Dateline: Chattanooga, TN
After yesterday’s grueling drive, I decided to spend a day in Chattanooga. It was a day well-spent. In the morning, I rested, replied to comments, caught up with friends, and ran some errands. I also did a bit of truck maintenance which I had been planning to do, including washing off all the salt, and replacing the air filter. Wow! I’ve never seen a dirtier air filter. To boot, there were the remains of a rather ample mouse nest in the airbox, and I’m frankly a little surprised the truck ran as well as it did. Needless to say, it’s now running WAY better, and I suspect I will be repaid with higher fuel mileage. It already seems peppier.
Then I had a quick boxed sushi lunch, and plotted my next move. In the past couple of years, I have come to rely heavily on TripAdvisor when traveling. It has become an incredibly easy way to find good restaurants, points of interest, and a good place for hotel reviews. It did not let me down this time.
Among the top points of interest for Chattanooga are: the Tennessee Aquarium, the world’s largest freshwater aquarium; “Lookout Mountain,” which features a beautiful view of downtown, a waterfall, and a train; and The Walnut Street Bridge, one of the finest examples of the Phoenix wrought-iron truss bridges that were built between 1884 and 1923. While the aquarium held a certain appeal, I vetoed it on the grounds that it would be indoors, and had little to do with the local area. Such a thing could be located anywhere. Lookout Mountain held a lot of appeal, though I’m somewhat turned off by the idea of paying admission to a mountaintop. But I headed over toward it with the idea that it would be my main destination. Fortunately, destiny intervened. As I drove Northwest on Highway 24, I crossed a gap in the hills, and before me lay the city spread out in a fantastic panorama. Well, I’m a sucker for vistas, so I took the nearest exit and tried to make my way to the top of the hill I had just crossed. I was lucky, and very shortly made my way to South Crest Road, where I was able to take a photo of the entire city, and where I encountered the Bragg Reservation, a civil war monument commemorating the ferocious battle for Chattanooga which had taken place right there.
According to the National Park Service:
Crest Road runs the entire length of the line occupied by the Confederates during the Battle of Missionary Ridge. Small reservations, markers, monuments, tablets, and gun positions along the road provide information, and excellent views of Chattanooga are obtained along this drive. Moving northward the more important units of the park are: Bragg Reservation, where the Confederate commander had his headquarters; Ohio Reservation, an area set aside to commemorate the participation of Ohio troops in the battle; DeLong Reservation, site of one of the Union penetrations in the Confederate line; and Sherman Reservation, where Sherman’s forces unsuccessfully attacked the north end of the Confederate line.
A plaque commemorates the war dead. As you can see, it was a bloody battle. While the Union forces won, it came at great cost. An interesting fact is that the Confederates had a difficult time stopping the Union forces due to the steepness of the hill. They could not aim their cannons so low, so the Union forces were able to storm up the hill with little cannon fire to deal with.
But as you can see, both sides had massive losses.
Today the neighborhood around Bragg Reservation is a rather posh place, with beautiful houses, and one of the most impressive mansions I’ve ever seen. It’s for sale if you fancy it.
While wandering around, I met a woman walking her chihuahua and stopped to chat. She recommended several destinations, including the South Side, scene of Chattanooga’s up-and-coming hip scene. So we descended the hill to have a look.
The area is graced by a large number of handsome, 19th century brick buildings, many of which are either renovated or undergoing renovation. The city has obviously worked to upgrade the area as there is extensive public art including murals and sculptures. We had a field day wandering around taking photos.
The city’s magnificent old railroad station has been converted into a hotel. The rails running between the platforms have been removed and replaced with formal, hedged gardens. Several trains have been left and converted to rooms. The entire property is beautiful, and were I to make a special trip here, it would be great place to stay.
The lobby is magnificent.
Finally, I had dinner at the Terminal Brewhouse, which had excellent beer, good service, and decent food. It’s located in a cool, triangular footprint building.
Tomorrow I drive south toward the Gulf of Mexico. Saludos!