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Loretta Lynn's Other Story

Tennessee Valley Stories
By John N. Felsher

When people think Tennessee one of the first things that may come to mind is country music. With Tennessee being the "country music capital of the world" it is no surprise that many stars have made Tennessee their place to live. The best example may be the legendary Loretta Lynn. She bought 3500 acres in Hurricane Mills, TN back in 1966 which would eventually become "Loretta Lynns Ranch". And while most stars live in privacy, Loretta Lynn offers her ranch out to the public, and has become a hotspot for camping, horse trails, and many other events!

Loretta Lynn's Campground, Horse Trail, Event Site – John Felsher

Loretta Lynn’s Other Story

Music Superstar Invites the Public To Enjoy Her Ranch
By John N. Felsher

Many people call their hometown “my town,” but few can produce a deed to prove it. Country music superstar Loretta Lynn liked Hurricane Mills, Tenn. so much, she bought it.

“In 1966, Loretta and Mooney, (Loretta’s deceased husband Doolittle “Mooney” Lynn) stumbled upon this little town while looking for another piece of property and found the big house on the hill,” related Anthony Brutto, the general manager of Loretta Lynn’s Ranch and her grandson. “It was kind of dilapidated, but Loretta fell in love with it. Once they found out who owned the home, they also found out that that person also owned the town of Hurricane Mills. The only way the Lynns could buy the house was to purchase everything so they bought the whole town.”

The little hamlet sits within Loretta Lynn’s Ranch, a 3,500-acre mostly wooded estate in Humphreys County. Most of the town populated by a couple hundred people sits in the Hurricane Mills Rural Historic District, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The village centers around an old grist mill on Hurricane Creek.

Every country music fan knows the incredible rags-to-riches story of Loretta Lynn’s rise from a poverty-stricken childhood in Kentucky to a musical legend. The movie Coal Miner’s Daughter and Lynn’s eponymous hit song tell that story. With homage to another legend, Paul Harvey, here’s “the rest of the story.”

“Most people don’t open their land up to the general public like we do, but Loretta invites people to come onto her property,” Brutto said. “The ranch is a great place to come with family and get away.”

Visitors can tour the mansion where she and Mooney lived from the late 1960s until 1988. They can see how the couple lived, view family photos and many other personal items. Just across Hurricane Creek, people can tour an exact replica of the cabin where she grew up in Butcher Hollow, Ky. The cabin was used as a set in the movie. People can also stroll through the museum dedicated to Loretta’s career and see many of the outfits the star wore, items used in the movie, awards and other exhibits. People can also see a simulated coal mine.

As TV pitchmen might say, “But that’s not all!” Most major stars live in exclusive guarded communities with no public access. Not Miss Loretta. The star currently lives in a smaller private residence behind the mansion. I couldn’t believe that I could spend a couple nights in one of 18 quaint cabins just a few hundred yards from her home.

“Whenever I describe the ranch to people, I say it’s a three-part business,” Brutto explained. “We are an event center, tourist attraction and campground, all based around Loretta Lynn. We have one of the largest campgrounds in Middle Tennessee with 300 powered campsites for recreational vehicles of all sizes. One of my main focuses is giving people experiences they may never have had and offer them many things to enjoy in this little slice of nature. People can hike on trails or fish in the creek. We have horseback riding, jeep events, motorcycle events and many other activities.”

Although the legendary singer doesn’t get out as much anymore, she might show up anywhere at any time. After all, she still owns the place! Sometimes, one of her family members drives her around the property. On any day, visitors would almost certainly meet some of her family.

“She comes out occasionally,” Brutto remarked. “She’s still a spitfire and still as opinionated as ever. It’s been really nice getting to help maintain the property and continue the legacy she’s built for us as a family and for her fans and guests.”

For more information, see her website. Be sure to check the event schedule.