In the 1960s, “Miss Kitty” Andrus, a former Mayfield grade school principal and whiz-bang of an investor, shared with me the secret of her fiduciary success.
“Clay pit stock,” she whispered. “Everyone said I was nuts to do it when I got in on the bottom floor, but I rode that elevator to the penthouse!”
The company whose stock she’d snapped up was from Graves County’s own Kentucky-Tennessee Clay Co. In 1927, K-T Clay started mining some of the country’s finest ball clay, shipping it for worldwide use until operations ceased at that site in 2003. During the following years, the abandoned 80-acre excavation pit filled with spring water the color of jade, and wildlife – deer, beaver, wild turkey and waterfowl – flourished in the surrounding woodlands.
When the lake and 600 acres were offered for sale in 2010, buddies Michael Harris, a partner in Mayfield-based Harris Auction Co., and Graves County farmer Scott Green took notice. After taking on more partners – Kenneth and Krystal Harris, Bryan and Miranda Wilson, and Sherry Elliott – Harris and Green purchased the entire tract, reserving 10 acres for a lodge site.
Thus was conceived the idea of a rural Graves County destination retreat that opened in April 2011.
All rustic elegance, the Lodge at Emerald Waters is an 11,000-s.f., waterfront log lodge. Already well used as a wedding site and bed-and-breakfast inn, the spacious setting is ideal for corporate retreats.
“It’s remote and quiet,” Harris said. “Facilitators have their attendees’
Built from local materials, the facility’s construction details are impressive.
Cypress logs with pine pillars are from the Baltimore Bottoms in Hickman County. Hand-laid stone from Russellville accents interior pine walls. A sitting-area mantle is made from elm from a mid-1800s barn on the Green family farm. The building contains no sheetrock.
Pryorsburg craftsman Aaron Willett hewed six of the lodge’s beds from local hedge apple wood. Interior floors are made of chocolaty Asian walnut.
Crowning the main floor’s cathedral ceiling is a seven-by-seven-foot chandelier made of deer and elk antlers. A catwalk with wrought iron railings overlooks a dining table that seats 16. The room’s focal point is the view of the surprisingly green lake, its seven-acre island, and acres of west Kentucky forest through a 35-foot wall of windows. An outside gazebo has the same magnificent vista.
Of the lodge’s eight themed bedrooms, four have private baths and four are shared. On the upper level are four King suites and a comfy sitting area. Two Queen rooms and a bunk room are on the lower level, along with a sports bar, pool table, pinball machine and of course, luscious lake views.
The Lodge at Emerald Waters can customize any kind of activities package to suit a group’s needs. Attendees have full run of the gated property and can hike, skeet shoot, hunt and/or fish to snag the lake’s stocked bass and catfish. Extra fees apply for guide services.
Dining/meal options include “bring your own, use the large kitchen’s commercial-grade appliances, and cook your own,” or speak with Harris about arranging one of a number of area caterers. A local favorite is Carr’s Steakhouse, which has served hand-cut steaks and open-pit hickory smoked barbecue in Mayfield since 1957.
Trevor Bonnstetter, CEO of West Kentucky and Tennessee Telecommunications Cooperative, used Carr’s to cater a two-day, early fall retreat at the lodge for its capacity of 25 to 30 attendees, who raved about the food and the facility.
“Because of the rural setting, we were able to accomplish things we would not have been able to in a metropolitan hotel situation,” said Bonnstetter.
To broaden the scope of a corporate retreat, Dr. Tim Todd, dean of the College of Business at Murray State University, can present team-building seminars, arrange use of a low ropes course nearby, and provide faculty speakers on a wide range of topics. Contact him at (270) 809-4181 or [email protected].
Check out photos and rates at EmeraldWaterLodge.com. For reservations, contact Michael Harris at (270) 247-3253 or [email protected].