It’s difficult to say Chattanooga, type Chattanooga, read Chattanooga without the obligatory CHOO CHOO, following behind. I realize this is likely just me. Stepping foot onto the famed platform, it’s no holds barred. I’m belting the limited lyrics I know to that little ditty, to the embarrassment to y’all around me.
Imagine my amusement walking into Terminal BrewHouse and what should be playing overhead? No, that would’ve been too cliché. It was the Rolling Stones, Symphony for the Devil, with the chorus, Pleased to meet you, Hope you guess my name, woo woooo, woo wooo… But, what do I hear?, Pleased to meet you, Hope you guess my name, choo chooo, choo chooo.
The first train arrived at Terminal Station on December 1, 1909. The depot grew to serve nearly 50 passenger trains a day. Over the years, the busy terminal greeted Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Roosevelt. By the late 1940’s, railroads across the country saw a decline in service.
After WWII, the use of automobiles became more prevalent, and Terminal Station saw a long and slow decline. On August 11, 1970, the Birmingham Special was the last train to depart Terminal Station.
Terminal Station seemed destined for demolition, the fate of many other train stations at that time. However, this station was rescued by a group of local businessmen who were aptly named, The Choo Choo Partners.
Sometime in the early 40’s Chester Davis, a porter at the Terminal Station, saved his tips and purchased the neighboring Stong Building (no, not a typo), and became one of the first black business owners in Chattanooga. The building stayed in his family, until purchased in 2006 by local investor, Joe Sliger, who immediately began restoring the property.
He gathered a reported “motley crew” interested in this historic building. This band of visionaries had, coincidentally, a vision for the wonderful old building. The brick walls seemed to cry out to these fearless investors. “Beer!” said the weathered bricks, “Good Grub!” said the rafters… and so, despite being terrified of the talking building, an idea was born. After much struggling and many delays, The Terminal BrewHouse came alive.
Today’s 24 Acre Complex
This historical space now boasts three hotel buildings, several restaurants, a variety of retail shops, a temporary outdoor ice rink, an antique trolley ride, a model railroad museum, and more. You could even spend the night in a authentic sleeper car, once reserved for only the wealthiest of passengers during the railroad era.
The bustle that was so familiar in the railroad days of Chattanooga’s Terminal Station, is alive today in new fashion. Here to remain making memories for generations to come.
BUT, Our Chattanooga Visit Was Not Complete
When on the free bus to the River Walk we struck a conversation with the driver. She asked about our visit to get a Moon Pie. “Moon Pie?, nah… we haven’t done that.” She looked at us in utter disbelief. “Your visit is not complete until you have a Moon Pie. No, not complete.” As we got off the bus, she pulled her window open, pointed toward the shop for the third time, and then with narrowed eyes, she watched us, to make sure we heeded her advise.