Day 1 You'll See:
- Incline Railway
- Battle of Chattanooga Museum
- Point Park
- Gordon-Lee Mansion
- Chickamauga Chattanooga National Military Park
- Buttonwillow Church Civil War Dinner Theater
Day 2 You’ll See:
- Chattanooga National Cemetery
- Coolidge Park
Southern Tennessee has so many historical and cultural landmarks to offer, it’s hard to find time to see them all! Adventure Student Travel is here for you with the perfect two day plan to see the most impressive, relevant, and popular Civil War era historical sites and landmarks. Along the way through the gorgeous Smoky Mountain battlefield sites you will have the chance to learn more about the local culture, take in the scenery, and eat the best Southern cuisine! There’s something for everybody in your group on this trip, and you are going to love the opportunity to relax and learn something new!
Incline Railway - Start your trip off with “America’s Most Amazing Mile,” located within Lookout Mountain, experienced fully with the Incline Railway. In 1895 visitors from far and wide would pay $2 for a 4 hour buggy ride up the mountain, but in 1911 a broader gauge pass railway was built and the Incline Railway was born. Originally a coal burning steam engine, this railway is now powered by two 100 horsepower motors. Considered to be the world’s steepest passenger railway, this ride in a trolley style car takes you up a 72.7% grade, giving you the best mountain and valley views from the observation windows along the way. At the top your group will have the chance to see the most amazing panoramic views from the Observation Tower. The Incline Railway is registered as a National Historic Site as well as a Mechanical Engineering Landmark, with millions of riders being impressed throughout its history. At the top your group can explore the civil war points and museum, and at the bottom you can take advantage of all the small town shops and restaurants. Be sure to check out the machine room on the ride to have a unique view of the giant gears in motion!
Battles of Chattanooga Museum - Another history rich stop on Lookout Mountain is at the entrance toward Point Park, called the Battles of Chattanooga Museum. This museum provides an excellent 3D electronic battle map of the Chattanooga Civil War history. This whole map includes 5,000 mini soldiers, 650 lights, sound effects, and exceptional details of major battles . With this map your group will be able to hear and see the “Battle Above the Clouds,” fought in November 1863. This location’s history involves General Sherman’s assault on Missionary Ridge before his historic March to the Sea. Experience the battles as they were fought over 130 years ago as you learn how Grant got involved right here and changed the outcome of the Civil War, as this was the beginning of the end that sealed the fate of the Confederacy. Inside the museum you will see excellent relics and weapon collections, as well as have the opportunity to peruse the extensive bookstore for well-known war works.
Point Park - Your next stop will be at the top of Lookout Mountain, at the Point Park Battle Site. This historic area is technically located within the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park and is the official site of the Civil War Battle known as the “Battle Above the Clouds.” During the height of the war control of the "gateway to the deep south" was a very high priority, and in 1863 confederate and union soldiers partook in a 3-day battle for control. The fog on the mountains provided a great cover for takeover, and the full battle took place on November 24th, the union soldiers coming out victorious. Your group will have a chance to walk around the site and also explore the Visitor Center. Within the center you will see a 33’ by 13’ mural painted by James Walker, an eyewitness to the infamous battle. You will also have the chance to see several different short audio visual presentations about the mural and the battle in general. This stop is a fantastic combination of historic and geographic wonders all in one!
Gordon-Lee Mansion - Welcome to the Gordon Lee Mansion, located within Lee & Gordon Mills. This classic antebellum beauty of a home was completed in 1847, and was used for extensive Civil War related operations in its heyday. The mansion was used as union headquarters, as well as a confederate hospital during the Battle of Chickamauga. General Rosecrans called this place home for awhile, and it is actually the only remaining structure from the battle left in this location. In 1836 these structures surrounding the mansion were used as a grist mill and general store by Mr. James Gordon, and now the site has grown into a successful spring and summer touring ground. Besides the scenic tours the mansion offers, it is also mainly used as a wedding venue, providing picture perfect weddings, holiday parties, and photo shoots. A walk around these grounds will send you back into another century, as you explore every inch of this National Historic Site, from the walls of the general store to the war memorabilia left in the mansion!
