Originally a trading post on the Tennessee River, Ross's Landing was founded by Cherokee Indian Chief John Ross in 1816 and served as the beginnings of the community that has become Chattanooga, Tennessee. The name Chattanooga comes from a word in the Creek Indian language that means 'rock coming to a point'. The settlement took the name in reference to Lookout Mountain in 1838, the same year that the Cherokee Indians left from Ross's Landing on what would eventually become known as the Trail of Tears. By 1860, with a population of approximately 2000, Chattanooga was one of the New World's larger cities.
The Campaign for Chattanooga
In 1863 the bloodiest two-day battle of the American Civil War took place in Chickamauga, Georgia, just 16 miles to the south of Chattanooga. At the end of the battle Confederate forces held Chickamauga while Union troops occupied Chattanooga. With the arrival of General Ulysses S Grant (and a fair bit of help from Generals Thomas, Hooker, and Sherman) the Union troops won the following five battles in the Campaign for Chattanooga to maintain their hold on the city. This eventually allowed for Sherman's march on Atlanta, followed shortly thereafter by the end of the war.
The Chattanooga National Cemetery was created at the end of the Campaign in 1863, and officially became the nation's first national cemetery in 1867 when provisions were made for the protection of national cemeteries.
The battlefields have since been designated as the first military park, and are the largest in the nation. Tours of the battlefields are available.
Pardon Me, Boy, Is That the Chattanooga Choo Choo?
You leave the Pennsylvania Station 'bout a quarter to four
Read a magazine and then you're in Baltimore
Dinner in the diner
Nothing could be finer
Than to have your ham an' eggs in Carolina
The Chattanooga Choo Choo made its first run on 5 March, 1880. Although nearly every train to the south made a stop in Chattanooga, the one immortalized in song was the first to run from the north1 to Chattanooga non-stop.
The song 'Chattanooga Choo Choo' written by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon became popular in the 1940s after being featured in the movie Sun Valley Serenade2. Glenn Miller and his Orchestra originally recorded the tune in 1941, earning Mr Miller the first-ever Gold Record for sales surpassing one million copies3.
In the late 1960s with the increasing popularity of more convenient forms of transportation (autos and airplanes) many of the nation's passenger train facilities began to close, including Chattanooga's Terminal Station in August 1970. Fortunately Terminal Station was spared demolition and was reopened in 1973 as a vacation complex, which has since changed hands and is now operated by Holiday Inns. In addition to traditional rooms the hotel features accommodations in restored Victorian rail cars, today's Chattanooga Choo Choo.
See Rock City!
The 'streets' formed naturally by the rocks atop Lookout Mountain were once part of a Native American settlement, but today they make up the mother of all rock gardens. Developed by Frieda Carter in the early 1920s, Rock City was opened to the public in 1924. The winding trails through the rocks present a beautiful view culminating at Lover's Leap from where on a clear day you can see seven states4.
World's Tallest and Steepest
While you're on Lookout Mountain you can also visit Ruby Falls. The attraction was discovered in 1928 during a drilling project to create an elevator shaft into Lookout Caverns and was named for founder Leo Lambert's wife Ruby. Ruby Falls is the world's tallest underground waterfall at 145 feet.
Before leaving Lookout Mountain you should ride the Incline Railway, which has the distinction of being the steepest passenger railway in the world. For more than a century the Incline has taken passengers to the highest overlook on the mountain. Trolley-style cars climb the 72.7% grade. Once at the top you can visit Point Park located just three blocks from the station and is the site of the Civil War's Battle Above the Clouds.
The Scenic City
Chattanooga is sometimes called the 'Scenic City' and is home to a branch of the University of Tennessee. It is also home to the Tennessee Aquarium which boasts being the world's largest freshwater aquarium.
It may be famous for it's Choo Choo, but sadly Chattanooga no longer enjoys passenger train service. It is possible to travel by Amtrak5, but the last leg of your journey (from Atlanta) will be by bus. A better option would be to fly into the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport (CHA), but only a handful of cities offer non-stop service. The best way to arrive would be by car. It's a lovely drive unless you're travelling through Georgia. Chattanooga lies at the convergence of US Interstate 24 and Interstate 75, about two hours southeast of Nashville, Tennessee, or two hours north of Atlanta, Georgia. Accommodation abounds and it's fairly easy to stay in the downtown area without breaking the bank.