Mo & Terry Smedley


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Smoky Mountain Rail Tour
June, 2009

Part II - Chattanooga, Rock City, Incline Railway, Ruby Falls, TVRR Missionary Ridge Route

Our hotel in Chattanooga is the Holiday Inn ChooChoo, which is in the old Chattanooga train station.    The beautiful dome has been restored as the main hotel lobby.  This picture was "stitched" together out of eight individual pictures to give an extreme wide-angle view both horizontally and vertically. Outside is a (non-functional) 2-6-0 that is the namesake of the old Chatttanooga ChooChoo song.
There's a large model railroad (HO scale) exhibit at the hotel.  I took just a few pictures of some of the more detailed scenery on the layout.     It's "ChooChoo Time" at the hotel.
We walked about 1.5 miles to the waterfront (on the Tennessee River), and found that "cardboard sledding" down the steep grass hill was a very popular activity.  This is Rock City, a very popular (and historic) tourist stop on Lookout Mountain above Chattanooga. This is looking down the upper falls from the stone bride you can see in the picture to the left.  The location of the falls is natural, but the water flow has been significantly augmented for effect. The brochures say you can see seven states from the viewpoint.  Perhaps on an exceptionally clear day with the help of a spotting scope.
Mo was trying to find all seven states. The ever-popular head poke sign. One of the narrow passageways.  If you look closely at the sign towards the top, you'll see the tight spot is named "Fat Man Squeeze". Mo slipped through with no difficulty, but a little claustrophobia.
  There's an underground "Fairyland" towards the end of the trail through Rock City.  You should be able to identify the children's stories depicted.  (Hint:  how many bears are in this picture?) There are several stories here.  Check out the cow flying over the moon. A boy in blue, a cow in cornstalks. 
To get down from Rock City and Lookout Mountain, we took the Inclined Railroad.  This is the steepest passenger railway in the world, with a maximum grade of 72.7%.  The railway is about one mile in length, and it takes about 10 minutes to make the trip up or down. Here I am waiting for a car to come down the mountain. The railway uses the usual two-car balanced operation - one car goes up when the other goes down.  There is a passing track at the mid-way point.
Our next stop was at Ruby Falls, site of an impressive underground falls.  But first, I enjoyed this Windows error message parked on the overhead monitors at the entrance.  If you look closely, you can also see that 97 degrees is the expected high temperature this day. After walking about 0.6 miles through a limestone cave, you reach the falls, which have a drop of 145 feet.  These falls, unlike those at Rock City, are not enhanced with extra water volume. You enter the cave through an elevator that takes you down 260 feet.  By the time you walk 0.6 miles back into the mountain, you are 1120 feet below the surface of the mountain. You can get a better idea of the scale of the falls in this picture which includes some people in silhouette.
Our next stop on this very busy day was at the Tennessee Valley Railroad for a fairly short trip on the Missionary Ridge Local.   Our car's segregated heritage has been preserved -  this was the white end.... ....opposite the colored end. This sign describes this kind of segregated car, commonly referred to as a "Jim Crow car". The train crew arranged a "run by" for our group.  Here you can see the photo line waiting for the train to come by.
At East Chattanooga, the locomotive is turned on a turntable for the return trip.  The locomotive is driven onto the turntable... ...turned 180 degrees... ...and driven off. We were scheduled to have steam power, but the steam locomotive (off to the right) was in the shops for repairs this day. 
This is the interior of the busy Tennessee Valley Railroad shops.  Several locomotives can be seen in various states of repair or rebuild. Boiler tubes inside a locomotive that is being rebuilt by the TVRR. This rail line (and the tunnel through Missionary Ridge) was hotly contested during the Civil War.  Chattanooga was (and still is) a major rail hub to and from points further South, and controlling rail transportation into and out of Chattanooga was a key part of the strategies of both Union and Confederate armies. Me at the Grand Junction station of the TVRR, where we started and ended our rail trip today.