Pardon Me Boys, Is That The Chattanooga Choo Choo?

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December 9th 2005
Published: December 9th 2005
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Ah, the Chattanooga Choo Choo Holiday Inn.

Ain’t no one askin’, “Pardon me boys, but is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo,” anymore. The irony, of course, is that even “the L&N don’t run here anymore.” Nor does the Southern Railway. And even though you’re sitting inside an opulent, if midsized, passenger station, you have to travel a hundreds miles by other means to catch the nearest Amtrak passenger train in Gainesville, Georgia. But hey, if it wasn’t for the near-demise of passenger rail in the Twentieth Century, it wouldn’t be possible in the Twenty First Century to sleep in passenger car cum hotel room in the switching yard of a defunct passenger station converted into a hotel.

A plaque remains on the receiving side of the old Chattanooga passenger station, explaining the historical significance of Chattanooga during the Civil War, at least to student of Civil War history. With a list of names of generals, and only a few passing references to army allegiances, and not a single reference to the number of common soldiers who died during the multitude of artillery barrages and infantry charges, the plaque confounds all but the most ardent of Civil War buffs,


“This city was first occupied by Confederate troops in the Spring of 1862 under Generals Floyd, Maxey and Leadbetter. Union troops under General Mitchell shelled it June 7 and 8. Bragg’s army occupied it in August preparing for the Kentucky campaign, again in the fall on its return from Kentucky, and in the Summer of 1863 while retiring before Rosencrans from Middle Tennessee. Wilder shelled the city from Stringer’s Ridge August 21. Bragg evacuated it Sept. 7 and 8, and a small Union force took possession. Rosencrans occupied it in force the second morning after the battle of Chickamauga, and thereafter it remained in Union control. Thomas succeeded Rosencrans Oct. 19…”

And so on, for another two paragraphs…

But, all in all, a pretty neat experience. A sign in the railcar room warns that it has been soundproofed as much as possible. Nonetheless, I was able to distinctly hear a young family bedding down in the room occupying the other half of the railcar. It could have been worse: I could have been listening to a young couple intent on making a family...

The food was on par for a Holiday Inn, never presenting a culinary challenge or novelty, although many of the dishes had been given railroad names, such as “Norfolk Southern Fried Chicken.” The corn fritters with apple butter were darn tasy, I must say, and at least the bar had Sam Adams on tap…

So, take the family there, it’s worth a visit. But you may not be in a rush to get there again...

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Chattanooga Military HistoryChattanooga Military History
Chattanooga Military History

For diehard civil war buffs only...

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