Rattlesnake Lodge
A Brief History and Guidebook
Preface | Introduction | The Lodge | Ambler Family
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TOOL SHED This 1994 photo shows the lower remains of the hand hewn log tool shed in front of the spring house.  The shed was at ground level with the existing path.  Electricity for the lodge came from a water-driven generator, which was located in the bottom of this shed.  The cement pedestal for the generator can still be seen, with several bolts showing where the generator was mounted.  A pipe from the reservoir still protrudes towards this stand.

Dr. Ambler's "Time Book" covering the years 1909 to 1911 was saved.  The going wage in the early part of the century was 10 cents per hour, difficult to relate to, unless you realize that a cow cost $10, or two weeks of labor.  Many names in the book are relatives of people still living near Ox Creek and over the gap in Shope Creek and Bull Creek.  Dennis Ballard, D.C. Clark, Will Rice, Coil and Merit Fox, Dave and Lonnie Mundy, and G.W. Shope are a few of the names frequently in the book.

SNAKE SKIN CEILING  During the first three years, it has been written that 41 rattlesnakes were killed on the property.  It was understood throughout the area that Dr. Ambler would pay $5 for any rattler brought to him.  As $5 in those days was about equivalent to week's wages, many rattlers undoubtedly came from very far away!  The ceiling shown above was in the living room.

SLED On many occasions, a sled was used to haul supplies from Bull Gap.  The sled, shown here with Barbara, was also constantly used as a working sled around the lodge site, hauling stones for building, or fruits and vegetables from the fields and orchards.

The trail/road from Bull Gap to the lodge was built to be four feet wide, not suitable for the horse and carriages of that day.  This was done on purpose,  in order to maintain as much privacy as possible, and to permit the place to have a feeling of remoteness.  Since there was a good public road over Bull Gap, a carriage house was built at the gap, beside the road.  Today, only the rock remains can be seen.  (The bricks and metal there appear to be "recent" trash.) This carriage house stored the carriages from Asheville, and then the family or
visitors walked to the lodge, or transferred to horses or to a specially built, narrow axle carriage.  The brave rode the sled.

RESERVOIR  The main reservoir (worth a trip!) is .2 miles up a  side trail which starts behind the remains of the caretaker's cabins. The above photograph was taken in 1994.  The reservoir, obviously roofed over for protection from the local wildlife, received water from two sources.  One was from a spring at the site, which can be seen just above the reservoir, through a built-up, coverless manhole.

A trail leads south from the reservoir on up the mountain to the other source, a spring on the Mountain-to Sea trail.  The whole side trail from the generator at the lodge to the reservoir and the spring on the Mountain-to-Sea is on top of the ditch dug for the water pipe.  A piece of terra cotta pipe can still be seen in the middle of the trail, just beyond a rocky area shortly before reaching the upper spring.

Another reservoir, and probably the only other one, was just a small hole in the ground, below the tennis court.  It can still be located today.  The reservoir fed an outside washing area, shown here with kids washing their hair.  The overflow from this went underground to the swimming hole.  There is supposed to be a total of seven springs on the property.

The Amblers entertained many guests, and the guest register, which is still in existence, dates from 1908 to 1920.  It shows most of the visitors being at the lodge during the summer, but it is also apparent that Dr. & Mrs. Ambler came to the lodge many times during the other months.  The above photo of Mrs. Ambler's bridge club is interesting, as one wonders how they traveled to the lodge!

THE DEN This area below the lodge site can be easily reached by leaving the yard to the south (left, facing away from the mountain), over a large, flat boulder.  Although in the various writings it was sometimes referred to as the "schoolroom," it was more than likely a quiet place to which the adults could retreat.

The picture above is from a folded post card.  It shows the addition made to the lodge to the east, as well as the "lawn," with the retaining walls in place. All rock walls were dry constructed, except for the pool.  Fences were built at the top of all retaining walls and steep banks for the protection of the children.  Areas near the lodge were kept cleared of brush in order to be certain that any snakes could be easily seen.  The triangular form to the right, between the two trees, is a swing for the kids.  The elevation is erroneously stated as 4,400 ft. on the card  In other sources it appears as 4,200 and other figures.  The actual altitude is close to 3,700 feet.  (Some of the articles written while the lodge was in existence tended to exaggerate.  "The hillsides were so steep that once a cow fell out of the pasture and broke its neck.") 

CARETAKER'S CABINS These cabins were next to the spring house and were made with hand hewn logs.  The caretaker and his family lived on the property year around, and cared for the livestock during the winter.  The larger three room cabin was built first and then the smaller one added when his family grew.  Only the chimney stones remain today. 

POTATO HOUSE This small storage "house" was located about 50 yards south of the spring house.  The rock entrance to the "bank house," as it's normally called, can still be seen, although it is somewhat fallen down.  Shelves were on each side for storing vegetables, fruits and other goods.  Two corn cribs were opposite the potato house at the edge of the retaining wall. 

HORSE BARN Nothing remains of the stables which housed the horses, except the long rock retaining wall for the area where it once stood.  The log structure was just beyond the potato house and was located at the edge of the wide trail, with access from the bank side.  A pipe for water to the area can still be seen above the trail on the bank.  This pipe probably came from a small spring just east of the stable, where today a fairly strong stream crosses the Mountain-to-Sea trail.  A pig lot used to be located "in" this stream.

THE SHACK About .2 miles south, up the Mountain-to-Sea trail, is the location of what was referred to as "The Shack."  Only the remains of the fallen rock chimney can be seen.  A simple board cabin, with bunk beds and a fireplace, it was built for the lodge construction workers.  Later it became a guest cabin, available gratis to anyone hiking or riding through on the way to Craggy and Mt. Mitchell.  A good trail leads from here down the mountain to the Parkway at the Tanbark tunnel.  This trail could complete a pleasant round trip hike from the tunnel. 

COW BARN About .1 miles north of the lodge on the Mountain-to-Sea Trail is what remains of the cow barn.  Much of the rock foundation is still in existence.  The cows entered from the side below the trail.  Above the cow stalls, and level with the existing trail, was a loft for hay storage.  Much of the barbed-wire fencing for the pastures can still be seen beside the trail down to Bull Gap. 

SPRING HOUSE This recent photograph shows the remains of the spring house, with the fallen tree.  The tree is wonderful place for kids to climb and adults to sit, and it adds to the charm of the whole area.  The spring in the rear supplied running water through the bottom of the once fully enclosed house to keep it cool for the milk and other goods stored there.

SWIMMING POOL This picture was taken before the retaining wall was completed around the yard.  The decorative fencing was made with mountain laurel and rhododendron.  The pool was only a few of feet deep, for safety, and being fed by a mountain spring, was quite cold.  The water was furnished by an underground aqueduct from a bank behind the pool, towards the tennis court.  A fenced-in vegetable garden can be seen in the top right of the picture.

Preface | Introduction | The Lodge | Ambler Family
  Maps | The Area | Newspaper Clippings | Home

© Copyright 1994 and 2000 by A. Chase Ambler, Jr.
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