Tri-state (TN-GA-AL) Rail Stops - Mountain Railways

Thursday, October 6, 2016 - by Chuck Hamilton

LOOKOUT POINT INCLINE RAILROAD and MOUNT LOOKOUT RAILWAY, 1886

 

Point Lookout became an attraction long before the National Park existed.  Visitors began to increase after Chattanooga residents flocked to the mountain to escape the yellow fever epidemic of 1878.  Harriet Whiteside, widow of railway and business magnate James Whiteside, owned the only stable road up the mountain, Whiteside Turnpike, the use of which she began to charge a hefty fee for.  When a group of entrepeneurs built another road to reach the summit, the Lookout Mountain Turnpike (now Ochs Highway), and offered its use at half the fee, Harriet fenced off access to the Point, which she also owned. 

Another group, including some of the rival turnpike crowd, built the Lookout Point Incline Railroad, commonly called Incline No. 1, to a spot just under the Point in 1886.  Its base was next to Chattanooga Medicine Company in St. Elmo.

The following year this group began operating a narrow gauge railroad on the summit, the Mount Lookout Railway, commonly referred to as the Narrow Gauge.  Its tracks ran along the path now called the Bluff Trail.

The modernistic Point Hotel of several stories and wraparound porches opened in 1888, with a depot on the east for Incline No. 1 and on the west for the Narrow Gauge.

Both Incline No. 1 and the Narrow Gauge ended service in 1899.  Its rival, Lookout Incline and Lula Lake Railway electrified the Narrow Gauge and operated over its tracks well into the 20th century.

The stations on the Mount Lookout Railway were as follows.

Point Lookout Hotel

The hotel served as the terminal for this railway and for Incline No. 1.

Sunset Park

This depot was at the park above Sunset Rock on the West Brow.  At the turn of the century, there was also a Sunrise Park on the East Brow, east of what is now the eastern north-south stretch of Fairyland Trail.

Natural Bridge

This depot was at the formerly neglected natural rock formation on the mountaintop that has been rehabilitated in the last few years and is now the center of Natural Bridge Park.  The ravine in which this feature lies is behind the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd.  The Natural Bridge is 85 feet long and 15 feet tall.

MISSION RIDGE INCLINE RAILWAY, 1887

Mission Ridge Incline Railway began as a Forney locomotive operation in 1887, beginning at Ridgedale Junction on the Belt Line.  The railway had one locomotive, named for its owner, The George Sherwood.  The Chattanooga Electric Street Railroad Company purchased a controlling interest the line in 1889 and electrified it.  Trolley service ran until 1945.

While many have claimed the exact route is unknown, the Platt map books in the local history section of the Chattanooga Public Library show that very thing.  With the exception of Suburba in the 1904 edition, however, none of the stations on the line are shown.

Other than Ridgedale Junction, Suburba, and Bragg’s Headquarters, these locations are either vague or only speculative.

Ridgedale Junction

This depot marked the beginning of the spur line leading up the ridge that formed the Mission Ridge Incline Railway.

For more information, see the section on Union Railway of Chattanooga.

Suburba

This station, later called “McCallie Avenue”, was indeed on that street at the time.  Or, rather, opposite the end of it at the beginning of the curve where it turned into Shallowford Road.  Not too many years ago, before McCallie Avenue at the west mouth of the Missionary Ridge Tunnel was redesigned, after coming around this curve coming down from the ridge into town the street became McCallie Avenue at that point.  At the time of the Belt Line, the street was McCallie Avenue from its intersection with Bird’s Mill Road on the ridgeside.

The post office of Suburba operated here from 1885 to 1901.

Indian Springs

Not the better known feature at the western foot of the ridge, these springs were probably at what was supposed to be a public park between Spring Street (Rose Terrace) and Bird’s Mill Road (Rosemont Drive), named appropriately Spring Park.

Shallow Ford

My best guess is that this station was at Shallow Ford Gap and the road over it into the Chickamauga Valley.

The length of Rockmeade Drive-Audobon Drive-Vista Drive-Tunnel Boulevard was once known as Shallow Ford Road, but also as Cleveland Pike.  The entire length of Cleveland Avenue, even west to East End (Central) Avenue was also known as Shallowford Road, by the way.  What’s more, Cleveland Pike was also a name for Lightfoot Mill Road before and after it intersected with what is now Tunnel Boulevard before continuing east over much of what is now Bonny Oaks Drive.

During the Civil War, there was an engagement at Shallow Ford Gap on Missionary Ridge on 22 September 1863 in the aftemath of the Battle of Chickamauga.

