ExploreSouthernHistory.com - C
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Co
The complex brings to life the song made famous by
Glenn Miller and is a great place to explore the
railroad history of the South!
Terminal Station is listed on
the National Register of
Historic Places and holds a
special place in musical lore.
The wood-burning locomotive
on display at Terminal Station
today is of the type that began
the Cincinnati to Chattanooga
run on March 5, 1880.
Chattanooga Choo-Choo - Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga's Terminal Station
|Copyright 2013 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Updated: May 4, 2013
Historic Trains of the South
The old Terminal Station is
now part of a complex that
includes a hotel, shopping,
dining and entertainment
Hotel on Rails
Guests at Chattanooga Choo-
Choo can sleep aboard one
of 48 Victorian train cars
(standard hotel rooms are
Built in 1909, historic Terminal Station in
Chattanooga preserves the legacy of the
popular Glenn Miller song, "Chattanooga
The location at 1400 Market Street holds a
special place in Chattanooga, Tennessee,
Southern and American history. Trains first
began rolling past the site in 1849 when the
Western & Atlantic Railroad reached
In 1861, when Tennessee joined the other
Southern states in forming a new nation - the
Confederate States of America - the Western
& Atlantic became a lifeline of the republic.
Trains moving along the railroad carried
troops, supplies, cannon and provisions
through the North Georgia mountains to and
from Atlanta and beyond.
The massive Battle of Chickamauga, fought
on the southern outskirts of Chattanooga,
prevented for a time the capture of the line by
Union troops. The city itself fell to the Federal
army, however, and on November 24-25,
1863, General Ulysses S. Grant's soldiers
took Lookout Mountain and Missionary
Ridge, driving back General Braxton Bragg
and the Confederate Army of Tennessee.
General William Tecumseh Sherman then
drove south from Chattanooga the following
year, making the Western & Atlantic his
lifeline for supplies in the Atlanta Campaign.
The future Georgia capital city fell to Sherman
on September 2, 1864 and the Confederacy
As Southerners began to rebuild after the
Civil War, many wealthy Northerners flooded
down in search of commercial opportunity.
Cities like Chattanooga attracted them in
One of these entrepreneurs was John
Stanton of Boston, Massachusetts. In 1870,
he spent $100,000 to build a magnificent
hotel called the Stanton House on the site of
today's Terminal Station. The five-story hotel
hosted a visit by President Rutherford B.
Hays in 1877.
Despite its opulence, however, the hotel did
not survive. Its builder had speculated that
Chattanooga would grow to the south and
away from its beloved riverfront, but in this he
was disappointed. The Southern Railway
bought the property in 1905 for $71,500 and
its disappointed owner went home to Boston.
The Stanton House was demolished the
following year to make way for the Terminal
Station, a magnificent railroad station
completed in 1909.
Designed by architect Don Barber, the station
resembled the National Park Bank of New
York City. A New Yorker himself, Barber had
won a prize offered by the Paris Beaux Arts
Institute for the best design of a railroad
station for a large city. He was at the top of
his field when hired by the Southern Railway
to prepare plans for Chattanooga's Terminal
Opened to the public on December 1, 1909,
the station welcomed as many as 50 trains
per day to Chattanooga during the heyday of
passenger travel on the railroads.
Sadly, Americans lost their fascination with
travel by rail and the last passenger train
rolled into the Terminal Station on August 11,
1970. The station was closed.
The era of railroad travel to Chattanooga,
however, was not forgotten. In 1941 famed
orchestra leader Glenn Miller recorded a big
band foxtrot tune titled "Chattanooga Choo-
Choo." It was an instant hit.
Even as World War II loomed on the horizon,
Americans danced to the song and its lyrics
became part of the national memory:
"Pardon me boy, is that the Chattanooga
Choo-Choo?" opens a song that for many
symbolizes not just a generation of
Americans, but the heyday of passenger
trains and railroad travel.
The song was based on the train that ran
from Cincinnati to Chattanooga. The route
was initiated on March 5, 1880, and over its
history carried untold hundreds of thousands
of passengers to the booming city on the
Tennessee River. A newspaper reporter
dubbed it the "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" and
the now famous "Track 29" on which it
traveled carried it to Terminal Station.
Watch Miller play the song at the top right!
Saved from destruction by a group of
businessmen, Terminal Station today is the
centerpiece of a railroad themed hotel and
entertainment complex. Visitors can see a
locomotive of the type made famous by the
song, while visiting the historic station to
enjoy shopping, dining, entertainment and
even hotel accommodations aboard
authentic Victorian train cars. The complex
also is home to a model railroad museum.
Chattanooga Choo-Choo is located at 1400
Market Street in Chattanooga, Tennessee,
and is open to the public daily.
Please click here for reservations and more
|Photos by Brian Mabelitini