Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Dining With a Ghost

A favorite routine during our occasional weekends in the Gatlinburg, TN, vicinity is dinner at the Greenbrier Restaurant. Situated on a small mountain slope on an obscure, winding lane off Highway 321, it’s a woodsy, warm haven—especially in autumn and winter—and the cuisine (most notably trout and prime rib) is outstanding. Not until our latest visit in November did we hear that the restaurant has a special, perpetual guest of honor: Lydia the ghost.

The log cabin was built as a lodge in 1939. During its early years, according to legend, a resident named Lydia returned to the lodge in suicidal despair after being stood up at church on her wedding day. She reportedly hung herself from a rafter above the second-story landing. When the mangled body of her unfaithful betrothed, apparently killed by a cougar, was found in the mountains a few days later, Lydia’s legend took form in the minds of locals. After she’d hung herself, they decided, her vengeful spirit had assumed animal form and tracked down the hapless young man.

That part of the story may seem construed, but the Greenbrier staff vows that Lydia’s ghost frequently is seen on the landing by employees and diners. They report a “small, sad figure wandering around.” Some witnesses haven’t actually seen anything but swear they’ve felt Lydia’s chilling ambience.

More details of the story are at the Web site—but I strongly recommend you investigate in person, if you’re ever in Gatlinburg. If you’re disappointed by the nonappearance of Lydia, you’re hardly likely to be disappointed by the table fare.


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