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19022
Tennessee

The Best of Chattanooga: Trains, Waterfalls and Battlefields

Discover the southern gem of Chattanooga as you learn about rock formations, waterfalls, Civil War battlefields and historic trains, Appalachian music and more!
Rating (5)
Program No. 19022RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,429
Tennessee

The Best of Chattanooga: Trains, Waterfalls and Battlefields

Discover the southern gem of Chattanooga as you learn about rock formations, waterfalls, Civil War battlefields and historic trains, Appalachian music and more!
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,429
Program No. 19022 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
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Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Sep 26 - Oct 1, 2021
Small group
Starting at
1,549
Oct 24 - Oct 29, 2021
Starting at
1,429
Mar 27 - Apr 1, 2022
Small group
Starting at
1,449
Apr 24 - Apr 29, 2022
Small group
Starting at
1,579
May 1 - May 6, 2022
Small group
Starting at
1,449
Sep 25 - Sep 30, 2022
Small group
Starting at
1,579
Oct 23 - Oct 28, 2022
Small group
Starting at
1,449
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Sep 26 - Oct 1, 2021
Small group
Starting at
1,959
Oct 24 - Oct 29, 2021
Starting at
1,839
Mar 27 - Apr 1, 2022
Small group
Starting at
1,859
Apr 24 - Apr 29, 2022
Small group
Starting at
1,989
May 1 - May 6, 2022
Small group
Starting at
1,859
Sep 25 - Sep 30, 2022
Small group
Starting at
1,989
Oct 23 - Oct 28, 2022
Small group
Starting at
1,859

At a Glance

Chattanooga is a Tennessee gem — where Southern charm and grand Victorian mansions meet a thoroughly modern metropolis. Embark on unique field trips to places like a wood carving school, a river aquarium and an antique carousel. Discover Cherokee and Civil War battlefields and walk across the world’s longest pedestrian bridge. Stand in the shade of the sandstone boulders of Rock City as you learn about their geological history. Feel the cool spray of America’s deepest waterfall. And soak in the sounds of Appalachian music and the charming chug of a historic Chattanooga choo choo. From high up on Lookout Mountain to the underground Ruby Falls cascade, explore Chattanooga from top to bottom.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Walking up to one mile. Some stairs. Standing in museums for docent talk.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Ride one of the city’s original rail lines through rolling vistas and the Missionary Ridge horseshoe tunnel, and learn about train engineering at the repair shop.
  • Explore Lookout Mountain, with massive rock formations and gardens and Ruby Falls, the nation's largest and deepest underground waterfall.
  • Journey to Chickamauga Battlefield to learn what happened there in 1863 and how it impacted the Civil War.

General Notes

Select dates are designated for small groups and are limited to 24 participants or less.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Justin Strickland
Justin Strickland has been fascinated by trains his entire life. His first "railroad" job was with the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway at the age of 15, where he eventually became a conductor. Justin has also worked with the Southeastern Railway Museum, Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, and the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. He authored the only book dedicated to the Terminal Station in Chattanooga and has been interviewed for the railroad documentary "Tracing the Tracks."

