The Chattanooga Choo Choo
The Chattanooga Choo Choo, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, has spent less than fifty years as a hotel. Before the 1970s, the property was a fully operational train station named Terminal Station that originally opened in 1909. Terminal Station was the largest and most modern station that the city had ever seen. Donn Barber, a student of the École des Beaux-Arts, designed the station, which featured a large, arched main entrance as well as a ceiling dome with a skylight. Brass chandeliers completed the rooms, bestowing an air of grandeur.
In 1941, the famous Glenn Miller song, “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” hopped onto radios across the nation, describing the journey of a train traveling from New York City along the Eastern Seaboard until its end at Terminal Station.
During the 1950s and 1960s, rail traffic decreased significantly until 1970, when the last passenger train, the Birmingham Special, left Terminal Station.
A group of businessmen bought the station and surrounding property in 1972, renaming it, “The Chattanooga Choo Choo,” after the Glenn Miller song
Guest Historian Series
Read more about the history of The Chattanooga Choo Choo, as told by Historic Hotels of America 2014 and 2015 Historian of the Year Stanley Turkel. Excerpt is taken from his latest book Built to Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi (AuthorHouse 2013).