Chattanooga, TN: Choo-Choo

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Chattanooga is a great town to visit for a day or two.  You’ll have to spend a little money on tourist attractions, but you’ll stay busy the entire time and see some neat places.

The first tourist attraction you’ll probably think you must see in Chattanooga will probably be a bit of a let-down.  Even so, you can’t come to town without seeing the Chattanooga Choo-Choo.

The Chattanooga Choo-Choo is located in downtown.  Take I-24 exit 178, and follow Market Street for about 6 blocks.  Watch for the big billboard sign above the train station.  When you arrive, park in the front–your car should be OK there for a brief visit.

The Choo-Choo is located behind Chattanooga’s old Terminal Station, which served dozens of trains a day during the first half of the 20th century.  The station was dedicated in 1909, and boarded up in 1970, when train travel declined.

In the early 1970’s, the old station nearly had a date with the wrecking ball.  Instead, a group of investors bought the place, refurbished the station, and turned it into a hotel.  Be sure to check out the lobby, with its glass dome ceiling.

Out back, you’ll find the main attraction, the Choo-Choo itself.  The old rail yard has a couple of engines and several rows of passenger cars, which now serve as hotel rooms.  You can climb aboard one of the engines, but the other cars are off limits (unless you’re a hotel guest).

There are also a few shops here, that allow you to buy a Choo-Choo t-shirt, if you’re so inclined.

The large billboard above the train station is also a local landmark.  As a kid, I saw it at night, but during this visit I wasn’t around after dark.

Note: This trip was first published in 2006.

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