Photo Friday – Missionary Ridge Tunnel

Today’s photos are of the Missionary Ridge Tunnel in Chattanooga, TN. The tunnel, also known as the Chattanooga, Harrison, Georgetown, & Charleston Railroad Tunnel, is used by the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. It is especially noted for it’s uniqueness as a horseshoe tunnel.  The bottom of the tunnel actually pinches in so that as it rises, the sides curve out before curving back in to form the roof.

The Chattanooga, Harrison, Georgetown, and Charleston Railroad Tunnel was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on August 24, 1978, for its local significance to the engineering, military, and transportation history of Chattanooga and Hamilton County.  This nomination contains additional documentation of the property’s significance in the engineering history of Chattanooga and Hamilton County as well as its military significance during the American Civil War.  In that conflict, Chattanooga’s railroad network made the city strategically vital, with both sides vying for control of railroads. The tunnel not only was a significant component of the eastern railroad corridor, but also was a site of significant military action during the Battle of Missionary Ridge in November, 1863. The railroad tunnel is located on the site of a battle at the north end of Missionary Ridge, where Confederate forces under General Patrick Cleburne repulsed repeated attacks by Union forces under General William T. Sherman on November 25th. The original nomination stated that Cleburne’s Confederates actually entered the tunnel and used it during the fighting for concealment and fighting, but a careful reading of the official records of the battle do not offer confirmation that the tunnel was used in this manner.  However, Confederate artillery took up a position on top of the tunnel during the fighting and used this position to good advantage in its defense of the Confederate line.

Source: MTSU Center for Historic Preservation

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