We came to Chattanooga as it was close to Old Car City and we thought we could do both at the same time. As I said in my last blog, there were a couple of places that were priorities to visit. One of these is Old Car City in White, Georgia.
After Muscle Shoals, Chattanooga was a little of a let down. Its a nice city, but really not a lot to see or do in the town. What was amazing to us, were the houses built on the cliff face up on Lookout Mountain that over looks Chattanooga. We drove up Lookout Mountain to the top of the Incline Railway and then took it down the mountain to St Elmo where we had lunch before going back up the Incline Railway to the top.
The Incline Railway is the steepest railway in the world. A mile of a single rail travelling at a 72.7% grade straight up (or down) and is 100 years old. I am sure, many of you who know my fear of heights can just imagine me riding this thing. I had to admit to sitting at the back on the way down. On the trip up I thought I would be fine sitting in the front as we were going up the hill. Ha ha, they didnt tell me you go back up the hill backwards. Have to admit to closing my eyes a few times.
Chattanooga town, like so many others we have been too, is full of statues and art work spotted around the streets. We spent the afternoon wandering around the town, walking over the Walnut Street Bridge that was built in 1891 and crosses the Tennessee River.
Of course while in Chattanooga we had to take the Trolley out to the old Chattanooga Train Station made famous by the Gen Miller song Chattanooga Choo Choo back in 1941. Interestingly this song was the first song to ever receive a Gold Record. It is now a Hotel and Park, no working trains, but it was fun to imagine them as they once were as we hummed the song.
As I was saying, one of the reasons for coming to Chattanooga, was that White Georgia was a short drive from there. We left early on the day we had set aside for White and headed down the Interstate. It wasn’t hard to find Old Car City as it was just off the Interstate. We intended grabbing breakfast enroute but I think TOH in his excitement to get there forgot this, so we arrived as they opened, both feeling rather hungry.
With luck there was an amazing roadside restaurant right across the road called Wes-Mans Restaurant. What a find. Breakfast was great, huge, served fast with a smile and priced so cheap we both did a double take. It was worth getting fully nourished as we then went to spend the next 2-3 hours wandering around Old Car City before going back to grab lunch to be able to spend another 2 hours with the old cars.
Old Car City is the worlds largest known classic car junkyard, TOH had seen a documentary on it some time ago, and being a car buff and a keen photographer, it was somewhere he had dreamed about visiting.
It started out as a family general store and car sale yard back in 1931. Over the years it has transitioned into this amazing 32 acre classic car museum of over 4,000 cars with most of them over 40 years old. The cars seem initially just abandoned amongst the trees, but as you walk you realise that when they were left here, it must have just been an empty field, there were no trees, as the trees and vines have grown up through and around the cars. I also noticed that there is some order here, as while we were walking through one area, TOH kept singing Mustang Sally Alley.
We wandered through the cars in awe at what was there and the beauty of it all as the sun filtered through the trees. TOH was in his element with the camera, but I felt at times I had to remind him to take photos as he was a bit like a kid in a candy shop, such was his delight at the old cars he was discovering.
I have to admit that for me it was the area at the very back with the oldest cars and pickups. It was their faces that got to me. With the movie Cars in mind I wondered if, after we all left for the day and it darkness fell if they talked to each other.
We wondered at the power and beauty of nature that is slowly taking back these vehicles. They have trees growing through them, bending them to the will of the trees. They are covered in moss and pine needles and home for animals like opossums, foxes, the chipmunks we saw, the occasional bear, as well as the nastier ones I would rather not think were slithering away about as we walked through the long grass in places.
The property is now run by the son of the original owner (Dean Lewis) and his daughter and true to TOH’s form he soon got to chatting with them before we left for the day. And thankfully he did. Although we had seen many of Dean’s quirky quotes dotted all around the property, we had missed seeing Dean’s display of Styrofoam cups that he’s decorated. He started doodling on them back in 1978 when he began drinking coffee to help stop smoking.
Within a short time, we have ticked off 2 of the places we prioritised for this trip and both Muscle Shoals and Old Car City were better than we both expected. Lets see if Nashville lives up to the hype.