Tuesday, 6/7/11 - We were heading east on I-40 to Lebanon, TN a little town 30 minutes outside Nashville (remember, Nashville is SOLD OUT.) We saw cheap gas, $3.49 at exit 143 and decided to fill up the RV. While doing so, we noticed that this was also the exit for the Loretta Lynn Ranch so I called the number for Loretta's RV park and low and behold they had room and better yet....were a Passport America park. So we made a quick decision to "blow off" Lebanon tonight & stay here. A really good decision.
After topping off the RV tank for $100.26 we drove the 7 miles to Loretta's ranch located in Hurricane Mills, TN. www.lorettalynn.com Now it was about 2:30 pm and the museum and the tour of the house's close at 5:00 pm so we took off immediately to see if we could get in.
Loretta owns the entire town of Hurricane Mills and Will thought he heard she owned 3,600 acres. The place consists of a Western Town which has a real Post Office, Grist Mill Shop (say what?) many gift stores, a replica of her Butcher Holler House that she grew up in; a coal mine, like her Daddy worked in; a museum that has pictures of every country star, awards, memorabilia, every stage outfit she probably ever wore and a film that plays showing when she was on the Grand Old Oprey & other concerts. The tour bus she used is here in the museum and you can board it.............well the whole thing was amazing.
We of course wandered through the museum and had the entire place to ourselves. It was a great museum filled with so much to look at. As we were leaving we asked about the tour of her home & the Butcher Holler House and they said the last tour was at 4 pm and it was 3:40 pm at that moment. We hurried over to the Western Store where they sell the tickets for the tour & just made it.
The first stop was the Butcher Holler House which was an exact replica of the house she grew up in
at Van Lear, Kentucky. Newspapers and Sears catalogue pages covered the walls and ceilings. Two bedrooms upstairs (which they do NOT show) were the kids rooms, the parents were downstairs with a living room & kitchen. Outside was the outhouse.
We then boarded a bus and they took us to the house that Loretta and husband Mooney, raised their 8 kids (he married her when she was 13 yrs old.) A great big old house from the 1800's that was beautiful. We toured the ground floor only, which included the big old kitchen Loretta use to film her Crisco Oil commercials in. We also saw their bedroom, dining room, living room and all the wonderful furniture, pictures of the family and the incredible collections Loretta has of everything. I don't think the lady ever threw anything away.
Loretta lived in this house until Mooney died of diabetics some years back. There was a guest house right next door and she moved into it and added several bedrooms and then opened her home with all the furnishings to her fans and the public. She lives in that guest house today and the tour guide said she was probably home as there were vehicles next door. Behind the house that we toured, is Mooney's office, just as it was when he died, a recording studio and a barn. This house was also used for many shots of the movie, Coal Miners Daughter. Will and I are going to get a copy of the movie the next time we hit a WalMart and watch it again.
We also learned that Loretta still tours and does concerts, last year she did 60 of them. Her twin daughters, Patsy (named after Patsy Cline, they were great friends) and Peggy open for her on her shows. Her son tours with them as a manager. Actually, Loretta will be doing a concert at the ranch September of this year. Her daughter Cissie has gift, grocery store & restaurant across the street from the office on the Ranch, her daughter, Betty Sue has a flee market and another RV park somewhere down the road on the Ranch. To say this is a family operation, is an understatement.
Well for a surprise stop, it turned out amazing. Our campsite is terrific for $20, the Loretta stuff was wonderful and Will "sprung" for dinner back at exit 143 where there just happens to be a Loretta Lynn Buffet.....all you can eat for $10 and boy was it good! Tomorrow, back on track to Lebanon, TN.....a full tank of gas, a full belly and lots of good memories of Loretta. Much love to all family and friends.