Chattanooga is renowned for its battlegrounds, and famed Choo Choo, but there’s more to the Scenic City! Here are 25 of our favorite historical facts about Chattanooga. 

  1. The Big Nine– Blues legend Bessie Smith began her career busking on the streets in the 9th Street District. Learn about this vibrant chapter of Chattanooga’s musical history at The Bessie Smith Cultural Center
  2. The Trail of Tears– Have you ever noticed the artwork along the side of The Tennesee Aquarium? Known as The Passage, it marks the beginning of the Trail of Tears. Learn more about this tragic journey at the Cherokee Removal Memorial Park 6615 Blythe Ferry Ln, Birchwood, TN 37308. 
  3. Go on an Adventure– What do the Cherokee, civil war munitions, prohibition, America’s largest underground lake, and a curious preteen have in common? Learn the full story at The Lost Sea Adventure.
  4. Ghosts Galore– Murder, mysteries, and all things morbid are explored at the most haunted spots in Chattanooga with Ghost City Tours
  5. Trash to Treasure– Howard Finster was a celebrated pop-folk artist who turned his Summerville, GA backyard into a sprawling roadside attraction crafted from garbage. Visit Paradise Garden
  6. Walnut Street Bridge’s Darker History– A monument honors Ed Johnson, lynched after the supreme court stayed his execution. His final words: “God bless you all. I am a innocent man.” Learn more about Ed Johnson’s life through The Ed Johnson Project
  7. A Jolly Trolly Tour– Take a guided tour highlighting the history, landscape, art, and culture over Chattanooga’s 200-year history with Scenic City Tours.
  8. The Birthplace of Moonpie– Invented here over 100 years ago, moon pies have become a cultural staple and southern tradition. Check out the Moonpie General Store, at 29 Broad St.
  9. Trial of Jimmy Hoffa– After being accused of bribing jurors in Nashville, Hoffa’s trial was moved to Chattanooga. To learn more, read “Hoffa in Tennessee: The Chattanooga Trial that Brought Down an Icon” by local Maury Nicely. 
  10. The Roots of NASCAR– During prohibition Wauhatchie Pike was known as the “Moonshine Motorway.” Bootleggers souped up their cars to outpace the highway patrol, then began racing each other on makeshift dirt tracks. These stock car races led to the formation of NASCAR, in 1947.

  11. The Invention of Mini-Golf– In 1924 Garret Carter created the first mini-golf course in what would eventually become known as Rock City Gardens
  12. Coolidge Park Carousel– Made in 1894 the antique carousel features 52 whimsical hand-carved animals lovingly restored by master craftsman Bud Ellis. 
  13. Fountain Square Fireman– Erected in 1887 to honor fallen firefighters, the fountain once featured alligators who occasionally escaped their enclosures and roamed free.
  14. The Great Locomotive Chase– The first Medal of Honor recipients are honored for their part in a 120-mile high-speed train robbery during the Civil War. 
  15. The Invention of the Tow Truck– Did you know that the very first tow truck was invented by local mechanic Ernest Holmes in 1916? Learn more at the International Tow Truck Museum
  16. Ride the Rails– For over 100 years Chattanooga was a railway hub. Visit the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum to learn their history and ride a restored vintage train. 
  17. Who is John Ross?– Chief Ross railed against President Jackson’s cruel and illegal eviction of the Cherokee from their land. Read his protest letter to congress here
  18. American Art– With a collection that spans from the 1700s to today, as well as rotating exhibits The Hunter Museum features the best of American Art. 
  19. A Coke and a Smile– Did you know that Chattanooga had the world’s first coca-cola bottling plant? This small idea led to the iconic brand becoming a worldwide sensation. 
  20. Maclellan Island– Nestled under the Veterans Bridge in the heart of the Tennessee River this nature preserve hosts a variety of plants, birds, wildlife, and a shadow desert. 
  21. From Pollution Mess to Pedestrian Mecca– Chattanooga went from “America’s Dirtiest City” to a pedestrian mecca by revamping the downtown, creating beautiful free green spaces, and displaying public art.
  22. Ride the Rapids– As the only natural river course to be used in the Olympics, the Ocoee boasts the best whitewater in the south, with class III, IV, & V rapids. 
  23. Vote Whiskey– In 2013 distilleries became legal in Hamilton County for the first time since before the prohibition. Tour the Chattanooga Whiskey distillery and learn its history.  
  24. The Scopes Trial– This landmark trial has been recreated on stage, screen, and live annually at the Dayton Scopes Festival
  25. And, of course, the Battlefields– From Lookout Mountain to Chickamauga you can’t throw a rock around Chattanooga without hitting a Civil War site.