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Justin Strickland
Justin Strickland View biography
Justin Strickland has been fascinated by trains his entire life. His first "railroad" job was with the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway at the age of 15, where he eventually became a conductor. Justin has also worked with the Southeastern Railway Museum, Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, and the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. He authored the only book dedicated to the Terminal Station in Chattanooga and has been interviewed for the railroad documentary "Tracing the Tracks."
Profile Image of Maury Nicely
Maury Nicely View biography
Maury Nicely is a lawyer and historian in Chattanooga, Tenn., and author of the “Chattanooga Walking Tour & Historic Guide” and the “East Tennessee Walking Tour & Historic Guide.” Maury has served on the boards of Chattanooga History Center and Cornerstones, Inc., Chattanooga's historic preservation organization.
Profile Image of Carol Burton
Carol Burton View biography
Carol Burton attended Dalton State College, where she began her 16 years as a Road Scholar coordinator with its Center for Educational Adventure. Married to her childhood sweetheart, she grew up in Hampton, Va., and moved to Georgia in 1970. Carol said she was born with a love for animals and volunteers with her local humane society.
Profile Image of Bud Ellis
When Bud Ellis was an art professor at the University of Tennessee, a student brought in an old carousel horse that needed repair. Bud took the horse apart and studied how it was put together decades ago. This was the start of Bud’s career building carousel horses and, eventually, two complete carousels in Chattanooga, Tenn. Bud is also an excellent woodcarver and artist who teaches students the proper techniques for shading, gold leafing and making the animal look realistic.
Profile Image of Matt Downer
Matt Downer View biography
Matt Downer has been documenting and performing with the elder musicians of the Tennessee Valley region for more than a dozen years. Specializing in pre-1930 string band music on fiddle and banjo, Matt performs regularly with the Old Time Travelers and does solo performances in and around the Tri-State area.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Truth, Lies, and O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster
by Allan J McDonald and James R. Hansen
What they didn't want you to know "We all watched in shock and disbelief when Challenger was lost. Probably no one felt more disappointment and regret than Allan McDonald, who had warned us not to launch that day. His story tells of loss, grief, and the eventual rebuilding and recovery."--Robert "Hoot" Gibson, former Space Shuttle pilot and commander "A major contribution to a difficult episode in the history of human spaceflight."--Roger D. Launius, Division of Space History, Smithsonian Institution
Hidden History of Chattanooga
by Alexandra Walker Clark
The enigmatic hills and woodlands of the Chattanooga area are a sanctuary of history, and the hometown of author Alexandra Walker Clark. Clark has chronicled the history of her hometown for the Chattanooga Times and the Chattanooga History Journal, and in this collection she combines some of her favorite stories to take readers behind the scenes for a fascinating look into the unique history and culture of the region. Absorb the city's rich ethnic diversity, travel down to the hallowed battlefields of Chickamauga and Fort Oglethorpe and grasp the compelling legacy of the Cherokee. This and so much more lies ahead in Hidden History of Chattanooga.
Chattanooga's Terminal Station (TN)
by Justin W. Strickland
Long before Glenn Miller made the world-famous "Chattanooga Choo Choo" an American icon, Chattanooga was already a bustling railroad community. By the beginning of the 20th century, passenger trains overwhelmed Chattanooga's two railroad depots and a larger station was needed. The solution was Terminal Station, which rivaled most Southern depots in size, expense, and aesthetic beauty. Providing transportation to cities throughout the country, the terminal made its mark as the gateway for rail from the agricultural south to the industrial north. Following its closure, the terminal was reopened as a renowned hotel and entertainment complex in 1973, becoming one of Chattanooga's many exciting attractions. Images of Rail: Chattanooga's Terminal Station follows the history of this depot in both stories and photographs.
Silver Linings: My Life Before and After Challenger
by June Scobee Rodgers
Twenty-five years after the very public tragedy of the space shuttle Challenger, June Scobee Rodgers has written her private story—her winding path through childhood poverty, homelessness, and family dysfunction to her teenage marriage and twenty-six years of love and life with Dick Scobee. This is the story, too, of that heartbreaking day in January 1986 when Commander Scobee and his six crewmates “slipped the surly bonds of Earth.” That day, June’s life took a new direction that ultimately led to the creation of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education and to new love and new life with Don Rodgers. Her story of faith and triumph over adversity will inspire readers of every age. June Scobee Rodgers, originally from Alabama, is the widow of Dick Scobee, commander of the space shuttle Challenger. June serves as the Founding Chairman of the Board and as a Founding Director for Challenger Center for Space Science Education. Holding a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University and a Master’s degree from Chapman College, both in Curriculum and Instruction, she is proud of the fact that she has taught in every grade-level classroom from kindergarten through college. June is married to retired Army Lieutenant General Don Rodgers. They live in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and have three grown children and nine grandchildren.
Chattanooga Landmarks (TN): Exploring the History of the Scenic City (The History Press) [Paperback]
by Jennifer Crutchfield
Chattanooga's history and heritage are embodied in the historical sites, structures and groundbreaking feats of engineering that have defined the city from its beginning. Many of the Scenic City's most important landmarks are still preserved. Yet with so many fascinating historic sites and storied destinations, seeing them all is no easy task. Fortunately, Chattanooga Landmarks offers a helpful survey of the most historically significant sites in the city and the surrounding area. Join Chattanooga local Jennifer Crutchfield as she guides you through the city's historic wonders, both natural and man-made. From the top of Lookout Mountain down to the banks of the Tennessee River and through downtown, Chattanooga Landmarks covers the breadth of the historic sites that make this Tennessee city a landmark all its own.
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6 days
5 nights
12 meals
5 B 3 L 4 D
DAY
1
Check-In, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Chattanooga, TN
D
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Chattanooga Downtown

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table in the main lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, other important information, and to confirm when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: In our conference/meeting room of the hotel, we’ll have a buffet dinner with coffee, tea, water: other beverages available for purchase at the bar.