Bragg’s Headquarters

This area, where Gen. Braxton Bragg, general commanding of the (Confederate) Army of Tennesssee, had his headquarters during the Siege and Battles of Chattanooga,  became part of the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park, and was located the same place as the Bragg Reservation of the park is today.  Missionary Ridge School once stood above my grandparents’ house at the reservation’s eastern side where Tri-State Mobile Welding is now.

Crescent Hill

I have seen this marked as a feature on some map of the Civil War battle or the siege, but cannot remember where I saw it or exactly where it was.

Thurman Springs

The railway ended just before the end of the modern East View Drive at East Shadowlawn Drive, directly above East Lake Park.  Before the lake was created, the spot was already famous for its Thurman Springs, the springhouse for which can be seen in early pictures of the park, and the garden surrounding it.

CHATTANOOGA AND LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN RAILWAY, 1889

Known popularly as the Broad Gauge to distinguish it from its narrow-gauge rival Mount Lookout Railway, this standard-gauge railroad began service to Lookout Mountain in January 1889 to take advantage of the growing interest in visiting its attractions.  Its chief developer was Richard Watkins.

The mountain has been the site of two major military engagements in local history. 

The first took place in 1782 along the stretch of the Great Indian Warpath over the mountain’s bench (now Old Wauhatchie Pike).  Joseph Martin’s militia from the State of Franklin were routed by the Chickamauga Cherokee defending the withdrawal of their fellow militant Cherokee from the Chickamauga towns to the Five Lower Towns area. 

The second, of course, was the Battle of Lookout Mountain on 24 November 1863.

The post office of Lookout Mountain was established in 1867.  The town of Lookout Mountain was incorporated in 1890.

The Guild-Hardy Trail on the mountain follows most of this railway’s former roadbed.

Union Depot

This was the home base for the Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain Railway.  The railway used the Belt Line to get to the beginning of its own tracks and stopped at some of its stations, but those are covered under Union Railway of Chattanooga.

Mountain Junction

This was the beginning of the railway’s wholly-owned tracks.

See the Mountain Division in the section on the Union Railway of Chattanooga.

Chetolah

The first stop on the mountain.  It may have been at the switch-back on the western side.

Cravens Terrace

The site of the Robert Cravens House of Civil War battle fame.

Lookout Mountain House

This hotel stood on Stonedge Road.  The hotel open in 1875 and burned in 1890.  It was later the site of home of Jerome Pound, co-founder of Chattanooga News along with W. M. Bearden and later mayor of Lookout Mountain, which he named “Stonedge”.

Ross Avenue

This street is now South Hermitage Avenue.  The depot stood west of the street and north of the tracks.

Stone’s Cottage

An inn between Ross Avenue and the Natural Bridge.

Natural Bridge

This physical feature lies southwest of the intersection of South Bragg Avenue and Fleetwood Drive.  Its attraction was such that a man named Joseph McCullough built the Natural Bridge Hotel here in 1884, though the effort folded in 1888.

Glen View

This was a subdivision south of East and West Road and Sunset Road West down to the stateline; much of its planned extent later became Fairyland.  The depot was in Spring Park opposite the end of Tasso Street, what today is the northern east-west stretch of Mitchell Drive.

Clift’s Station

The location of this station is unclear; it may have been next to the old post office, which was then halfway between Glen View Station and Hunt’s Station.

Hunt’s Station

In the vicinity of where North Watauga Lane intersects with Scenic Highway; Hunt’s Eastern Addition lay just to the west.

Sunset Rock Station

Sunset Park on West Brow Road was serviced by the rival Narrow Gauge; the depot for this railway, the Broad Gauge, was some distance to the east.

Lookout Inn

This massive 450-room luxury hotel overlooking Chattanooga took up an entire half block between Morrison Street SW, Lee Avenue, and North Bragg Avenue.  The station for the railway, and later for Incline No. 2, was at the end of a spur which brought passengers directly in front of the hotel; the junction was on Depot Street East.  Opened in 1890, the hotel, previously thought inflammable, burned in 1908.

Point Park

After the National Park opened, the railway extended its line to Park Street, which is now Point Park Road.

LOOKOUT INCLINE AND LULA LAKE RAILWAY, 1895

Harriet Whiteside got her revenge several years after moving off Lookout Mountain by providing the bulk of the financing for this enterprise, which began operating in 1895.  This railway, then popularly known as Incline No. 2, planned to build an electric railway to Lula Lake in Georgia, but it never got built.  Instead, the company took over operation of the Narrow Gauge tracks after that company folded, continuing well into the 20th century.

Incline No. 2 still operates as Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, with its base at in St. Elmo and its apex at 827 East Brow Road at the summit.  Initially, it was built to the depot it shared with the Broad Gauge for Lookout Inn.

Chuck Hamilton

<natty4bumpo@gmail.com>



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