Chickamauga Chattanooga National Military Park - Another essential Civil War stop atop the mountains is the Chickamauga Chattanooga National Military Park. This 5,300 acre park contains the sites of two major Civil War battles: the Chickamauga Battle and the Chattanooga Campaign. The park was officially dedicated in 1895 and is one of the first four national military parks in the nation. It is actually the first and largest, establishing and developing what many of the other parks are based upon. The park was once the site of George H. Thomas’s training camp as well, used during the Spanish American War. While here your group will have a chance to see the 150 mile front vistas from the observation tower and follow tactical details of the actual battle. You will be immersed in the fight for the gateway to the South and important rail road access, as well as see first hand the formidable natural obstacles such as forests, mountains, fields, and streams that both armies had to overcome. Explore the 1,400 monuments and markers that make this park like no other of this quality and magnitude!
Buttonwillow Church Civil War Dinner Theater - End your night with one final “step back into 1864” as you and your group settle in for the Buttonwillow Church Civil War Dinner Theater. This 25 year old original dinner theater has been featured on the History Channel, Travel Channel, and PBS and has also received a 5-star rating for historical entertainment. Located in Whitwell (40 minutes from Chattanooga) this play is filled with American history with a Southern humor twist. “Granddaddy’s Watch” is based on actual events and takes pride in providing a balanced look at both sides. The owners firmly believe that political correctness has no place in history and support the cold hard facts within this moving, true, and humorous approach to a darker chapter in U.S. history. Enjoy a true antebellum style dinner at the Jefferson Davis Dining Hall as you watch the die hard Tennessee unionist run into his confederate brother, both struggling to understand each other’s view of saving the South. You will be chowing down on Savannah baked chicken and Louisiana bayou cornbread stuffing from the table of Varina Davis, the first lady of the confederacy while laughing the night away. This dinner and show will undoubtedly impress and enthrall every member of your group!
Chattanooga National Cemetery - Start your day off at the Chattanooga National Cemetery, a cemetery commemorating the battles of Chattanooga of 1863. This cemetery was ordered by General George H. Thomas as a place to inter union soldiers who fell in combat. Originally a 75 acre plot of land was obtained, facing Missionary Ridge on one side and Lookout Mountain on the other. General Grant actually used this as his headquarters during the epic three day battle of this area. In 1870 there were over 12,800 interments, between battle fallen men, unknown men from the area, and even 78 German prisoners. The entrance to the park features a 40 inch high masonry archway created in 1868, a formal Southern entrance, as well as a monument dedicated to the German POW’s. Today the cemetery is up to 120 acres and 50,000 interments. While here be sure your group saves time to check out the unique Andrew Raiders Monument, created in 1890 and featuring a granite base and bronze replica of "The General," a wood burning locomotive famous for its Great Chase in 1862. Architecture and history lovers alike will truly appreciate this war based cemetery and national historic place!
Coolidge Park - Downtown Chattanooga has one more stop in store for your group, as you spend your afternoon exploring the waterfront Coolidge Park. This park on the north shore of the city impresses upon your group an excellent view of the Tennessee River as well the large expanse of downtown excitement. Coolidge Park was created in 1999 and consists of 13 gorgeous green acres of land. While here you will have the chance to play in the famous interactive water fountain, stroll the world’s largest pedestrian bridge (Walnut Street Bridge), hone your rock climbing skills, enjoy a relaxing picnic, or admire the historic Military Memorial on site. The namesake of this park is Charlie Coolidge, a Medal of Honor recipient from WWII. This park is adjacent to several local art, entertainment, shopping, and eating venues, and is even used as a venue for live entertainment quite often. Be sure to save plenty of time to hike, kayak, canoe, or just play around as you take in the gorgeous Tennessee sights and historic landmarks here at Coolidge!