Is that the Chattanooga Choo-Choo?


I must have grown up hearing the Chattanooga Choo-Choo song, as I know most of the lyrics and can sing along with it. It was written in 1941 and was most famously performed by Glenn Miller and his orchestra.

On a recent family road trip which took us through several southern states, including Tennessee, we stopped off in Chattanooga to see the choo-choo and go to the top of Lookout Mountain, site of a battle in the American Civil War. Lookout Mountain was mentioned by Martin Luther King, in one of his speeches during the Civil Rights campaign, as one of the high places in the Deep South where human and civil rights would be proclaimed. Its summit is reached by a mile-high incline railway of national and historical significance because of the mechanical engineering involved.

The choo-choo is probably not the original, but it gives a pretty good impression of what trains were like in the heyday of  American railroads. Chattanooga was a significant destination for passengers and freight travelling from Cincinatti in the north to the southern states.


Terminal Station, where the choo-choo reached the end of the line, was built in 1909. It’s a grand building, now a hotel. It ceased to be a station in the 1970s and it’s in a variable state of repair, with some areas quite smart while others are awaiting  attention. The main concourse is impressive, with many of the original features preserved.

I discovered it was impossible to visit this place without singing the Chattanooga Choo-Choo song. Now I’ve written about it I shall have it running through my head for a while like a bad case of earworm.

Having visited Chattanooga I now know how to spell it – with a double “t” and “o”. The rules for spelling Tennessee are similar; by the time we reached the Mississippi, sorting that one out was a doddle!


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