Knox businessman buys Howard Baker home

Knoxville businessman Pete Claussen was the successful bidder Saturday on Howard H. Baker Jr.’s home near Huntsville, reports Georgiana Vines. Claussen said he plans to use the Cumberland Plateau property as a corporate retreat.

Claussen bid $641,000 at an estate sale on two parcels containing the home, guest cabin and other holdings of the longtime Republican U.S. senator, who also served as U.S. ambassador to Japan. Baker died at age 88 in June 2014.

Claussen had to pay a 10 percent buyer’s fee, making his total commitment $705,100, a spokeswoman for Furrow Auction Co. said.

About 100 people attended the auction, conducted in a tent beside the main residence. Much of the auction in the morning was held in the rain, which auctioneer Sam Furrow said kept people from going to the lake or to the golf course.

…After the real-estate auction, 300 pieces of personal items were sold late into the afternoon. Trixie Heeter of Furrow Auction reported close to $60,000 was raised, subject to running various reports. That means nearly $766,000 was raised at the auction.

Claussen is chairman and CEO of Gulf & Ohio Railroads, which operates short-line railroads in Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina. The family enterprise includes the Three Rivers Rambler excursion train.