Chattanooga Was a Thirsty Town

First in a series on Chattanooga beer and whiskey memorabilia

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - by Tom Carson

Chattanooga was an iron and steel town – The Dynamo of Dixie.  It was a railroad town – by 1900 it was served by 10 railroads.

The location, industry and environment made Chattanooga a very thirsty town.  By around 1914 Chattanooga was exporting over 750,000 gallons of liquor per year and beer by the trainload. Around 1909, there were allegedly 109 saloons in Chattanooga.

By that time, there was a lot of pressure to cut down on the number of saloons and the open view of the painted ladies to the public. The smarter saloons were no longer using the name saloon, but fancy titles like the Marble Hall.  The Stag became a men’s only club. There were over a period of a few years no less than 20 “distilleries” or re-branders with operations in Chattanooga. Many are known only by their relics.

Over the next several months, I am going to look at the Beer and Whiskey tokens – especially the distillers and bottlers. I will, when I have it, illustrate collateral material like shot glasses, advertising currency, bottles and other material.

Scott Price Distillery

Saloons and distilleries are often not included in the business directories. Also street renaming complicates things. This makes research a little challenging.  According to pre-pro.com, Scott Price was listed in the Chattanooga Directories at 129 E. Main St (formerly Montgomery) from 1912-15.   According to the 1901 Sanborn-Perris Fire Maps, this was a wholesale liquor dealer in 1901.

On the Scott Price token, the address was 254 Montgomery, which on the 1901 maps was a saloon.  In 1901 the address would have been E. Montgomery. I believe Scott Price was originally a saloon that expanded into wholesale liquor and had to have a second location.

Scott Price was likely a very small distillery operating out of the saloon and later the wholesale liquor business. Although small, Scott Price did a lot of advertising. Note the 1880 dates on the credit certificate. This is the date that I think Scott Price went into business as a saloon. The credit certificate gave you one free quart with each 8 quarts purchased.

From advertising shot glasses on pre-pro.com, Old Scott Pure Corn Whiskey was 4 quarts for $3 prepaid. Scott’s Pure Malt was $3.99 for 4 Quarts Prepaid. 1880 “Old Lookout Quarts for $4 Express Prepaid Club” was 4. The images are from the Ralph van Brocklin collection and posted on pre-pro.com.

The two Scott Price shot glasses are in my collection. The corkscrew reads “Scott Price Distillery / Distiller of Old Fashioned/ Hand Made Corn Whiskey / (unreadable) / Old Scott / Chattanooga, Tenn.”

By far the most common bottle are the Scott Price Distillery / Scott’ Pure Malt embossed bottles. The Old Scott Corn Whiskey had paper bottles and paper does not survive well.

An old letter published on The Chattanoogan.com states: “Morg & Scott Price had a small distillery on Main St. in Chattanooga. They did not bottle whiskey but sold it to barrel houses (a bar with no bottles). They paid Uncle some $250,000.00 for barrels that never went dry; filled in the day time, drained from underneath at night.“  If this is true, they were probably rebranding liquor to fill these orders. It would be hard to imagine them with that capacity.

Georgia went dry in 1908; this caused a boom for business in Chattanooga. Liquor could not be sold in Georgia, but it could be express shipped over the railroads radiating out of Chattanooga. Several distilleries from Ohio, Kentucky, Florida, and Georgia, either moved to Chattanooga or opened distribution centers here. The jug trade became big business. Many of the companies shipped in quart to 5 gallon jugs. This gave Tennessee the jug reputation.

This article is not a scholarly article with all the footnotes, but is an attempt to add a little information to the history of liquor in Chattanooga. 

Tom Carson

tcarson@ewkm.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Chattanooga Books Available By John Wilson

John Wilson, former Hamilton County Historian, has written two volumes on the early families of Hamilton County and also books on Chattanooga and on Lookout Mountain, as well as editing books on Chattanooga's railroads and the Stokes and Hiener photo collections. Railroads In And Around Chattanooga , featuring Chattanooga's intriguing railroad history, has 69 chapters and covers ... (click for more)

Thousands Of Items From Chattanooga History Headed To UTC

Chattanooga’s history is moving into the UTC Library. More than 7,600 objects, almost 14,000 photos, and a huge number of text and paper items are being packed for the trip to their new home.  Among the items, originally intended for the Chattanooga History Center are more than 100 years of personal and family papers, business records, photographic materials, ... (click for more)

Young Woman Suffers Serious Injuries In 30-Foot Fall At Quarry At Greenway Farms

A young woman was seriously injured on Wednesday night  when she fell approximately 30 feet from a bluff at the the Greenway Farms quarry in Hixson.   Some kayakers were paddling in the quarry shortly after  8 p.m. when they saw the woman fall to the ground below. They immediately went over to the victim and called 911. The Chattanooga Fire Department ... (click for more)

Walker County Taking Out Another Loan To Deal With Debts Left By Bebe Heiskell Administration

Walker County officials said they are having to take out another loan to deal with debts left by the Bebe Heiskell administration. Commissioner Shannon Whitfield has called a special meeting for Thursday at 2 p.m. at the commissioner's office in Lafayette. The agenda includes a $4 million tax anticipation note from Lafayette Bank, which stepped in to help the new administration ... (click for more)

CPS Should Have A Manned 24/7 Presence In Every County

This week something became abundantly clear to me. The Department of Child Protective Services in the state of Tennessee, or at least in Hamilton County, are asleep at the wheel.   Early yesterday afternoon local news stations broke the news: "Animals Removed from Soddy Daisy Home."  What the news station either didn't know, or didn't report, was that the children of ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Heroes Gather On July 14

Oliver North, whose journey as American patriot has not been an easy one, never lost hope. He once admitted he lied to Congress under oath, was found guilty of three felony counts after he followed the direct orders of his superiors, and then endured the wrath of the ignorant before the ACLU – of all sources – had the charges vacated. The former Lt. Colonel in the Marine Corps ... (click for more)