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lies on the Moccasin Bend of the Tennessee River. The seat of Hamilton County, it has a population of approximately 167,670, making it the fourth largest city in Tennessee. Chat-to-to-noog-gee is a Creek word meaning "mountain rising to a point," which refers to nearby Lookout Mountain. The city gained international fame with the 1941 recording of "Chattanooga Choo Choo" by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra.

location of Chattanooga


Inhabited for thousands of years, the area that is now occupied by Chattanooga was home to the Chickamauga branch of the Cherokee when the first Americans arrived. In 1816, John Ross, a Chickamauga chief, opened a trading post called Ross' Landing that consisted of a ferry, warehouse, and river landing. With the organization of Hamilton County in 1819, Ross' Landing served not only the Cherokee trade but also as a convenient business center for the county. In 1838, Cherokee parties left from Ross' Landing for the West on what became known as the Trail of Tears. The town that grew up around Ross' Landing was incorporated as Chattanooga in 1839, and was chartered as a city in 1851.

Because of Chattanoog's strategic location, some of the hardest fought and most complex battles of the Civil War happened during the fall of 1863 on Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. During the Chickamauga Campaign, Union artillery bombarded Chattanooga as a diversion and occupied it on September 9, 1863. Following the Battle of Chickamauga, the defeated Union Army retreated to safety in Chattanooga. On November 23, 1863, the Battles for Chattanooga began when Union forces led by Major General Ulysses S. Grant reinforced troops at Chattanooga and advanced to Orchard Knob against Confederate troops besieging the city. The next day, the Battle of Lookout Mountain was fought, driving the Confederates off the mountain. On November 25, Grant's army routed the Confederates in the Battle of Missionary Ridge.

After the war ended, the city became a major railroad hub and industrial and manufacturing center. It did not, however, become a major population center until after the Tennessee Valley Authority began electrifying the region.

downtown Chattanooga


Chattanooga's economy includes a mix of manufacturing and service industries.The world's first Coca-Cola bottling plant still operates in Chattanooga, and the city is also home to the world's only Altoids breath mints manufacturing facility. Other companies with manufacturing or distribution facilities in the city include DuPont, Alco Chemical, and Volkswagen.

Road transport in and out of Chattanooga is provided by interstates 75, 24, and 59. Chattanooga and portions of Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia is served by the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport.


Chattanooga has a mayor-council form of government. The City Council is comprised of members from nine districts, elected from single-member districts in partisan elections, while the Mayor is elected at large.


Public education is directed by the Hamilton County School System. Chattanooga is home to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga State Community College, and Tennessee Temple University.

Sites and Attractions

the Chattanooga Choo Choo

The Chattanooga Choo Choo Terminal Train Station Complex includes the Southern Railway Terminal (built in 1908), a hotel, shops, restaurants, and the original Chattanooga Choo Choo (the one which inspired the Glenn Miller song).

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, the first and largest Civil War park in the country, preserves the sites of the two battles fought in and around Chattanooga. It was established through the efforts of Civil War veterans, who came together from both armies in 1889 for the express purpose of preserving the battlefields.

The Hunter Museum of American Art showcases 100 years of architecture and houses the finest collection of American art in the Southeast. The collection spans the history of American art from the colonial period to the present day, and covers a wide variety of media.

The International Towing and Recovery Museum and Hall of Fame reminds visitors that the world's first tow truck was created in Chattanooga in 1916.

Ross' Landing Park and Plaza encompasses a four-acre area surrounding the Tennessee Aquarium and overlooking the Tennessee River and scenic landscapes. The park includes green spaces, a playground, a pier, and The Passage, an area where people can play in water cascading down steps alongside six-foot clay medallions set into the wall representing specific aspects of the Cherokee tribe's history.

Other major Chattanooga sites include: Bessie Smith Cultural Center, Chattanooga African American Museum, Chattanooga History Center, Chattanooga Zoo, Creative Discovery Museum, Houston Museum of Creative Arts, National Medal of Honor Museum, and Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum.

Chattanooga hosts the well-known Riverbend Festival, an annual nine-day music festival held in June in the downtown area. One of the most popular events is the "Bessie Smith Strut", a one-night showcase of blues and jazz music named for the city's most noted blues singer.

The Chattanooga Lookouts is a Class AA Southern League baseball team affiliated with the Minnesota Twins. The city is also home to the Chattanooga Rugby Football Club, the Tennessee Crush and the Chattanooga Steam (semi-professional football teams), and Chattanooga FC (a semi-professional soccer team).

Chattanooga Visitors Bureau

Trail of Tears
Civil War
Ulysses S. Grant

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The Robinson Library >> American History >> United States: Local History and Description >> Old Southwest >> Tennessee

This page was last updated on April 10, 2018.