Chattanooga Railroad Series: Tunnel Hill Depot And Tunnel

Thursday, July 10, 2014

One of the major obstacles to constructing a railroad from Atlanta to Chattanooga was the mountainous section north of Dalton, Ga.

The route finally selected involved building a tunnel 1,477 feet through the base of Chetoogeta Mountain.

Workers armed only with rudimentary tools worked 24-hour shifts digging on both sides. At some points in the mountain the workers encountered solid rock. Where there was not rock the sides and top were fashioned of brick.

The work of constructing a tunnel for the Western and Atlantic Railroad was finally completed after 22 months of toil. The first train went through the tunnel on May 9, 1850.

Just 12 years later, the Andrews Raiders drove The General through the tunnel, though they would run out of fuel just past Ringgold.

This narrow tunnel served until 1929 when a larger parallel tunnel was built. The larger locomotives had been having trouble getting through the tunnel, and there are still marks where some got stuck.

The historic tunnel lay neglected for many years, and damaging water marred some of the brick. An historic group eventually made plans to rescue the tunnel and get it in shape for tours. This was accomplished by 2000 - in time for the tunnel's 150th anniversary.

The preservation group also established a museum across from the old Tunnel Hill Depot that is near the tunnel. It includes many items detailing railroad and Civil War history.

The group also now owns the historic Clisby Austin House and 85 acres nearby. It was deeded to the group by businessman Kenneth Holcomb, who restored it and fitted it with period pieces. It includes several original outbuildings and a general store.

The two-story brick mansion was built in 1848. Its builder was a Union sympathizer during the Civil War so he did not feel it safe to return. The house served as a hospital for soldiers brought from the Battle of Chickamauga. Confederate General John Bell Hood was sent to the house to recuperate after losing a leg. He carried it with him so it could be buried with him in case he died. Hood survived, and the leg was buried near the house. It is marked by its own tombstone.  General William Sherman stayed at the Clisby Austin House on his March to the Sea.

The 1850 depot still survives, and there are plans to restore it. The depot was once surrounded by grain silos, but they have been removed.

Civil War re-enactments are held in fields near the mansion and the tunnel.

The museum center, Clisby Austin House and the tunnel are open for guided tours. Guests are taken via golf cart to the mansion, the general store and the tunnel after first visiting the museum and ticket office.



Corker Confers With Trump On Health Care; Senator Says He Is Ready To Help Fix Broken System

Senator Bob Corker, commenting on the American Health Care Act, said he is ready to work to try to help fix "a broken system.".    He said, “I had a nice talk  tonight  with President Trump. At some point, on behalf of the American people, we have to resolve the issues that are driving up costs, limiting choices, and causing the individual market ... (click for more)

EPB Finds Substation It Has Operated Since 1929 Actually Belongs To TVA

EPB officials said a substation on Brainerd Road that the utility has operated since 1929 actually belongs to TVA. "We thought we owned it all along," President David Wade said. He said TVA recently contacted EPB wanting to sell the property, and EPB agreed. The lot, next to Mayo's Bar and Grill, is appraised at just $13,000. Mr. Wade said the substation has the original ... (click for more)

Slaxxon Regret

Back in the seventies my three oldest brothers had a buddy named Steve Slack. “Slack” was a star soccer player at Baylor and he grew up on Lookout Mountain, which is where I grew up. He and Jimmy, Henry and Bill went to the University of Virginia where they were roommates in an old, beat up house that was painted pink. Naturally, the place became known as the “Pink Palace” but lest ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Geno: Our ‘Me’ Culture

By almost every measure, Geno Auriemma is the best basketball coach in America. His University of Connecticut women are riding a record 109-game winning streak that dates to Nov. 17, 2016. Stanford barely beat them in overtime 3 years ago, but, before that, they won 41 straight. That means UConn is 153-1 and, in the current 109 streak, they have double-figure wins over the opponents ... (click for more)

Dinger Sparks Lookout Valley's Late Rally For Win

There are times in high school sports when later is better than never. Such was the case for the Lookout Valley softball team Friday evening as they waited until the last possible moment to make their move against Covenant Christian in the second day of pool play at the Lookout Valley Invitational being played at the O’Mary-Conard Field at Lookout Valley Elementary School. ... (click for more)

Owls Score Late To Knock Off Columbia Academy 5-3

Every sermon Ooltewah coach Brian Hitchcox preaches from his baseball pulpit will at some point stresses defense. After Friday’s five-error effort in its own Ooltewah Invitational at A.C. “Bud” Ball Field, Hitchcox was probably going to be delivering a fire and brimstone speech to his baseball team. Despite the sloppy fielding – and throwing the ball around the yard and ... (click for more)