Missionary Ridge Local

I am happy to say that, as a train lover, I have finally taken a ride on the Tennessee Valley Railroad.

A few weeks ago we rode the Missionary Ridge Local, which is a one hour train ride that travels through Missionary Ridge with a stop at the East Chattanooga Depot.

I am not quite sure what happened the weekend we were there, but there were some amendments to our trip. For starters, the steam engine is supposed to run on weekends, but we ended up with a diesel engine. This disappointed me, but this is just another excuse to go on another train ride someday. There is also supposed to be a short tour of the shop, next to the East Chattanooga Depot, but this did not occur on our ride. I am not sure why.

One thing I did enjoy was the turntable demonstration at the East Chattanooga Depot. The conductor was knowledgeable and explained the whole process while the engine turned around to prepare for the trip back. The conductor told everyone that this turntable is one of only a few in the United States. I was giddy when hearing this, because I know of another one, in Frostburg Maryland, in use by the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, which my parents both work for.

The train passed through some neighborhoods, as well as over Chickamagua Creek and through Missionary Ridge Tunnel, a tunnel dated to before the Civil War.

Commentary was provided throughout the trip about the local history and what we were seeing through the windows.

Chattanooga has a rich railroad history, especially during the Civil War. The area became a railroad hub in the 1850s. During the Civil War, both sides recognized the importance of holding onto the city, for its railroad lines. There was the infamous “Great Locomotive Chase” during the Civil War, organized by civilian James Andrews, in which he and Union soldiers captured a locomotive, The General, in Georgia, in order to destroy as much of the Western and Atlantic Railroad on the way to Chattanooga. They were eventually captured, and now there is a monument and grave sites dedicated to those men in Chattanooga’s National Cemetery. When Chattanooga was captured by the Union in 1863, it was called the “Death Knell of the Confederacy,” undoubtedly because of the importance of the railroad.

The train depot from where we left, Grand Junction, has a nice gift shop and a deli as well.

After the train ride, we walked through the collection of train cars and engines that are on display.

I admit, I’ve been on better train rides. Maybe I’m spoiled because as a kid, I’ve frequently rode in the First Class Parlor car, the Marian, on the Strasburg Railroad. However, I still enjoyed this trip. I am looking forward to longer rides, such as a dinner train, or the Chickamauga Turn, which is a six hour ride with a layover in Chickamauga.

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About to enter the 1858 Missionary Ridge Tunnel.
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Passing the shop as we were pulling into the East Chattanooga Depot.
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The engine takes a spin on the turntable.
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At the East Chattanooga Depot. I loved the little set up they had, complete with chickens!
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The inside of our car.
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One of the engines on display outside the Grand Junction depot.

A few hours in Ringgold, Georgia

After we finished blueberry picking in LaFayette, we were kind of hungry, and a drink was due. Derek Googled coffee shops in the area. He asked me if we had been to either Ringgold or Chickamauga before, and which town would I rather go to. I said no to both, and to pick whichever.

And so we ended up in Ringgold for a couple of hours. The town surprised us in a good way. We will more than likely go back there again.

We had a light lunch at Caffeine Addicts. I did not take any photos here, oops! I always get a chai wherever I go, since I do not like coffee. Usually chai doesn’t change too much from place to place, however, Caffeine Addicts featured toffee nut flavored syrup, a flavor I had not seen before. My go-to is usually hazelnut┬ásyrup. It was so good! I would definitely come back just to have that syrup.

Also, the people who worked there were wearing masks, and every other table was closed off. We were there before noon, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

We headed a few doors down to the cutest store front, A Fern and a Feather General Store. Derek bought moonshine jelly and muscadine cider (non alcoholic) and I bought a spoon holder for my tea that says “Today’s good mood brought to you by tea.”

If you’ve been reading for a while now, you probably know I love Civil War history. The Great Locomotive Chase ended in Ringgold. A group of Union men, led by civilian James A. Andrews, stole a train with the intention of running it to Chattanooga, damaging the railroad tracks in the process. The locomotive ran out of fuel in Ringgold, and the men fled on foot. Many of them were later put on trial and were executed.

We checked out the Ringgold Depot, which was closed at the time. We waited for a few minutes to see if a train would come through, but no luck. We drove about a half mile down the tracks until we came to the General monument. The General is the name of the locomotive that the men stole. I’m glad I texted my dad that we were there, and he gave us directions to the monument!

