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.



Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ALLEN, DAVID WILLIAM  507 RIDGE DR CLEVELAND, 37312  Age at Arrest: 25 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County DRIVING ON REVOKED, SUSPENDED OR CANCELLED LICENSE --- ANDREWS, CHARLES LLOYD  2301 EAST 5TH STREET APT A CHATTANOOGA, 37404  Age at Arrest: 62 years old Arresting ... (click for more)

Person Shot At Apartments In East Brainerd Early Friday Morning

A person was shot at apartments in East Brainerd early Friday morning. At approximately 2:15 a.m., Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched to 3400 Jenkins Road to the Standifer Place Apartments in reference to a person who had been shot.  The sheriff's office Criminal Investigation Division was investigating. (click for more)

Who's Responsible For East Ridge's Stadium? - And Response (2)

There just can be no excuse for East Ridge High School's stadium being in such dangerous condition that it has been condemned.   Where is responsible for this? I know there are a few other stadiums like this as well. And there is no excuse for this.  Building new and beautiful schools, state of the art technology. Top athletic facilities as well. Yet, East Ridge ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Every Child Must Watch This

In the course of my day, I read different websites, am sent all kinds of neat videos and I love the jokes I get. But when I logged onto my ever-bulging email account Thursday morning, I happened across the scariest, most terrifying video I have ever watched. There is a website I check called “Atchuup” that boasts “cool stories daily.” Some are pretty good but this one nearly knocked ... (click for more)

Wrestling Session Sparks Lady 'Canes To Volleyball Win

All season long, East Hamilton volleyball coach Kristy Lenoir has been less than pleased with her team’s lack of emotion on the court. So, to change that Lenoir spent her allotted practice time putting the Lady Hurricanes through one-on-one wrestling matches. Yep, wrestling. “I’ve never had a practice like that one,” Lenoir said Thursday. “We’ve lacked emotion and a desire ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Football Opener: UTC vs. Jax State – Saturday at Finley Stadium; 6 p.m.

Saturday at Finley Stadium at 6 p.m.  it’s No.8 Chattanooga vs. No.7 Jacksonville (Ala.) State in arguably the most anticipated and talked about game in Chattanooga football history. An important region rivalry as a pair of top 10 FCS schools meet for the 39th time in the season opener for both schools. “This should be a great game between two of the best teams in ... (click for more)