Fast facts about Tennessee’s storied city of Chattanooga:

  • The German connection: Chattanooga, nestled between the Appalachian Mountains and the Cumberland Plateau along the Tennessee River, could be mistaken for parts of Germany. It’s the sister city of Hamm, Germany, and home to a thriving German American Club.
  • Long a railroad center, it’s currently served by CSX and Norfolk Southern. It gained major fame in 1941 when the Glenn Miller Orchestra recorded a new song, “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” featured in “Sun Valley Serenade,” a movie starring skating queen Sonja Henie. The song was written by Mack Gordon and Henry Warren while they were traveling south by train and tells the fictitious story of riding on the “Choo Choo” from New York to Chattanooga. It sold millions and has been recorded by dozens of singers and orchestras.
  • 6The Choo Choo lives on: A domed train station was built by the Southern Railway in 1908. The last passenger train left in 1970, and in 1973 the station became a hotel and restaurant venue. Today it serves as the Holiday Inn Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Adolph Ochs, founder of The New York Times, got his start as owner of The Chattanooga Times, which survives today as The Chattanooga Times Free Press.
  • Chattanooga was settled by Cherokee Indians at the base of nearby Lookout Mountain. Legend says the name is Cherokee for “the big catch,” alluding to fishing on the Tennessee River. The Cherokees were ousted and forced to relocate to Oklahoma during 1838.
  • Civil War battles of Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge were fought in the area in 1863, with Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant finally winning the day.
  • Among notables associated with Chattanooga are U.S. Sens. Howard Baker, Estes Kefauver and Bob Corker (former mayor); NFL star quarterback Peyton Manning; CNN founder Ted Turner; and TV actor Dennis Haskins.