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Celebrating our two-lane highways of yesteryear…And the joys of driving them today!

Dixie Dreamin'--a Short Loop


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Last month, Susan and I went to Chattanooga for my (choke!) 40th high school reunion. Since we stayed there overnight and had a bit of time to spare sunday morning, we decided to do a bit of roading on the DHW.


The photos are at

http://community.webshots.com/user/babyboomerbob , under West Dixie Highway--Northbound


As usual, we started our tour at the corner of Main and Market in downtown Chattanooga. We followed Market Street (old US 27) north because this was the original alignment of DHW heading north. When the alignment changed, Market Street became part of the Tennessee Connector. (A big tip of the BabyBoomer bucket hat to Alex for posting the 1920's route here a couple of years ago:)


The first place we stopped was the Chattanooga Choo Choo. I remembered well when it was the Terminal Station for the Southern Railroad. Back in 1962 my grandmother and I rode the train to Morristown to visit some relatives in Rogersville. That was the trip when I first crossed Clinch Mountain and saw Cumberland Gap, but that's another story:)


The place is now a hotel and restaurant. They have old railroad cars that have been converted into hotel rooms. <Chattanooga Choo Choo

01-06> Right across Market Street is the remains of Ellis' Restaurant with its defunct hopping neon frog sign. <Ellis Restaurant> (Note: Some of these photos you've seen before, but this time I took them with Susan's camera. It makes a big difference)


We headed up Market Street stopping to get yet another photo of Hardie and Caudle clothing store <Hardie and Caudle>, then made a detour onto the interstate to avoid the closed Market Street Bridge. It's having a major restoration. I was not surprised to find the new Walgreen's Drug Store has already been put up, so no more seeing the Town and Country Restaurant sign from the bridge:(


We rejoined old 27 (Cherokee Blvd.) north of the river and up through Stringer's Ridge Tunnel <Stringer's Ridge Tunnel> to what used to be the little town of Valdeau. Here the route goes left onto Signal Mountain Blvd. This used to be the southern terminus of US 127 before the bypass was built. Now 127 begins at present day US 27.


Just before 127 begins its climb up Signal Mountain, the old DHW goes off to the left on TN SR 27 (Suck Creek Road). It follows the Tennessee River as it begins its passage through Thrasher Canyon until it crosses Suck Creek. The creek got its name from the whirlpool that used to be at it's mouth before Hales' Bar Dam was built in 1913. All the river traffic feared "The Suck". I stopped here to get a picture of the bluffs of Suck Creek Canyon <Suck Creek Bridge...> and attempted to get a picture of the site of the Suck. <Suck Creek> But it was a bit too far off and the trees didn't help my view.


The road now took us up the Cumberland Plateau through Suck Creek Canyon and on over into one of our favorite places, Sequatchie Valley. At Powell's Crossroads we went straight onto TN 283, then the old road goes straight ahead onto the no longer numbered Valley View Highway heading toward Jasper.


We took a brief detour up TN 28 to Whitwell. Not a lot to see <Caboose>, but there's an interesting story. The middle school children here have been collecting 6 million paper clips to make a memorial to the victins of the Holocaust. The latest word is that they have exceeded their goal. The full story can be found here.



We returned to Valley View Highway and followed the DHW until we got to Victoria. There we made another detour over to Ketner Mill. It's the last remaining working water mill in the area. The oldest part of it dates back to 1824. I checked a web page and thought it would be open, but when we got there there was a man sitting in a pickup thuck who told me it was only open during special events. We wandered around and had a look outside anyway:) <Ketner Mill 01-05> On the way back to DHW, we saw this sign by the road. <Wolf Pups...>


Back on the DHW, we came upon this old, one lane bridge. It would have been less of a surprise if it had been part of the highway, but it actually was someone's private driveway bridge:) <Private Driveway Bridge 01, 02>


The 20's alignment ended in Jasper. The way back was along the Will Cummings Highway which today carries US 41, 64, 72, and (for the easternmost few miles) 11. I've done some research on Judge Cummings, but the info has been sparse. All I know is he was a Hamilton County judge during the 30's, he was tight with FDR, and he supported good roads. I have been unable to determine what year the CH was opened, but according to the 1932 Gulf map at Rose's Service Station in Tazewell, TN, The older route was still the preferred one at that time <Birthday Road Trip/Rose's Service Station 11>


I took a couple of pictures in Jasper <Cummings Highway 01, Retro Clock>, then we headed east, back toward Chattanooga. I strongly suspect the Tennessee River Bridge at Guild was the last link in the completion of Cummings Highway. It still has its truss and I just *had* to get another picture of it:) <Tennessee River Bridge>


Just past Guild, we drove down to the river bank and the site of Hales Bar Dam. It served well for 54 years, but began leaking and was replaced by Nickajack Dam, several miles downstream, in 1967. The powerhouse is all that's left. <Hales Bar Powerhouse> Before the bridge was opened, the only way anyone was able to get to the other side of the river was through a pedestrian tunnel inside the dam.


As Cummings Highway approaches Chattanooga it leaves the river and crosses a low gap through Raccoon Mountain before dropping into Wauhatchie Valley. Raccoon Mountain has become a bit of a tourist attraction, mostly for the hang gliding off the brow. This little "lodge" <Alpine Lodge> is part of this area.


On to Tiftonia, where US 11 joins on it's way north from Birmingham. From here on to Chattanooga the highway is four lanes. I took a second to get a picture of this barbecue restaurant. <Tiftonia> Just east of here the highway bottlenecks to 2 lanes through a railroad underpass. <Cummings Highway 02>


We left Wauhatchie Valley and began clinbing around the toe of Lookout Mountain. I couldn't help being reminded of a big mural that was painted on a rock face back in the 60's. There was a lot of racial tension back then, during the days of the Civil Rights Movement. The mural was in support of Barry Goldwater for president. The one thing I recall the most is that Rev. Martin Luther King was drawn with fangs:( Some things don't need to stay by the side of the road:(


Towards the top of the toe, I stopped to get another picture of the Lookout Mountain Tourist Lodge sign <Lookout Mountain...> Nothing has changed but the camera I was using:)


At the crest, there was a short curve of old road that had been blessedly bypassed by a bridge long before my time:) The old section is now blocked off, but I was able to get out and take some pictures. <Cummings Highway 03> There was a pair of metal doors located in the rock face. What on earth could they be? Look at the caption for <Cummings Highway 04> and you'll find out:) Also there is a plaque honoring Judge Cummings. <Cummings Highway 05>


Right before the end of Cummings Highway, I made a right turn onto Old Wauhatchie Pike. This is an older road (antebellum, in fact) that once completely crossed the toe of the mountain. I drove it a couple of times back in the 70's. Unfortunately, part of it has been abandoned and closed:( If I had consulted DeLorme instead of relying on my memory I would have known:) <Old Wauhatchie Pike 01-03>


After crossing the toe of LM, the Cummings Highway swings left, passes under a railroad underpass and becomes Broad Street. <Cummings Highway 06> This underpass was something special to me when I was a kid. Going underneath it meant adventure. It meant we were either going to Lookout Mountain or to Mississippi to see my aunt and uncle. Sort of a magic portal, as it were:)



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