History of the Incline Railway
Following the Civil War, development on Lookout Mountain was minimal. The four-hour trip up Whiteside Pike, a toll road, discouraged many people, and the two-dollar toll discouraged the rest. However, many people were interested at visiting the peak, in part due to the romanticized "Battle Above the Clouds" (more) that occurred on the mountain during The Civil War.
During the railroad boom of the 1880's, speculators decided to develop a hotel on the mountaintop serviced by a narrow gauge railroad that would run up the mountain. A second, broad-gauge line and an earlier incline also competed for passengers.
On November 16, 1895 the railroad known today simply as "The Incline" opened, rising up the steepest part of Lookout Mountain. Built by John Crass and the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway Company this technical marvel boasted an incline of 72.7% at one point, making it the steepest passenger Incline in the world. Literally millions of residents and tourists have taken this ride up to the top of Lookout Mountain. By 1900 the success of this railway closed down all of its competitors.
Originally the cars were made of wood and powered by huge coal-burning steam engines. Electric power was used after 1911, and it now uses two 100 horsepower motors. Today The Incline Railway still attracts people from around the world.
In the upper right hand corner is the palatial Lookout Mountain Hotel. The streetcar in front was one part of an intricate network of transportation that developed to service the needs of the patrons. The hotel burned in 1907. Lower right, The Incline Railroad in the 1940's. Lower center, the modern Incline Railway. Left hand side, preparing to make the ascent up Lookout Mountain.
Directions: From I-75 take I-24 to exit 179. Follow the access road to Route 11 (this is tricky. Signs take you to "Lookout Mountain" are small and frequently missing. You cross two roads before U. S. 11.) Turn left (south) at Highway 11 and continue for 4 miles. At the McDonald's bear left onto Highway 17. The Incline is down this road on the right.
Address:Lookout Mountain Incline Railway
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