Terminal Station

Terminal Station in Chattanooga, Tennessee is a former railroad station, once owned and operated by the Southern Railway, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The station was opened in 1909 and was the latest and largest station in Chattanooga's history. The original Chattanooga Union Station, built in 1858, (demolished in 1973) was outgrown by the rapid expansion in the railroad network serving Chattanooga. A second station, built in 1882, was outgrown in only six years. In 1888, an old freight depot was converted to a passenger facility, while three other depots handled commercial and industrial traffic.

The Beaux-Arts-style station designed by Donn Barber was one of the grandest buildings in Chattanooga, featuring an arched main entrance that is claimed to be the largest unsupported brick arch in the world. The building also has an 82-foot (25 m) high ceiling dome with a skylight in the center section. Lighting was provided by large brass chandeliers. The 1941 Glenn Miller song "Chattanooga Choo Choo" told the story of a train trip from Pennsylvania Station in New York City through Baltimore, North and South Carolina, and terminating at Track 29 in Terminal Station.

As the railroad industry declined in the 1950s and 1960s, passenger traffic dwindled, and the last passenger train, The Birmingham Special, left Terminal Station in 1970. In 1972, local businessmen bought the building, renamed it the Chattanooga Choo Choo after the song, and began rehabilitating the building. Today, the 24-acre (97,000 m2) complex is a convention center, hotel and resort with restaurants and shops. Hotel guests can stay in half of a restored passenger railway car. Dining at the complex includes the Gardens restaurant in the Terminal Station itself (enclosed passenger loading platform), The Station House (which is housed in a former baggage storage, but on original building plans is designated as "Mail Sorting Facility") and the "Dinner in the Diner" which is the complex's fine dining venue, housed in a restored 1938 Class A dining car. Some parts of the complex are connected by a heritage streetcar line, operated by a 1924-built ex-New Orleans Perley Thomas trolley car.


 

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