We will definitely come to Ringgold again, because someday I hope to do an entire Great Locomotive Chase day trip, stopping at each of the railroad stations and towns along the way.

Our last two stops in Ringgold were two antique shops that were next to each other. The one was called Cotton Gin Antiques, named for the business that was established by the Callaway brothers in 1929. The outside of it was so cool looking! It is a treasure trove for people who like to hunt for old items.

Ringgold Feed and Seed Antiques was next door. We were on the hunt for a basket to put on our table by the front door; a place to put our masks and hand sanitizer. We found one that looks great with our overall house decor. By the way, while we were there, that was when the train chose to come through! Oh well.

Ringgold is a nice little town, and there was plenty more that we did not check out during our time there. Because it’s only a half hour away, I am sure we will come back sometime for a half-day getaway. 

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A Fern and a Feather General Store
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The Ringgold Depot
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Monument for The General, the locomotive that was stolen by Union men.
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The Cotton Gin Antiques
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There were cats at the antique store. I love this shot! Do you think this makes a good advertisement for Coca-Cola?
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One of the rooms of The Cotton Gin Antiques.

Civil War history at the Chattanooga National Cemetery

We walked around the Chattanooga National Cemetery on Friday. The cemetery was established in 1863, as a place to bury Union Civil War soldiers after the Battles of Chattanooga.

It was a beautiful, somber place. We have been to Arlington National Cemetery, and it felt similar, yet different because of the surrounding mountains.

We made a special stop to see the Andrews Raiders Memorial, which features a bronze statue of The General locomotive, featured in the Great Locomotive Chase of 1862.

From Wikipedia: “The Great Locomotive Chase, or Andrew’s Raid was a military raid that occurred on April 12, 1862, in northern Georgia during the American Civil War. Volunteers from the Union Army, led by civilian scout James J. Andres, commandeered a train, The General, and took it northward toward Chattanooga, Tennessee, doing as much damage as possible to the vital Western and Atlantic Railroad line from Atlanta to Chattanooga as they went. They were pursued by Confederate forces at first on foot, and later on a succession of locomotives, including The Texas, for 87 miles.

Because the Union men had cut the telegraph wires, the Confederates could not send warnings ahead to forces along the railway. Confederates eventually captured the raiders and quickly executed some as spies, including Andrews; some others were able to flee. Some of the raiders were the first to be awarded the Medal of Honor by the US Congress for their actions. As a civilian, Andrews was not eligible.”

I had only vaguely known about the Locomotive Chase up until this point. I am enjoying living in a new area, and learning about its history.

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The Andrews Raiders Monument
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Some of the men who were executed for their part in the Andrews Raid. They all have the same death date as June 18. The light blue flag means they are Medal of Honor recipients.
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A front facing shot of the Andrews’ Raiders monument. In this photo, in the bottom left, you can see the headstone for James J. Andrews, who lead the raid. It is labeled “civilian.”

Chattanooga Choo Choo

“Pardon me boy, is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo?
Track twenty nine! Boy you can gimme a shine
Can you afford to board a Chattanooga Choo Choo?
I’ve got my fare and just a trifle to spare
You leave the Pennsylvania station ’bout a quarter to four
Read a magazine and then you’re in Baltimore
Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer
Than to have your ham ‘n’ eggs in Carolina
When you hear the whistle blowin’ eight to the bar
Then you know that Tennessee is not very far
Shovel all the coal in, gotta keep it rollin’
Woo, woo, Chattanooga, there you are…”

I quickly learned the words to Glen Miller’s Chattanooga Choo Choo when I found out that we were moving to Chattanooga! My dad loves trains (he works as a breakman on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad as a retirement job) and he instilled that love in me. Seeing the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel was at the top of my to-do list in Chattanooga.

The hotel is in an old train terminal building which was built in 1906. It was supposed to be demolished, but it was saved and restored. Now, it is a beautiful hotel, and much more. There are shops and restaurants attached with a garden out back, and of course, the famed “Choo Choo.”

We explored the grounds this morning, and had brunch in the Frothy Monkey, which is a coffee shop attached off the lobby. It was a great morning. My parents are coming to visit in a few weeks, and I’ll be glad to get the chance to go back again so soon.

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