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Chattanooga Choo Choo

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While all of the accommodation options in the Chattanooga area possess their own unique flavor and flair, I enjoyed one that is truly a one-of-a-kind experience which ties into the city’s history as a major railroad hub in the 1850s – The Chattanooga Choo-Choo!

Chattanooga became a major railroad hub in the 1850s, encompassing several busy lines including the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroads, East Tennessee & Georgia, Memphis & Charleston and Western & Atlantic.

In 1908 the now world-famous Chattanooga Choo Choo Terminal Station was built, and was etched in American lore forever in 1941 in the movie Sun Valley Serenade with the big band hit, “Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” by the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

The demise of the railroads also became the demise of the station, but in the early 1970s it was resurrected and renovated into a beautiful and unique combination tourist attraction and hotel.

Today the “Choo Choo,” as everyone calls it, is the only Historic Hotels of America resort in the state. The highlight of the structure is its dome, the former railroad terminal – the largest freestanding brick dome in the world with an interior height of 85 feet. The dome is now the architecturally impressive hotel lobby with beautiful detailing, expansive windows, delicate woodwork and vintage signage about the former rail lines.

Lodging guests have the option of staying in the hotel’s suites, standard rooms, or my experience, in one of the 48 Victorian train cars. The hotel did a wonderful job of transforming these vintage cars which carried passengers all over the United States into comfortable sleeping accommodations that still maintain their original design and charm, including the light switches and luggage racks lining both sides of the car! In fact, the cars still rest on the original tracks.

In the center of the train cars is a beautiful garden complex with the only All American Rose Selection Garden in Tennessee, oodles of verdant and odiferous plants and flowers, statuary, a Victorian- style gazebo with a copper roof and brass and copper weathervane, winding paths and fountains.

The property also encompasses several pools, a restaurant, coffee shop, several gift shops and horse-drawn carriage rides on some evenings.

Written by Lysa Allman-Baldwin


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