Monday, March 25, 2013

The Chickamauga Battlefield, Lookout Mountain, and The Chattanooga Choo Choo

Thursday, March 21, 2013  through  Saturday, March 23, 2013
Thursday was a driving day, after leaving Savannah.. We completed 340 miles and a visit to the Cartecay Vineyard on Thursday.  We landed safely in Dawsonville, Georgia where we ordered a pizza for dinner, and collapsed.  We had seen some beautiful scenery, but there had been some white-knuckle driving along the way.  We stopped at some apple shops and gathered "fried pies," pickled okra, wildflower honey and scuppernong jelly. 

Friday was yet another driving day.After a harrowing ride across Fort Mountain in northern Georgia, on a
road nicknamed the "Oh My Gosh!
Road," we positioned ourselves in a motel near the Chickamauga Battlefield in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, so that we could get an early start on Saturday morning.

We are devoted battlefield visitors.  Randy wants to list the ones we've visited, but that takes research, so it's another posting.

Park Ranger Will Sunderland
Chickamauga Battlefield is located  at the northernmost part of Georgia in the town of Fort Oglethorpe.  It is  next to Chattanooga, Tennessee.  As early as we could get there, we arrived at the welcome center where we met a delightful young park ranger named Will Sunderland.

We could tell that Will loves his job, as we watched him jump right in to do a computer search for information about my great grandfather, Sidney Rudolph Propst, who served in the Confederate Army of the South during the Civil War.  I had some information about Sidney, which I recited to Will, and voila! He produced printed documents from computer websites, showing me that my great grandfather had, indeed, served with the Alabama 41st Infantry right there at the Battle of Chickamauga!  Sidney Propst served in Helm's Brigade.

General Benjamin Helm was the brother-in-law of Abraham Lincoln.  Helm was killed in the Battle of Chickamauga, and a monument marks the location of his death.

Randy gave Will the name of his great grandfather, also. Within the time it took to watch a short movie about The Battle of Chickamauga, Will produced a pile of printed information about Robert William Gillenwater  of Kentucky, who served in the Union Army of the North, and who also had been at the Battle of Chickamauga!

How ironic, really, to find that both of our great grandfathers had participated in the same battle, over a period of a few days, over a hundred years ago, in a state far from their homes, and ours, and on opposing sides, to boot!

In awe, we went out to see the scene of our ancestors' battle, armed with an audio CD that would tell us where to drive and what we would be seeing.

 Chickamauga was the first battlefield to be made into a National Park.  It does not have as many huge monuments as Gettysburg does.  The ones that are there, though, speak volumes.

We drove, listening to the CD, stopping to view the scenery while the narrator told what had happened where.  It was cold and gray.  When a herd of young deer walked quietly in front of our car, we remarked how peaceful it looked this day in contrast to the fighting that had gone on in 1863.

 We were searching for the 41st Infantry of Alabama and the 9th Infantry from Kentucky. The markers were in blue for the Union and red for the Confederate areas.

We did locate an area where Randy's great-grandfather's 9th Infantry of Kentucky was in battle. ( See the photo below.)


Randy at the site of his great grandfather's battle area

After leaving Chickamauga Battlefield, we drove up Lookout Mountain.  Another battlefield is up on the top of this humongous mountain.  The road up travels around the mountain, and the road is narrow.  More white knuckles!  Beautiful homes have fabulous views from the mountainside. At the top it is 2,392 feet above sea level.  We stopped at the point where an incline leaves to go down the mountain, and climbed steps to an overlook.  Then we drove back down the mountain.  Enough already with high places for awhile!

A short drive to downtown Chattanooga was our last stop in this area.  We had to see The Chattanooga Choo Choo Train, because we knew that everyone would ask if we had seen it!  It is real, and it's behind the old railroad station in the city.

 The railroad station has become  the Choo Choo Hotel.  You can actually sleep in a railway car or in a hotel room. The lobby is the old terminal.  Young couples dressed for their high school proms were having their photos taken at the station.  It must be "the place" in Chattanooga.

We enjoyed seeing the girls in their prom dresses, and got a kick out of the fact that many of them were wearing cowboy boots with their frilly dresses!

 Off from the Choo Choo, we headed north on I75 to Knoxville, Tennessee, where we had been invited to stay overnight with our friends,  Jerry and Susan Kornegay.

Jerry is a wonderful cook, and the two of them put together a delicious dinner of grilled flank steak, fresh asparagus and sweet potatoes for us. 

We stayed up late talking, and we enjoyed their hospitality.

In the morning, Sunday, March 25th we left their lovely home and continued our journey northward towards home.  About twenty miles out of Knoxville it occurred to us that we had been so busy talking and visiting with Susan and Jerry that we had totally forgotten to take any pictures with them!

After all this driving, we got a little silly, and so we have produced our own "photo" of us with the Kornegays!  I never said I could draw.