Dino Selimagic of the National Park Service works Thursday to install a gate that will be used to close off access from Lytle, Osburn and North Longhollow Roads to the Chickamauga National Battlefield at the Wilder Tower. The gate will be locked starting Monday.Photo by John Rawlston.
National Park Service employees on Monday will close a back road into Chickamauga Battlefield that they believe has served as a short-cut for thieves responsible for car break-ins and vandals who damage monuments that commemorate Civil War soldiers.
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park officials have decided to close the Long Hollow Road Extension directly west of the Wilder Brigade Monument -- but the park will still allow pedestrian and bicycle access.
"We've had an increase in car burglaries, so we think that's used [by burglars] as a quick access out of the park," Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park Superintendent Cathy Cook said. "We're [also] concerned about vandalism to the monuments."
Another reason park officials wanted to close the Long Hollow Road Extension is because it's close enough to several battlefield monuments that a driver might accidentally hit one, Chief Ranger Todd Roeder said.
Park officials announced Feb. 14 that they were considering closing the road and asked for public comments.
"We had letters and calls from some of the homeowners," Roeder said.
He said the park's neighbors wanted to at least be able to enter on foot or bicycle.
"That was their concern -- that it was an access point to the park," he said.
The park eventually will install a permanent gate closing the road that allows pedestrian and bike access, Cook said.
Other access points remain from the west side of Chickamauga Battlefield, Roeder said, including Wilder Road off Highway 27.
The Wilder Brigade Monument near the Long Hollow Road Extension is an iconic 85-foot-tall stone tower erected to honor Union regiments from Indiana and Illinois. Those regiments were armed with Spencer seven-shot repeating rifles that helped them ward off superior numbers of Confederate soldiers.
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6651.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.