Mysterious Oval Shape in Chattanooga High 1960 Yearbook Explained

Monday, August 12, 2013 - by Harmon Jolley

Through the help of several readers, the question that I posted yesterday has been answered.

The front page of the Memories column ( features a stand-alone captioned photograph or graphic.  I update the image twice a week. 

Last week, I ran a copy of an aerial photograph of Chattanooga High from the 1960 yearbook.  At the time, the school that was also known as City High was located on Third Street, present campus of the Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences.

At the top of the photograph was a large oval shape.  This was on a site that was redeveloped during the 1970's construction of Riverfront Parkway.  

I asked readers to identify the oval shape, and offered my own guesses.  Was it the track and field area of the Dynamos of City High or the Moccasins of the University of Chattanooga?  Was it a race track where Nybergs were tested?  Was it the shadow of a UFO? 

Not even my ever-loving grandma would have said, "Good guess" for those last two guesses.

So, here is the correct answer.

The oval shape was indeed a track that formed the perimeter of the Scrappy Moore football practice field, which is still there today. 

A 1958 Chattanooga Times article reported that the University of Chattanooga board of trustees approved plans for new athletic fields, which were to be named for long-time coach and athletic directory, A.C. (Scrappy) Moore.   In 1963, the university announced a five-year plan to extend the campus towards the Tennessee River.  Scrappy Moore field was said to fit into that plan, which was never implemented.

So, whatever happened to the track? 

A reader responded, "The oval shape appears to be a running track around what is now Scrappy Moore practice field along the TN River. You can see Manker Patten Tennis Center in upper left. As your article indicates Riverfront Parkway reduced the size of the area and the running track had to be removed in order for the practice field to be shifted toward the river bank where there is a small amount of room left for the river walk."

Memories writer John Shearer, who compiled a book on the history of UC/UTC football, said, "The land had been purchased by UC from funds left the school in the estate of Miss Mabel Hooper. Selmon T. Franklin drew the plans."  Miss Hooper was the daughter of W.W. Hooper, a dean and teacher at UC from its earliest years.  Hooper Hall on the university's campus was named for him.

 Another reader recalled his days at City High School.  "I graduated from City in 1962. There was a parade ground directly behind the school, with a  track running around the field. The track can be partially seen in the photo. ROTC cadets assembled and marched on the field. To the far left is the John B. Steele gym with the curved roof.   The track was made of cinders. They took the clinkers from the coal furnace and crushed them to use on the track. I worked for Coach Buzzard  marking the lanes with lime, setting up hurtles, etc."

Other readers recalled memories which are related to  the impact that Riverfront Parkway's construction had on the neighborhood.  Riverfront Parkway was originally part of a planned freeway to connect downtown to Highway 153.  The freeway was never fully built, though the expressway-style Riverfront Parkway did provide a connector to Amnicola Highway.  In the construction process, several homes were demolished.

 "My Grandmother and Grandfather lived on Riverside Dr. and my Mother went to City High School.  I believe her house was one of those that is visible to the left of the school.  As a kid, I visited there often.  They had a tower in their yard for a TV antenna in order to pick up early TV stations.  I remember that they were on the side of Riverside Dr away from the river and to my memory had a large yard to the left side of the house.  However, when I have revisited things that were large in my memory as a kid, they have turned out to be pretty small.  They also had a detached garage behind the house.  It was a large house with 4 bedrooms upstairs and one downstairs.  It was built in the Craftsman style.  It is a tragedy that those old houses were destroyed."

"Back in the 60’s Riverside drive came past the EPB substation behind the school and past what is now the student parking lot. You can still see the old guardrail and roadbed  off in the woods. It followed Siskin drive to 3rd street passing by the gym.  WDXB or WGOW radio station was in what is now the student parking area. The track was around UC practice field, later UTC."

 I met one of the sports writers for The at the library today.  He was interested in the details of the UC track, and is going to contact some former UC Moccasin coaches and players to hear their memories.  We'll keep you updated on this.

Thanks to our readers who helped to identify the item in the photograph.

Have another Chattanooga mystery that you want explained?  Please send me an e-mail at



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