, breaking it, and continuing on into Tellico Lake to raise those water levels dangerously high.  The breaking of Calderwood Dam would crush Scona in an eye blink but, that water would put a lot of other folks and property in jeopardy as well.  The results would be catastrophic.  There is no gate on any dam that can be raised at the last minute.  Reservoir gates take over a half hour to adjust.  It wouldn’t help a thing anyway.   My question then is – why was the danger to Scona Lodge the primary reason used to condemn only her?  Why weren’t other properties condemned or mentioned in the reasoning.  The town of Tallassee is just 3 miles downstream on Route 129.  It "could" be in danger, even though research indicates the water levels would not reach above the highway running along Chilhowee Lake.   Only Scona was condemned and cast away.  I think there is more to the issue of property condemnation than meets the eye.  The reasons for Scona’s demise probably went to the grave with the conspirators and the “real” reason will never be know.

The auction for Scona was held on May 10 and 11 in 1996 at the Deane Hill Country Club in Knoxville by the Furrow Auction Company.  Its good to note that all the Cherokee artifacts were returned to the Cherokee Nation at the Cherokee Indian Reservation located in Cherokee, North Carolina.

The requirement TVA issued to Alcoa was that Scona Lodge and everything on the property be bulldozed down and buried two feet below grade and the property converted back to its natural state.

I have sought the answers to the steps across the river for eight years now.  They are impressive to look at even now, all covered with vines.  The stones were cut and laid down beautifully and must have been admired by all who visited this wonderful place.

Above:  All that’s left of the Gibson house today.

The bulldozers arrived at Scona that dark day in May of 1996.  Scona awaited her fate at the hands of her executioners.  The heavy equipment operators halted in front of her gate and sat with mouths open and stared at the beauty they were sent to destroy.

 No more dancing trees, to bless this earth. No more dancing trees to bring me to my knees in the summer breeze, Oh how I loved my dancing trees. How I loved swaying to their music in the air, slow dancing with my lovely mountain trees. Dancing trees in the rain, dancing trees in early morning fog, dancing trees in evening mist rising off the lake. I loved to hear their whispers as they danced to and fro, each one has a special movement to give this earth peace. No more dancing trees to bring me to my knees in thankful prayer.

I feel like I knew Scona.  I’ve been talking to Anne and Harold and investigating as best I could.  There is nothing written about Scona Lodge to be found anywhere.  Its as if she were meant to be a secret and visited by only a select few.  She was hidden away at the base of that mountain far from easy accessibility.  Its as if she lived her life in secret, a beautiful maiden hidden away from all suitors who might steel her innocence.  Yet, I can envision what she looked like thanks to my two new friends.  I envy them for their experiences at Scona Lodge.  They both were part of the magical retreat that lay at the bottom of the rabbit hole that Alice fell into.
Scona wasn’t just a beautiful place.  She offered memories to all those who attended her.  Anne and her parents kept her heart beating.  Scona was very much a part of them and all the rest of the people who lived and worked there.  She was a major influence on their lives.  It was home.  Scona offered them a home and in return they respected and cared for Scona.  They kept her manicured and beautiful but, they couldn’t protect her. 

There is more to this story than meets the eye but, those secrets will remain buried with Scona.

The last stones were shoved into the crater by the bulldozers and the earth pushed over the top of Scona, burying her for eternity.  As Anne stated to me; “Its a shame that Scona couldn’t have remained for others to enjoy.”

And so – all that is left of Scona is a pair of steps and a patio, and soon they will be reclaimed by the forest.  A dense growth of kudzu now grows exactly on the spot where Scona stood – the only kudzu for miles and miles.  Yes, I know what you’re thinking and I also think it was planted over Scona to further camouflage any proof of her existence.     

Why was Scona so completely and perfectly destroyed?
Why was the concern of TVA so focused on Scona with little concern for other properties down stream of the dam?
Was there some reason for her demise other than concern for the dam's future integrity?
Why was the Kudzu planted on top of Scona and Scona alone?  It appears nowhere else on the mountain for miles and miles.
Could Jimmy Hoffa be buried in the basement of Scona Lodge? (Tongue in Cheek)

The answers to those questions have been lost with those who created and destroyed Scona and probably will never be answered.  Some questions in life are meant to go unanswered.  And, so it is with Scona.  

So, there is the story of Scona Lodge.  Its a dream that has come to an end before her beauty could be realized by many common people.  Its their loss – and mine.

I would like to thank Anne Hutchison for the story of her life at Scona Lodge and for the photographs of her family at Calderwood and Scona Lodge.  She and her parents lived at Scona Lodge from 1958 through 1968.   She was the little girl at Scona.  Above all I extend my thanks to her for trusting me with her personal memories and stories of her early life.

Harold Lyninger managed the lodge from 1977 through 1988.  I had the wonderful opportunity to meet this gracious man and talk to him about Scona Lodge.  The interview was delightful and informative.  Mr. Lyninger’s hospitality is second to none.  Now in his eighties, he is one of the last people alive who was intimate with the workings of Scona Lodge.  He is a most interesting man.

Paul Shaw is a co-worker and fine friend.  I met Mr. Lyninger through Paul.  They had been friends for years.   The fact that I have been desperate for information about Scona Lodge and Paul actually knowing the manager of Scona is quite a remarkable coincidence.  Paul has been a great help and resource in gathering information about the history of Scona, Calderwood and the people associated with Scona Lodge.  Paul used quite a bit of creative search analysis to find hidden details and pertinent information that pertained to the town of Calderwood, Calderwood Dam, Chilhowee Lake and Scona Lodge.  The Internet is an empty page when it comes to Scona Lodge.  There is nothing written about it-----until now.  Thank you Paul.

Thank you Alcoa Company for lending East Tennessee this special gift, if for only a little while.  Scona Lodge was the pride of the mountains and Chilhowee Lake while she sat upon her throne.  

To meet and find out more about Anne Hutchison and Harold Lyninger - click on the link.

I shall update this writing from time to time with additional facts as they become available.

I told you I would update this entry as information made itself available.  Above is Scona Lodge in her youth.  She was a gorgeous creation set at the base of a mountain across the Little Tennessee river.  "Some" Photos courtesy of Alcoa Aluminum Company of America.   Isn't she grand? - and hardly anyone knew of her existence.
I hope you found the article interesting.  Thanks for looking in.  I appreciate you.;postID=211517478389558677