Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Bit of Civil War History

This little piece of history actually began in the 1840's. In my ongoing quest to find and photograph old Freight and Passenger Railroad Depots, we came through Tunnel Hill GA.

We found what we were looking for...the old stone freight depot built by Western & Atlantic. At one point not too long ago, it had been incorporated into a larger structure as part of an ongoing business but now it once again stands alone.

And then, there's this piece of history...and why the town is named Tunnel Hill. This 1,477 foot long tunnel under Chetoogeta Mountain was completed by Western & Atlantic in 1848. Initially, the freight was pulled through the tunnel and the passengers had to walk over the mountain! This tunnel was the first one completed in the south and it wasn't replaced by a new tunnel until 1928. The 'new' tunnel, which is parallel to the original, is still in use.

The tunnel figured into a dramatic piece of Civil War History...The Great Locomotive Chase. Fortunately, the Union force that seized "The General" failed to accomplish a key part of their mission...the destruction of the W&A Tunnel under Chetoogeta Mountain. Tours are now provided into the tunnel.

The Clisby-Austin House is located right down the hill and across the road from the tunnel. The Union's Atlanta Campaign started here. The house was used as a field hospital during the battle of Chickamauga...and later as General William Tecumseh Sherman's Headquarters during the Battle of Dalton. Confederate General John B. Hood and his amputated leg spent time in the field hospital. He kept the leg with him so it could be buried with him if he died. He survived, but his leg is buried here...

The town of Tunnel Hill is on US Highway 41 just southeast of Chattanooga and quite close to I-75. It's an interesting side trip to make...

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