Reliving History In Chattanooga: The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and Civil War Battlefields are Highlights
A visit to Chattanooga is an opportunity to experience history. Few cities in the nation are as closely tied to railroads and the Civil War as Chattanooga. An enjoyable exploration of this Tennessee Valley town shows that railroads and the civil war have defined what Chattanooga was and the major influence it has today.
The Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad reached Chattanooga in 1854. A decade later, the town’s railroads would be embroiled in the U.S. Civil War, both a strategic pipeline and target of the battle between North and South. Battles in and around Chattanooga were decisive in the defeat of the Confederacy and the eventual end of the U.S. Civil War and railroads played a prominent part in both. When the war ended, the railroads in the region as well as Chattanooga itself were in shambles both physically and financially. As the 19th century progressed, recovery in this “gateway to the South” proceeded apace and brought a railroad revival that carried commerce once again to the growing city and linked it with Atlanta and points north.
Today, the city, still laced with rail lines, celebrates its heritage with a firstrate operating railroad museum and numerous civil war battlefield monuments and National Park interpretative centers and historical sites.
The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, 6 miles from downtown, operates more than 100 year old steam locomotives pulling vintage passenger cars and gives riders a realistic taste what it must have been like in the golden age of railroading. One of its routes tunnels under Missionary Ridge, site of a major Civil War Battle.
To get a good sense of the carnage that took place around Chattanooga in the 1860s a visit to the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park Visitor’s Center or Lookout Mountain is a mustdo for Chattanooga visitors in search of history.
Contemporary Chattanooga is an interesting city to visit with a bustling and revitalized downtown riverfront and an excellent aquarium, a good art museum and, of course, the Chattanooga Choo Choo complex named after the famous 1940s song made famous by Glen Miller.
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The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and the battlefields require a car for access.
- By air, Chattanooga International Airport (CHA) is 3 miles from the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and 9 miles from the downtown Chattanooga riverfront. It is served by four airlines.
- By train, the nearest Amtrak station is in Atlanta, 114 miles distance.
- By car, Chattanooga lies at the intersection of I75 and I24. The museum is 31 miles north of Dalton, GA. and 105 miles south of Knoxville.