TwHP Lessons

Chattanooga, Tennessee:
Train Town

[Cover photo] Chattanooga Terminal Station, 1935
(Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library)


hen Glenn Miller and his orchestra introduced the famous song "Chattanooga Choo- Choo" in 1941, the Tennessee city it referred to had been a railroad center for nearly a century. Mack Gordon’s lyrics from the Academy Award- nominated song trace the progress of the "Choo-Choo" from New York’s Pennsylvania Station south to Chattanooga’s sprawling Terminal Station, making “Track 29” famous. Arriving passengers were greeted by the bustle, sounds, smells, and opulence of a grand building that was a tribute to the town’s importance as a southeastern transportation hub. Around Terminal Station were miles of crisscrossing tracks, acres of rail yards, and dozens of buildings that housed the industries, restaurants, hotels, shops, offices, and people of a town that evolved as a direct result of the rail industry.

Railroads both influenced and reflected American settlement and development from the 1830s to the 1950s. In the cities, they shaped and stimulated economic growth, planning, and architecture. Today, although railroads have lost much of their economic importance, evidence of their influence remains. Even in towns where trains no longer run, buildings, tracks, train beds, and place names attest to the enduring legacy of America’s rail history.


About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. Tennessee and surrounding region

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. The Railroad Helps Build a Town:
 Chattanooga, Tennessee

 2. Promoting Chattanooga
 3. Terminal Station

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. Terminal Station, 1935
 2. Terminal Station and surrounding area
 3. 1260 and 1263 Market Street,

 4. 1401 Market Street, Chattanooga
 5. 1140 Newby Street, Chattanooga

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. The Roles of Geography and Promotion
 2. Literature, Art, and Music
 3. Researching Your Community's
 Railroad History

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This lesson is based on the Market and Main Streets Historic District and Terminal Station, several of the thousands of properties and districts listed in the National Register of Historic Places.



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