Evening: Orientation: 5:45 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Travel and transfers will be via private motorcoach unless noted otherwise. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. The Group Leader will walk to the riverfront with those who would like to begin becoming familiar with the area. Continue getting to know one another, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Chattanooga History, Master Carver, TN Aquarium, Geology
Chattanooga, TN
B,L,D
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Chattanooga Downtown

Activity note: Walking from the hotel to the aquarium is approximately .3 miles. Walking through the aquarium takes around 1.5 -2 hours.

Breakfast: At the hotel, choose what you like from the breakfast buffet including milk, juices, coffee, hot tea, water.

Morning: We’ll be joined by a local expert for a presentation on the history of Chattanooga. We’ll then ride to the nearby city of Soddy-Daisy for a special and unusual field trip to meet and learn from Master Carver Bud Ellis, who founded his own hand-carving school, the only one of its kind. Ellis is notable for restoring the 1894 Dentzel carousel in Chattanooga's Coolidge Park with its 52 hand-carved figures of camels, fish, giraffes, horses, ostriches, pigs, and rabbits. At the school, we’ll see first-hand examples of students’ carving abilities and also learn about the history of the carousel.

Lunch: At the hotel, we’ll have a lunch buffet with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase from the bar.

Afternoon: After lunch, we will take an excursion to the Tennessee Aquarium. The Aquarium opened May 1, 1992, as the first major freshwater life center in the world dedicated to the understanding, conservation, and enjoyment of rivers. The exhibits guide visitors on a journey from the Tennessee River's source in the Appalachian Mountains, through its midstream, to the Mississippi Delta, and on to the great rivers of the world in Africa, South America, Siberia, and Asia. The journey takes visitors through living environments that accurately re-create the habitats of over 7,000 fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and insects that rely on the river for survival. Visitors leave the Tennessee Aquarium with a new appreciation of the world around them and the animals that inhabit their own backyard.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: Our experts will set the stage for tomorrow’s field trip to explore the geological wonders of Lookout Mountain, Rock City, and Ruby Falls.

DAY
3
Lookout Mountain, Rock City, Ruby Falls, Train History
Chattanooga, TN
B,L,D
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Chattanooga Downtown

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. At Rock City, walking 100-foot trail; 35 stairs in sets of 4-5 stairs with handrails; uneven, some inclines. Ruby Falls entrance building is handicapped accessible; cave not wheelchair accessible. Elevator down to starting point of cave walk, approximately 4/5 of a mile one way; hard packed dirt, uneven paths.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: To begin a full day of exploration, discovery, and wonder, we’ll board the motorcoach with our Group Leader and take a short drive to Lookout Mountain. The mountain was the setting for two historic battles. The so-called “last battle of the Cherokee” took place in August of 1794. The 1863 Battle of Lookout Mountain —also known as the Battle Above the Clouds — sounded the death knell of the Confederacy when Union troops prevailed. As we ponder its history, we can marvel at the panoramic view of seven states. More than 200 million years of weathering have produced the massive, unusually shaped sandstone boulders in what is now known as Rock City, situated at 1,700 feet above sea level atop Lookout Mountain. During this self-directed exploration, you can traverse a walking trail more than 4,000 feet long that features not only these ancient rock formations but caves and gardens with more than 400 species of native plants. You may walk at your own pace and see what interests you most. There are places along the trail to sit as well as easy access back to the starting point. Our Group Leader will be available to answer any questions about trail logistics.

Lunch: At a restaurant on Lookout Mountain.

Afternoon: We’ll hop back aboard the motorcoach for a short drive on the mountain top to Ruby Falls, where we will go on a walking exploration with a local expert. We’ll learn how this extraordinary geological wonder was discovered in 1928 by a team of excavators who came across it 1,120 feet beneath the surface. The waterfall is 145 feet high, falling through a cavern created by the same geological forces as Rock City and Lookout Mountain itself. When they say don’t drink the water, they mean it! The water in Ruby Falls contains high concentrations of magnesium.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: We’ll be joined by a local expert who has been fascinated by trains his entire life. He authored the only book dedicated to the Terminal Station in Chattanooga and has been interviewed for the railroad documentary "Tracing the Tracks." In his presentation, we’ll learn all about Track 29 and the Terminal Station. We’ll then take a short walk to see trains and the grounds of the Choo Choo Hotel, returning to the hotel via trolley.

