History

Lake's End has been a fixture of the Nantahala community since the late 50's, when Sam Passmore started his little outpost on the shores of Lake Nantahala, elevation 3,012' above sea level. Back then, it was called Sam's Boats & Cabins. The lake had been formed a few years earlier when the Federal Government installed a dam on the upper Nantahala River, forcing the relocation of the old town of Aquone, which was located on a site that is now more than 100' underwater. Today, the lake feeds the Lower Nantahala River, world famous for its wonderful white water rafting and kayaking, and the lake is considered one of the most pristine and pure lakes in the entire Southeast.

In the late 60's, the late Lawrence Griffing (Griff) and his wife, Ruth, along with their children, Jane and Lynnie, took the reins, added the Diner/Store and created a wonderful spot for campers and fishermen who visited the lake and used the Diner and Campground as headquarters during their stay at the lake. During one of the first inventories of the Store merchandise was counted $43 worth of Vienna sausages, baked pies, Coke, milk, etc, and one gum ball machine. Griff was a retired Air Force Belly Gunner on a B-17 in WW11 and he ran a tight ship. Actually, Ruth ran the ship and Griff just thought he did, but Griff did invent the Griff Burger, still served today at the original bar, on the original stools and cooked on the original griddle.

During the early 70's, Lake Nantahala was the official training ground for the Army Green Beret and Special Forces. They set up camp at Appletree Campground, just down the road, and a communications headquarters on top of Wayah Bald, the highest point in the area at 5,400' above sea level. Most days, the Soldiers flew to the Diner in Chinook and Huey helicopters for lunch. They landed in the grass right next to the Diner, which provided much excitement for the local kids and fellow diners. Many of the Soldiers passed out MRE's, Army issue can openers, fatigue patches and other things the kids loved to get their hands on. In the early morning hours, the Soldiers could be seen out on the lake practicing "Scout Swimming," which is a method of swimming that leaves only the head above water and leaves no wake, and in the afternoons, the fighters and bombers would dive bomb the dam, which was their target for practice strafing and bombing runs.

In the 90's, the lake was purchased from Nantahala Power & Light by Duke Power, an environmentally sensitive power company that still owns and manages the lake today. Through their efforts and the care of the residents and surrounding community citizens, the lake is as pristine today as it was when it was first formed.

Also in the 90's, the Diner once again became the chow hall of choice for another government operation. The state and federal agencies involved in the Eric Rudolph manhunt set up camp at Appletree Campground, just as the Green Beret had done decades earlier, and, also like the Green Beret, came to the Diner nearly every day for some great food and comaradery. To poke some friendly fun at the Feds, the marquis outside of the Diner displayed a sign that said "Eric Rudolph eats here," and we had bumper stickers for sale that said "Eric Rudolph 1, Feds 0." Well, eventually, the authorities did catch Eric Rudolph, but not with heat-seeking, night-vision-equipped aircraft, but by the luck of a Murphy Police Officer that happened upon Rudolph three years and many millions of dollars after the search began.

In 2006, the Diner was purchased by some investors, one of which was one of the lucky kids that received free MRE's from the Green Beret Soldiers and got to watch them fly in for lunch back in the 70's. He even got the fatigues from one of President Nixon's bodyguards, although they didn't fit then and they don't fit now.

After an exhaustive regulatory process, the partners were permitted to install at the Diner the only commercial marina on the lake, including a new, state of the art fuel dispensing system. Additionally, a small "Ship Store" was added to provide essentials for boaters and fishermen who come to the Diner by boat. The Marina now offers wet slips in season, dry slips out of season, rental boats and water-sports equipment of all types, fuel and boating sundries.

We hope you enjoy your visit to our little piece of Appalachian Americana.

Sincerely,
The Staff, Management and Owners of Lakes End Diner & Marina