A new cruise option will soon be available to passengers aboard the Tennessee Aquarium River Gorge Explorer – heading upstream from the Chattanooga Pier. The new Seven Bridges Cruise launches on Saturday when regularly scheduled trips up to the Chickamauga Dam begin.
“The upstream tours we’ve hosted as special events have been very popular,” said Captain Pete Hosemann. “Our guests find it very relaxing to spend time topside while approaching the rocky face of the Bluff View Arts District from upriver. The scenery is much different looking up while learning about the Bluff Furnace, flying ferry and construction methods employed when the Walnut Street Bridge was built back in 1890.”
Beginning with Chattanooga’s most famous downtown bridges, the list includes:
John Ross / Market Street Bridge
Walnut Street Bridge
C.B. Robinson Bridge
Cincinnati Railroad Bridge
Wilkes T. Thrasher Bridge
Each of these landmark structures have fascinating timelines that Aquarium naturalists will bring to life - including the eighth, “Ghost Bridge.”
Many passengers will also discover little-known facts about the people and historic sites viewed from aboard the Explorer along the Seven Bridges Cruise route. “We have done a lot of research for these trips and have uncovered some really interesting nuggets of history,” said Aquarium naturalist John Dever. “I think people will appreciate the archival photos and artist renderings we’ll show while cruising past each point of interest.”
Passengers may also be surprised by wildlife sightings along the route between the Chickamauga Dam and the Aquarium. On one recent upstream cruise, Dever spotted two bald eagles, several hawks, osprey, both blue and green herons and a pretty frenzied colony of nesting cliff swallows. The Explorer will pass slowly by both sides of “Chattanooga’s Downtown Bird Sanctuary” and other portions of the river that remain relatively undeveloped. “There are some pretty large stretches of unbroken tree canopy on the Seven Bridges Cruise route,” said Dever. “And, much of the shoreline contains favorable habitat for other critters like muskrats and even river otters.”
Guests will have plenty of time to take in the scenery and capture great images from the Explorer’s topside observation deck on these tours. The captains have charted the cruises to allow for nearly an hour and a half to move about the vessel and enjoy being outside. The last cruise of the day will bring guests back downtown as the sun is setting.
Both the new Seven Bridges Cruise and River Gorge Cruise will be offered through the end of September. On most days the Seven Bridges Cruise will be offered at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. To view the complete daily schedule and purchase tickets online, go to http://www.tnaqua.org/RiverGorgeExplorer/RiverGorgeExplorer.aspx