Harry and Eleanor Smythe purchased land on Buck Lake in the 1940s and built their dream — a country music center where people from northeastern Indiana and beyond could gather for nationally acclaimed shows. But then the Smythes hit a snag. For the first 12 Sundays bands were booked, rain poured from the sky. It soaked the stage. It chased away crowds. The Smythes almost packed up and closed down. The 13th Sunday the sun came out and so did a lot of people. From there, the Smythes ran a Steuben County hot spot for 25 years.
Hank Williams played at BLR several times throughout his short career.
July 1954 Marty Robbins gave Buck Lake Ranch a great show. Robbins' output largely known in country music, his initial hits like "Singing the Blues", "Knee Deep in the Blues", "The Story of My Life", "She Was Only Seventeen", and "A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation" were generally regarded as more pop/teen idol material than his hits from 1960 onwards ("El Paso" etc.). His 1957 recording of "A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation" sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold record. His musical accomplishments include the Grammy Award for his 1959 hit and signature song "El Paso", taken from his album Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs. "El Paso" was the first song to hit No. 1 on the pop chart in the 1960s. It was followed up, successfully, by "Don't Worry" American singer, songwriter, actor, multi-instrumentalist, and NASCAR racing driver, and was one of the most popular and successful country and western singers for most of his nearly four-decade career, Robbins often topped the country music charts, and several of his songs also had crossover success as pop hits.
Buddy Holly & The Crickets
Buddy Holly and the Crickets perform at Buck Lake Ranch on July 4, 1958.
American actor, singer, and former teen idol. Avalon had 31 charted U.S. Billboard singles from 1958 to late 1962, including the number one hits "Venus" and "Why" in 1959. Frankie Avalon took the Buck Lake stage on the same day as Buddy Holly and the Crickets on July 4, 1958.
An American musician and first wife of Hank Williams. She recorded several duets with her husband, like "Lost On The River", "I Heard My Mother Praying For Me", "Dear Brother", and many others. After Hank Williams death, She continued performing on her own and as well as alongside her son, Hank Jr. They appeared at Buck Lake Ranch in the 1960s.
Brenda Lee is an American singer. Performing rockabilly, pop and country music. She had 47 US chart hits during the 1960s, and is ranked fourth in that decade, surpassed only by Elivs Presley, the Beatles and Ray Charles. She graced the Buck Lake Ranch stage in the 1960's.
Chuck Berry was seen on stage a number of times between 1960 & 1990.
Hank Williams Jr.
Hank Williams Junior followed in his father's footsteps, playing at BLR a number of times throughout the 1960's.
Robert Thomas Velline, known as Bobby Vee, was an American singer, songwriter and musician who was a teen idol in the early 1960s appearing at BLR and in films. He had six gold singles over the course of his career.
Closed the season 1962 Labor Day. American pop singer, former actress, and top-charting female vocalist of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Although her chart success waned in the second half of the 1960s, Francis remained a top concert draw.
Maybelle Carter and the Carter Sisters
Mother” Maybelle Carter performed music with daughters June, Anita and Helen — the Carter Sister's at Buck Lake Ranch in 1962. Mama Maybelle was known for her innovative guitar technique which was known as the “Carter Scratch,” in which she played the lead and rhythm parts simultaneously. The Legend says that Harry Smythe jumped on stage and grabbed the microphone away from the Carter Family to stop a very young Bill Anderson who was on stage to sing his then number one song "Mama Sang A Song" with Mama Maybelle and the Carter Sisters. Harry says "Get off the Stage, boy! My hamburgers are getting cold". Come to find out the song was running long and Harry liked to run a tight ship and stay on schedule. He was worried the song would run too long and the second act would be delayed. Fortunately the audience was on the groups side and together The Carter Family and Anderson managed to smooth it over and finish the song. American country musician and originator of the ”Carter scratch.” She is best known as a member of the Original Carter Family act in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s and also as a member of the Carter Sisters and Mother Maybell.
Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
Bill Monroe played a show at Buck Lake Ranch on June 30, 1963 alongside Justin Tubb and Jimmy Newman.
Nicknamed The Tall Texan, Billy was an American country music singer and guitarist best known for his 1962 hit , "Charlie's Shoes". Billy Walker and Stonewall Jackson played Buck Lake Ranch on June 23, 1963.
Many Buck Lake Ranch fans said that the Greatest Show in 17 years was when Frank Fontaine "Crazy Guggenheim" and George Jones played 3 shows Sunday Aug 25, 1963. Fontaine's, known for his work on The Jackie Gleason Show, played the always-inebriated character "Crazy Guggenheim" and brought his skit to the Buck Lake Ranch stage. His trademark bug-eyed grin and silly laugh was a crowd favorite. The big surprise was at the end of his show when he would sing a song demonstrating his strong baritone voice. George Jones, Grand Ole Opry member known as the Crown Prince of Country Music also known as "No Show Jones" also played that day. George Glenn Jones was an American musician, singer and songwriter. He achieved international fame for his long list of hit records, including his best-known song "He Stopped Loving Her Today", as well as his distinctive voice and phrasing".
