CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – During the Civil War, the railroad was vital to Chattanooga, bringing supplies to the troops stationed in the city and also transporting reinforcements to nearby destinations. In April 1862, Chattanooga was the destination of the failed Andrews Raid — a Union raid aimed at destroying the Western & Atlantic Railroad that served the city.
Over the years, a number of major railroads served the city, including the Cincinnati Southern Railway, which on March 5, 1880, operated a southbound that departed Cincinnati bound for Chattanooga that was nicknamed Chattanooga Choo Choo, or so the story goes. During its heyday, the station had 14 tracks to serve the 68 trains that arrived and departed daily.
Chattanooga’s immortality as a railroad town was cemented in the history books with the release of Glenn Miller’s “Chattanooga Choo Choo” – a song he recorded in 1941 for the film “Sun Valley Serenade.” The song topped the Hit Parade chart, selling more than a million copies.
Today the famous train station is a Holiday Inn, and the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel boasts more than 360 rooms and suites. Of those, 48 rooms are located in restored train cars. There are also a number of restaurants and shops on the terminal station’s grounds. Other amenities include tennis courts and outdoor pools.
“This milestone gives us the opportunity to look back and celebrate our incredible past while also focusing on the new and exciting future of our timeless attraction,” Jim Bambrey, general manager of the Chattanooga Choo Choo, said in a news release.
“The Choo Choo has attracted visitors from all over the world who repeatedly come back to stay with us,” Bambrey said. “They love the nostalgia of the experience and we want to continue to provide the ambiance of the 100-year old Terminal Station.”
While trains no longer serve the station, visitors can hop a 1924 New Orleans trolley to tour the 24-acre hotel.