Eagle's Nest On Lookout Was Planned As Hanging Gardens

Saturday, July 6, 2019 - by John Wilson

There are still reminders on the lower slopes of Lookout Mountain of the planned "Hanging Gardens" that were to have transformed an old quarry into a majestic park.

Milton Ochs, younger brother of famed newspaper publisher Adolph Ochs, had the vision and led a fundraising drive. Though it was not successful in sustaining a "Hanging Gardens," it did result in thousands of acres on the mountainside being retained as parkland for all to enjoy.

The quarry, which is just below Ruby Falls on the Scenic Highway, was dug out at the time the Cummings Highway was being constructed below. A large amount of fill was needed for the daunting project around the steep north end of the mountain.

Prior to the Cummings Highway, the narrow Old Wauhatchie Pike was the route around the mountain for those leaving Chattanooga and headed for Nashville. Prior to that, the Federal Road was the main artery.

Wide stone steps by the highway still greet the visitor to the Eagles Nest. These lead to an amphitheater of sorts below the steep cliffs of the quarry. At one time there was a statue of Shakespeare nearby. Two ornate eagles were placed at the top to overlook it all.

Stone steps lead up to above the top of the quarry, then another set of steps goes on up to the old Broad Gauge Railroad. It is now in use at the Guild/Hardy Trail. 

It is owned and maintained by the Lookout Mountain Conservancy, having been a donation of former Ruby Falls owner Jack Steiner. 

Eagles Nest has long been a favorite of rock climbers. 

 


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