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Published: June 25th 2017
Geo: 35.0464, -85.3094
So what happens when you tell DH that we're going to Chattanooga, Tennessee. You get to hear an off-key version of:"Pardon me, boy
Is that the Chattanooga choo choo?
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"
…over and over again (although admittedly she only knew the words to the first line and the rest of it sounded like Proud Mary by Tina Turner?). DH may have destroyed the song but the version by Glen Miller was actually the first gold record in the world.
Very few cities in the nation can claim as close a tie to the railroad as Chattanooga. It wasn't so much a destination as a connector to some of America's biggest cities. From 1909 to 1970 all trains traveling southward passed through Chattanooga's famous Terminal Station. Unable to compete with faster modes of travel, trains stopped running in 1970; but the terminal was saved from demolition in 1973 by a group of local investors. And the good news for us was that they turned the entire station and remaining trains into a hotel complex, We've slept on trains before but most experiences have been
both cramped and noisy (DH still has recurring nightmares about a shared cabin overnighter with a family of 20 in India). On the Chattanooga Choo Choo there are only 2 relatively luxurious rooms per train car.
More good news for us- there was one railcar room left in this high demand facility so we jumped at it. Now for the bad news- it's almost impossible to soundproof stationary railway cars, and the hotel (exercising the same creativity as the promo department at WKRP which arranged to throw turkeys out of a helicopter on Thanksgiving… not knowing turkeys couldn't fly) was offering an elf tuck-in service for the Xmas season. That, of course, meant that the other half of our railway car was overrun with hyped up hellions waiting for a creepy elf to tuck them in- an event that was bizarrely scheduled for 11:00pm. Not the greatest night of sleep but it was fun to be sleeping on a train (and having a creepy elf tuck us was another new experience for us).
All too soon it was time to leave Chattanooga and a few miles down the road we couldn't come up with any other reasons to keep saying
“Chattanooga” (it's a fun name to say), but it wasn't long before DH was rhyming off another of her most favourite names, “Jack Daniels”.
Only in America could one of the most famous whiskey distilleries in the world be located at the centre of one of the few 'dry' counties in the entire country. You can't get booze anywhere in this county except at the distillery so they are mandated to charge a significant amount for the taster tour, presumably so that the locals don't sign up for never ending tours?? We signed up for the free no-booze tour since DH had already consumed her lifetime limit of JD back in her end-of-shift party days. It was a fairly standard distillery tour except for two stops. The first was a visit to the safe that killed the real Jack Daniel. Sometime around 1906, Jack Daniel arrived at the office one morning and tried to open the safe in his office. He either couldn't remember the combination or wasn't getting it right on the dial. In a fit of anger, he kicked the safe and broke his toe. Daniel never had it attended to by a doctor and an infection soon
set up in the toe. The gangrene eventually spread throughout his system and resulted in Daniel losing his leg to the disease. Jack survived until Oct. 9, 1911 when he died of complications due to the gangrene infection.
The second stop was the Single Barrel Society room, where plaques are displayed bearing the names of the well-to-do (or serious drinkers) who have made the decision to buy an entire barrel of JD. Apparently the US military buys the most of the brand's premium Single Barrel whiskey in the world (even Barrack Obama has a plague). The price tag for an entire barrel of this whiskey swings from $9,000-$12,000 since no two whiskey barrels have the same volume. Long live JD!!
We went from two of the happiest names to say (Chattanooga and Jack Daniels) to a name that means a lot but will never be mistaken for poetry- Buford Pusser. Buford was the real life Sherriff behind the Walking Tall movies. After years of whacking bad guys with a big stick in a virtual one-man war on moonshining, prostitution, gambling, and other vices along the Mississippi–Tennessee state line, he died under somewhat mysterious circumstances and his hometown has since turned his vintage
70's home into a museum. We've been carrying around tiny bats for personal protection, but after seeing the tree trunks that Buford used to carry, I think we may need more lumber.
The name game continues and we're off to the home of one of the happiest names ever- Elvis Presley
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