Chickamauga: A town embracing its history

Chickamauga: A town embracing its history

September 18th, 2011 by Andy Johns in Glimpse 2011

Members of the Greater Rome, Ga., Young Marines look off Wilder Tower at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.

Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press.

The name Chickamauga conjures up images of a bloody battle in the 1860s.

But locals say visitors should think more of a peaceful Southern town in the 1950s.

"People just think of Mayberry when they think of Chickamauga," said Richard Barclift, tourism director for the city. "It's kind of a small, unique Southern town where people don't lock their doors at night."

Tourists can choose among pizza, Mexican food, Philly cheesesteaks and other dining options as they browse the quaint boutiques in the cannon-lined downtown, which has undergone a million-dollar facelift in the past few years. The town also is becoming known as the home to Old Mill Kettle Corn popcorn, which is produced on Gordon Street and shipped around the nation.

But the shop owners and residents don't want anyone to forget the Civil War history that took place a few miles away.

In 1863, more than 150,000 Union and Confederate troops clashed at Chickamauga Battlefield in what turned out to be one of the last Confederate victories of the war. People have been coming to Chickamauga since the 1890s to relive some of the actions and see the town's antebellum mansion and mill.

In the end, tourists are likely to enjoy Chickamauga, no matter what decade they're looking for.

AT A GLANCE

-- Population: 3,101.

-- Best things to do: Lee and Gordon's Mills, Gordon-Lee Mansion, Historic Train Depot and Museum (10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, $2 admission), Veterans of All Wars Museum, paddling on the West Chickamauga Creek, shopping downtown.

-- Biggest employers: Shaw Industries, Crystal Springs Printworks.

-- Miles from downtown Chattanooga: 15.

-- Landmarks and geographic features: Crawfish Spring, coke ovens.

-- Date founded: Incorporated 1891, courthouse built in 1820.

-- Historic info: The Cherokee Indians farmed the land that is now Chickamauga until their removal in 1838. More than 150,000 soldiers were involved in the nearby Battle of Chickamauga in 1863.

-- Most-famous resident: Former U.S. Rep. Gordon Lee.

-- Unique traditions: Down Home Days, first weekend in May; War Between the States Day, third weekend in September; Christmas in the Streets, Saturdays in December.

-- Fun fact: The name Chickamauga is said to either be Cherokee or Creek for "home of chiefs."

-- Website: www.cityofchickamaugageorgia.org.