Chattanooga Railroad Series: Southern Railway Line Through The Lookout Mountain Tunnel

Monday, May 19, 2014 - by John Wilson

Southern Railway in 1905 announced it was carrying out a $4 million Chattanooga building program that included a new train station as well as a new line into town from Lookout Mountain.

The new Terminal Station was to be built on South Market Street near Main at the site of the old Stanton House hotel.

The line from Lookout was necessary because, due to increasing train traffic, the old line on a narrow strip around the base of the mountain was no longer adequate. Its single track was overcrowded with trains coming along the original route from Nashville as well as up from New Orleans and Birmingham.

Because there was no space for a parallel line at the base of the steep Lookout bluffs, it was necessary to build a long tunnel through the end of the mountain. Mexican laborers were brought in for the dangerous tunnel work on the project that stretched 3,537 feet in the mountainside.

Workers on the tunnel tapped into a spacious cave that had been inhabited by Native Americans for thousands of years. The train tunnel had the effect of sealing off the original entrance to the cave.  Later, there was an attempt to drill down to the old cave from above, and it was then that Ruby Falls was discovered above the level of the sealed cave.

The new line branched off from the Nashville route near Wauhatchie Pike in Lookout Valley. It then proceeded to the Terminal Station using a string of concrete overpasses that extended from the valley to St. Elmo and then Alton Park.

The new line trestled over the old one near Cummings Highway, then it went across the highway on the first of the overpasses near where Wauhatchie Pike meets Cummings Highway..

It then went across the old Cummings family farm known as Cummings Bottom. A second concrete overpass was built across a dirt section of the old Federal Road that was built into the Indian Country in 1805. There are several more overpasses spanning dirt roads at Cummings Bottom.

The line trestles over Lookout Creek and then the old Nashville track before entering the tunnel below Cummings Highway behind the old Lockmiller's Motel.

It comes out near St. Elmo - still below Cummings Highway. There is a concrete overpass that spans Cummings Highway not far from the Mount Vernon Restaurant. In just a short distance, there is another overpass across St. Elmo Avenue. Then another one tops Tennessee Avenue.

There is an overpass above 37th Street, which follows the old Federal Road from Rossville. Another overpass is built above Alton Park Boulevard. The train then goes over the old TAG Railroad line and then over the extension that the Nashville line built to Alton Park.

It then follows an old Belt Line route into town on what has become a part of the Main Line at Chattanooga. It crosses Rossville Avenue and Main Street before reaching the rear of the Terminal Station.

The route now continues on along the Main Line by the National Cemetery and Warner Park along the route of the first train into Chattanooga - the Western and Atlantic.

The date 1907 is stamped into several of the concrete overpasses.

The Lookout Mountain tunnel's entrance and exit are in such remote locations on the mountainside that most residents never see them. 

The first train entered the grand Terminal Station on Dec. 1, 1909. The 23-acre site had been cleared in early 1906.

 

 

 


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: AARON, DARREL DEON 211 APPLING STREET CHATTANOOGA, 37406 35 Chattanooga LICENSE, EXPIRED DRIVER LICENSE DRIVING LEFT OF CENTER LINE FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY POSSESSION OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE ATKINSON, JAMAAL NATHANIEL 737 TALLEY RD CHATTANOOGA, 37411 23 Chattanooga DOMESTIC ASSAULT ... (click for more)

Red Bank Citizens Urged To Attend Meeting On Flood Risk Maps

A public meeting will be held on Monday, April 13, from 4-7 p.m. with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at the DRC building, 1250 Market St. “I can’t convey how important it is for the residents of Red Bank to go,” said City Manager Randall Smith. This will be an opportunity for residents and property owners to review the new preliminary flood risk maps, as well as ... (click for more)

Tennessee Deserves Better Health Reform - And Response

Tennessee needs health care reform. Expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," was not the best solution for Tennesseans. That is why the vast majority of Tennessee legislators never publicly supported the plan defeated in a special legislative session in February.   It is important to distinguish health care from health insurance. As one physician ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Happy Birthday, Mr. Berg

This past Monday we should have closed the Post Office, let kids out of school, and lowered our flags to half-mast. March 2 is the anniversary of Moe Berg’s birthday and the legendary Casey Stengel once said Moe was “the strangest man ever to play baseball.” Moe played major league baseball for 16 years, finishing with the Boston Red Sox in 1939 and a lifetime batting average of ... (click for more)

Double Overtime Thriller: Central Boys Going To State

For all the folks who came to Chattanooga State Tuesday night for the Class AA sectional battle between Livingston Academy and Region 3-AA champ Central, they got their money's worth and more. And they even got some free basketball to boot. Needing a couple of overtimes, the Purple Pounders will be heading to Murfreesboro and MTSU's Murphy Center next week for the TSSAA State ... (click for more)

Blackman Blazes A Trail To State By Bashing Bradley, 55-35

(Story will be updated) MUFREESBORO, Tenn. – The Class AAA state champions are still alive and well. Blackman raced past outmanned Bradley Central, 55-35, Tuesday night in a Class AAA sectional victory that blazed a path right to the boys state tournament at nearby Middle Tennessee State University starting on March 11. The Blaze (24-5) will be making their fourth ... (click for more)