"Here's a fun story from Bill Anderson.... the best of the mix-up stories came when the late Grandpa Jones was supposed to perform one Sunday afternoon at an outdoor park called Buck Lake Ranch near Fort Wayne, Indiana. By mistake, Grandpa ended up in Terre Haute, Indiana. The two towns are at least a couple of hundred miles apart. When he couldn’t locate Buck Lake Ranch in Terre Haute, he began to ask directions. He finally ran into a man who knew about Buck Lake Ranch. “That’s up near Fort Wayne,” he told Grandpa. “And where am I?” Grandpa asked. The man replied, “You’re in Terre Haute.” “Wail,” Grandpa whined in his patented nasal tone, “I knew it had two words in it. It’s a wonder I didn’t go to Buenos Aires!”
Charlier Louvin appeared at BLR on July 26, 1964.
Faron Young & The Country Deputies
Faron Young & The Country Deputies performed at BLR on July 26, 1964.
An American country singer, known as Johnny Sea or Johnny Seay. His career saw a resurgence in the mid-1960s with the release of "Day For Decision" and graced the Buck Lake Ranch stage in 1964.
The Lennon Sisters were undoubtedly one of the most popular acts to ever play Buck Lake Ranch. They were at the height of their career when they came to the Ranch twice in 1959 and 1960. The legend goes that they drove up from Ft Wayne and had to stop three miles or so from the park entrance because the two lane Road was jammed with traffic. Their father and also manager at the time was worried they would miss their soundcheck until he spotted a police officer. He explained they were trying to get to the park and the officer says “well so is everyone else, mister”. He continues by saying “Don’t you know the Lennon Sisters are playing there tonight?” “Better get back in your car and take your turn like everybody else”. The father then told the officer “yes and they are in the car.” The police officer laughed and then gave them a police escort to the park. There was no orchestra for the performance so they rehearsed a bit with organist Florence Webb and then decided to do the show acapella. It was estimated approximately 30,000 came to the Ranch that day. The Lennon Sisters are an American vocal group initially made up of four sisters from a family that had six sisters in all, as well as five brothers. The original quartet consisted of: Dianne, Peggy, Kathy, and Janet. All 11 Lennon children were born in Los Angeles, California.
Leroy Van Dyke
American country music singer and guitarist Leroy Van Dyke played BLR on May 31, 1964.
Skeeter Davis performed at BLR on August 9, 1964.
Earl Scruggs appeared at BLR on July 31, 1964.
Frank Fontaine played BLR on July 18, 1965.
American country music singer and songwriter famous for his humorous novelty songs, his small size (4'11" [150 cm]), and his rhinestone-studded outfits. Jimmy performed at BLR multiple times, most-notably on July 18, 1965.
Porter Wagoner & The Wagon Masters
Porter Wagoner & The Wagon Masters performed at BLR on August 14, 1966.
Ray Price & The Cherokee Cowboys
Ray Price & The Cherokee Cowboys performed BLR on August 28, 1966.
Tex Ritter performed BLR on August 14, 1966.
Buck Owens And The Buckaroos
So the legend says... once when Buck Owens was to appear at Buck Lake Ranch in the late 1960’s, his band came in by bus and, for whatever reason, Buck flew in. His plane was running late and the crowd was getting antsy. His band was there playing, but no Buck. Well, here he came running down the hill with his cowboy boots in his hand, yelling and waving ‘hello’. Of course, the crowd ate it up and went wild for that stuff.
While Johnny Cash played BLR a number of times there was a time that he was almost not asked back. Legends say that one time he actually fell off the stage and blamed it on the sun being too hot; however, those who attended knew that he loved his alcohol and pills maybe a little too much. Thanks to June Carter's intentions of marrying Cash he appeared again July 28, 1968 with the last live appearance of the legendary Luther Perkins. Do you remember when Johnny played Buck Lake? American singer, songwriter, musician, actor, and author. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 90 million records worldwide.
An American country music singer and songwriter, best known for songs such as "Marie Laveau", "Detroit City" and "500 Miles from Home". Bobby Played BLR throughout the 1970's.
Before rising to fame pioneering as the first black country music artist, he was a pitcher for the Memphis Red Sox. He broke boundaries in country music and sang hits like "Just Between You And Me". Charlie performed at BLR throughout the 1970's.
An American singer-songwriter who recorded most notably at the Sun Studio, in Memphis, beginning in 1954. His best-known songs are "Blue Suede Shoes", "Matchbox" and "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby". Carl played BLR throughout the 1980's.
Bellamy Brothers headlined a show at Buck Lake Ranch in April 1979. Howard and David wore winter coats and gloves with fingers cut out so they could play guitar. The shook the old bandshell at Buck Lake. Notably they performed "Let Your Love Flow".
The country-rock band Alabama played to a giant crowd at Buck Lake Ranch in 1982, as well as making another appearance at the Angola facility. Anyone who grew up in the area remembers major concerts at the site, for those who are younger, the band Alabama brought out a record crowd in the 1980s.
American rock 'n roll singer and dancer. He is widely known for popularising many dance styles including the twist dance style, with his 1960 hit cover of Hank Ballard & The Midnighters' R&B hit "The Twist" and the Pony with hit "Pony Time". Chubby appeared at BLR throughout the 1990's.
BGTV Direct and Marvin Baker acquired Buck Lake Ranch Camping and Entertainment, LLC. on May 18th, 2018. He is excited to bring it back with a uniquely upgraded entertainment district featuring the Legends Stage, Arts, Entertainment, and Music with up and coming acts out of Nashville to be featured on the Legends Stage partnering with SEE Tickets and Buck Lake Ranch Recordings.
Acres of Land