One of my favorite things to do when traveling with my family is utilizing the first day of travel to get more bang for your buck! Since we love to travel overnight as much as possible, this mean we arrive at our destination in the morning or late morning before we can check into our hotel or resort. Using this time to visit smaller museums and attractions is a great way to add travel time and stretch our legs before we take a nap after check-in.
On this trip we visited On our recent visit to Chattanooga, we visited the Historic Western & Atlantic Museum & Tour which is in Tunnel Hill, Georgia which is not far from Chattanooga (less than 10-15 miles). The tour is very economical at well under $40 for for a family of 4. I paid $18 (I love a good deal) on Groupon. It is in Georgia but it is a good opportunity to see an attraction before arriving to Downtown Chattanooga.
Just as we arrived another family of 4 also came in for a visit. My family of 4 was greeted by our tour guide and each family went on a separate extended motorized gold cart which started our tour of the train tunnel used by the Western & Atlantic many generations ago.
We love living history, so we asked our tour guide how the tunnel was made and the extent of machinery that played a part in its construction. My husband does subcontracting work as an electrician so I can appreciate manual labor but 100 years ago, each piece of the tunnel was excavated and added by hand with very little machinery used.
I suppose the New Orleans part of me led me to ask about ghosts! The tunnel and safety measures used back then had me question how many men died trying to complete their task and deadline to dig through the base of Chetoogeta Mountain.
Built in 1848 this 1477 ft. tunnel was to connect the port of Augusta to the Tenn. River Valley. It was also the first RR across the Appalachian Mtns. The tunnel became part of several Historical events during the civil period. History can fun especially since the tour is given inside an electric cart through the tunnel which includes Civil War history. Aside from the tunnel, visitors can tour the Clisby Austin House which briefly served as General Sherman’s Headquarters at the beginning of The Atlanta Campaign.
The general store (shown above) is not part of the original tunnel but was donated with Clisby Austin House. The Western & Atlantic Museum & Tour does a wonderful job of preserving the general store and adding elements that would be seen in most general stores during that period.
After our tunnel and general store visit, we went to the Clisby Austin House. The Clisby Austin House was once a battlefield then purchased by a private owner before it too was donated to the Tunnel Hill Heritage Center. The Austin family cemetery is located on a hill across from the house. It is believed that as many as 17 family members are buried there. I asked about ghosts and our tour guide did mention that several people have noticed a figure or unusual activity during a visit.
We returned to our original starting point and visited the museum in the main building. A notable feature is the audio tour that can be done via mobile device. We put our phone on speaker and were able to enter in each section of the museum so our entire family can enjoy. Our visit was delightful and filled with a wealth of information. It’s by far the best bang for your buck in the area and a great way to suppose small, local museums.
Have you visited Chattanooga or plan to visit in the future? Do you look for smaller attractions or museums when traveling?