Steeped In Smoky Mountain History
The original Ogle cabin, constructed from squared timbers, cement chinking, and native stone forms the core of the present restaurant, and its rustic and weathered exterior logs are still visible in portions of the building interior. The original facade of the home is inside the front dining room, as evidenced by an attractive Crab Orchard stone chimney. This chimney has a large round millstone set in its center. This dining room was constructed over, and raised above, a rock patio that once adorned the front of the home. Stone steps originally lead down to a small patio at river level – a kind of trout angler’s porch. The bar, which is cantilevered over the river, was completed in 1993.
The paneling within the restaurant foyer or lobby is pecky cypress, a handsome, rustic wood, indigenous to swampy areas of the Southeastern United States. It is said that, “a coffin made from bald cypress will last a lifetime.” Pockets and cavities that have been naturally created in the living cypress wood by the action of a fungus produces the unusual character marks in the kiln dried boards.Varieties of other woods including oak, maple, tulip poplar, pine, and sycamore along with native rock were used in construction of the original cabin as well as in the renovation.
The mural above the host desk in the lobby was painted by Knoxville artist Ann Lorimer in 2006 to introduce the guest to the river that runs behind The Peddler. Notice the Kingfisher on the rock in the river and other wildlife native to this area.
THE STAINED GLASS
The beveled glass and stained glass of dogwood blooms in the front doors and entrance foyer were designed and installed by local glass artist Chuck Ottolini when the restaurant was remodeled in 1988.The stream with a brook trout over the salad bar was designed and installed by local stained glass artist Bill May in 2006. He also designed and installed the stained glass in the bar during its renovation.
The large circular stone set in the chimney in the front dining room is a millstone once used to grind corn into meal and wheat into flour. This stone would have had a companion stone above or below it turned by the power of a water wheel. Earl Ogle collected old millstones and several were once located about the property. Two small millstones were incorporated into the Peddler sign in front of the building.
The view of the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River is spectacular from the back dining room, the bar, and from a streamside, covered pavilion off the side parking lot. That pavilion was once an enclosed playhouse, constructed for the Ogle’s daughter. Arising in the high Smokies, the Little Pigeon River flows northwestward almost 30 miles to its confluence with the French Broad River. The French Broad flows into the Tennessee River just east of Knoxville. Trout thrive in this pristine, cold mountain stream, while mallards and other waterfowl are often seen maneuvering its swift currents. In addition, don’t be surprised if you see a bear or two rambling along the stream, especially in the early evening from summer through late autumn. The stream is named for the now extinct Passenger Pigeon, a bird that once flourished here. It vanished from Tennessee in 1893 as a result of over hunting.
THE PEDDLER TREE
The large tree that graces the front parking area of the restaurant is practically a living fossil. This Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), a relative of the giant California Redwood, was once one of the most common trees on earth. It evolved during the Tertiary period (starting about 65 million years ago) and was thought to have become extinct during the last ice age (around 10,000 years ago). Only fossils of the species were known until 1946, when seven of these trees were discovered in a remote village in Northwest China. Those gargantuan specimens stood about 150 feet tall and were up to seven feet in diameter! Under ideal conditions, dawn redwoods can grow from four to six feet per year for the first three or four years; after a decade, the annual growth slows to about two feet per year. According to Beth Ogle, a family friend brought six of these plants back from a visit to Washington State in the late 1950s. He gave one to her and she planted it in her front yard, right over a small spring. That original two foot high sapling has grown to become an 80-foot-high Peddler trademark.