First New Parkland To Be Set Aside At Historic Missionary Ridge In Many Decades

Monday, March 10, 2014

The first new parkland in many decades is set to be set aside soon at the site of the historic Civil War fighting at Missionary Ridge.

Rick Wood, director of the Chattanooga office of the Trust for Public Land, said 27 acres near the old Missionary Ridge railroad tunnel will be held initially by the Tennessee Historic Commission.

Mr. Wood said, "This site is sloped land that is incredibly important in connection with the fighting on Missionary Ridge in 1863 between the Confederate and Union forces."

He said tracts are being purchased from Carrington Montague of Lookout Mountain, who has long been active in historic preservation, and from the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. The TVRM still operates train service through the tunnel that dates to the late 1840s.

The TVRM recently assembled some of the land. 

The City Council on March 18 is set to consider an ordinance for the city "to act as a government sponsor and pass-through entity for a grant from the American Battlefield Protection Program, a part of the National Park Service, to be passed through to the Trust for Public Land, which will purchase and preserve two tracts of land which are part of the Missionary Ridge Battlefield, for an amount not to exceed $950,000."

Mr. Wood said the tracts will not become part of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park at this time because Congress has not yet authorized any extension of its boundaries on Missionary Ridge.

"In the future, that would be the goal," he said.

The park service currently has several small reservations, as well as the larger Sherman Reservation, near Crest Road on Missionary Ridge.

Mr. Wood said the state, the American Battlefield Protection Program and the Civil War Trust combined to make the new parkland possible.

Jim Ogden, chief historian for Chickamauga Battlefield, said the site is on the slopes below North Crest Road near the railroad tunnel where there was significant fighting.

He said General Patrick Cleburne's forces were seeking to hold Tunnel Hill from approaching Union forces. He said some of the Federals used the cover of the railroad embankment during the fighting.

He said the site also includes portions of the next unnamed hill to the south. He said a Confederate artillery unit was on the hill.

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