DAY
4
Music Lecture, Terminal Station, Train Missionary Ridge
Chattanooga, TN
B,L
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Chattanooga Downtown

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking at Missionary Ridge; uneven, unpaved terrain.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll be joined by an Appalachian music specialist who has been documenting and performing music of the Tennessee Valley region for many years. We’ll learn about the types of instruments used in pre-1930 string band music including fiddle and banjo and how they evolved into the popular music we hear today. We’ll then set out on a field trip that will take us Missionary Ridge by train. On the way, we’ll stop at Chattanooga’s Terminal Station, saved from destruction by a song. It began serving passengers in 1906, when the grand building was considered a masterpiece of Beaux Arts design. Train travel declined steadily after World War II, and Terminal Station was finally left vacant in 1970. But then, the strains of Glenn Miller’s “Chattanooga Choo Choo” began tantalizing a group of local businessmen. They invested millions of dollars and transformed it into a lively hotel and entertainment complex. Moving on, we’ll ride to Grand Junction Station for a train trip that will take us along one of the original railroad lines in Chattanooga, crossing four bridges and passing through pre-Civil War Missionary Ridge Tunnel, completed in 1858. It played an important part in the Civil War as we will hear from our local expert. The train stops at East Chattanooga, where we can see the locomotive rotating on a turntable. We’ll have time to look into the railroad restoration shop before re-boarding for the return trip. Back at Grand Junction Station, we’ll return to the hotel by motorcoach.

Lunch: Hotel buffet.

Afternoon: We’ll board the motorcoach again with our Group Leader for a field trip to the Hunter Museum of American Art, situated on an 80-foot bluff on the edge of the Tennessee River. We will explore the exceptional collection — recognized as one of the country's finest — with a museum expert. The Hunter has a particular focus on American art from the Colonial period to the present day. The collection includes contemporary studio glass, furniture, mixed media, paintings, photography, sculpture, and works on paper covering a range of styles and periods. The artists include Ansel Adams, John James Audubon, Thomas Hart Benton, Albert Bierstad, Mary Cassatt, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Dale Chihuly, Currier & Ives, Salvador Dali, Willem de Kooning, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Fitz Henry Lane, Louise Nevelson, Frederick Remington, John Singer Sargent, and Andrew Wyeth, to name a very few. We’ll also be able to enjoy splendid views of the river and surrounding mountains. Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the afternoon is free. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. The free trolley is available and can be boarded 1/2 a block from the hotel.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. The hotel is within walking distance of some of the finest local restaurants.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to attend a performance or other event, explore independently, or relax at the hotel with new Road Scholar friends. The Group Leader will gladly help you with your plans.

DAY
5
Walnut St. Bridge, Dentzel Carousel, Chickamauga Battlefield
Chattanooga, TN
B,D
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Chattanooga Downtown

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walnut Street Bridge is a walk of 2,376 feet depending on personal preference. Driving approximately 1/2 hour to/from Chickamauga Battlefield; walking approximately 1 mile including to Park Ranger station/museum, uneven battlefield terrain.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Next, we’ll board our motor coach and ride to the Walnut Street Bridge. If you’d like to walk, it’s just over 1/2 mile from the hotel. The bridge was erected in 1891 and at 2,376 feet (720 meters) is the world's longest pedestrian bridge. It connects downtown Chattanooga to the north shore. We’ll then walk over the bridge to the 1894 Dentzel carousel in historic Coolidge Park at the other end. (The motorcoach will take anyone who does not want to walk.) This is the antique carousel we learned about on Day 2 that was restored by master wood carver Bud Ellis and a devoted team of craftspeople and volunteers. Bud will meet us at the carousel and talk about his work on the 52 whimsical hand carved animals, the calliope band organ, and ornate, gold leafed benches. We’ll also get to ride the carousel! We’ll then ride back to the hotel.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: During the Civil War, Chattanooga was a key rail center and gateway to the heart of the Confederacy. The Battle of Chickamauga was fought for this prize and is essential to understanding Chattanooga’s history. Only the Battle of Gettysburg was more lethal but, unlike that notorious conflict, Chickamauga was a huge Union defeat. Our expert historian will lead the field trip to Chickamauga Battlefield where we’ll learn what happened September 19-20, 1863, and how it impacted the war.

Dinner: At one of Chattanooga's favorite restaurants, we’ll have a plated and served meal with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure after our closing session in the morning.

DAY
6
About the Challenger Space Center, Program Concludes
Chattanooga, TN
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll be joined by a guest speaker from the Challenger STEM Learning Center who will tell us about its work and educational mission of introducing students to real-world applications. The space shuttle “Challenger” exploded after take-off from the Kennedy Space Center on January 28, 1986. Challenger Learning Centers were developed as a memorial to the seven astronauts who died and to the goal of educating students in STEM: science, technology, engineering, and math. There are now 45 around the world. The first integrated into a university was on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. We’ll also have time for Q&A. The lecture session will end at approximately 9:15 a.m. This concludes our program. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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