Monday, June 20, 2005

Chattanooga (Choo Choo)

Chattanooga is an interesting little city. Once so industrial, it is now on the verge of becoming artsy with several pocket-parks displaying sculptures and artwork. It is also wonderful that the city is making the Tennessee River, which divides the city, into a main focal point and accessible to all. There are several parks dotting the riverside and a wonderful greenway that when finished will run for 22 miles along the river and through downtown. We ran and biked on the Riverpark Greenway.

The downtown area surrounding the Aquarium has several fountains that children can play in, stone bridges, and brick-pavered courtyards.

There's an outdoor amphitheater with free concerts. We saw scuba-divers gearing up to go into the river and kayakers enjoying the river as well. Here's a picture of the kayak launch down the river bank...makes me think we have it easy in S. Fla.

There's an inviting feeling to the downtown area. Very alive. Now it's not complete yet, there are some vacant buildings and industrial areas, but you get a sense for the direction this city is taking and its a good one.

One of the touristy things we had to do while in town was go to Rock City. Since the 1930's they have advertised on barn roofs across the country. Thankfully it wasn't as touristy as we feared. It sits on top of Lookout Mountain and consists of large boulders and cliffs with blooming plants and trees planted in nooks and crevices. There was the Swing-a-long bridge to cross over one large gap...

And other areas you had to squeeze between boulders to get to the other side...

There were also fantastic views of the valley below from Lovers Leap.


We also toured some of the historical parks in the area. The first was Chickamauga National Military Park. Although the park itself was serene with rolling fields and forests it was hard not to be disturbed by the history of this battlefield. Over 34,000 men died during the Civil War within two days of fighting. That's it, just two days, all of those lives lost. That's not including the wounded or missing. What really hit home for us was this quote by Col. John Wilder on Sept 19, 1863
It seemed a pity to kill men so. They fell in heaps, and I had it in my heart to order the firing to cease, to end the awful site.

We only took the driving tour through the park since we didn't get there til late in the day. There are hiking trails and biking roads that you can use to see more of this area.

Monuments and plaques are placed throughout the park detailing lives lost and battles fought. Cannons were placed on the original lines of battle which gave you an idea of where the 'enemy' was coming from, which was usually a forest.

We also went to Point Park, or Battles of Chattanooga, high up on Lookout Mountain where the battles continued. The park offered incredible views of Moccasin Bend and Chattanooga below.

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