Ask Lookout Mountain leaders what the best thing about their community is and the first word you're likely to hear is "safe."
It's a safe community to go outside and walk, jog, or hike the spiderweb of trails that wind up, down and over the mountain. It's safe for elders to walk their dogs or parents to stroll with babies.
"My children walk to school. They can walk on the common and play sports," says Lucia Hopper, who operates the Lookout Mountain Mirror, the community paper that keeps neighbors up to date on local events and personalities.
Top-notch police and medical response play into that sense of safety, say the mayors of the community, which straddles the Tennessee/Georgia line.
For one thing, Lookout Mountain, Tenn., Mayor Carol Mutter says, after a series of burglaries a few years ago, neighbors on both sides of the line chipped in to buy cameras that record images of every car and every license plate that passes through town.
"We think it's made a difference," Mutter says. "If something occurs, it probably got on the camera."
There's also a "wonderful group of paramedics and EMTs and there's a lot of cooperation" between them, she says. The average response time for a medical call is three minutes, says Mutter.
"If there's an emergency, it doesn't matter what side of the border you're on, both sides respond," says Dwight Montague, town consultant for the Tennessee side.
Numerous trails spiderweb the mountain for outdoorsy types, and the town common is popular for its tennis courts, ball fields and pavilion. David Bennett, mayor of Lookout Mountain, Ga., says 500 youngsters participate in recreation programs, and he and Mutter tout the annual Commons Camp, where kids can play games or sports or do crafts under supervision during summer break.
Lookout and Fairyland elementaries are among the top schools in their respective states. The spring Fairyland Festival and fall Lookout Mountain Carnival help pay for extras for their respective schools.
"It is kind of like Mayberry," says Hopper, referring to the fictional North Carolina town portrayed in the beloved 1960s TV series, "The Andy Griffith Show."
That persona is even evident at the local service station, which will pump your gas and wash your windshield for you. Mutter praises the locally owned businesses that differ from the cookie-cutter corporate stores filling the valley below: Mountain Escape Spa; Market on the Mountain, with its mouthwatering deli case; and Cafe on the Corner, with a fresh take on Southern food.
The town has its own veterinary and human doctors, and Fairyland Pharmacy still does old-fashioned deliveries.
"Which is so wonderful," Montague says. "I can call in my refill at night and the next morning it's hanging on my door."
BY THE NUMBERS
WHO WE ARE
Median household income: $120,875
Population: 1,930 (2016 5 year estimates)
Median age: 45.6
Black or African-American: 0.6%
Two or more races: 1%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race): 1.2%
*Does not equal 100% due to overlap.
Median household income: $105,296
Population: 1,754 (2016 5 year estimates)
Median age: 41.3
American Indian/Alaskan: 2%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race): 1.6%
*Does not equal 100% due to overlap.
Source: American FactFinder
WHERE WE LIVE
Median home price: Tennessee, $490,000; Georgia, $228,000
Property values: Up 23.2% from 2016
Number of housing units: Tennessee, 824; Georgia, 699
Source: Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors 2017 annual report
Lookout Mountain Elementary (TN, K-5)
Proficiency (TVAAS): 5/5 overall, 5/5 in literacy, 5/5 in numeracy
»In 2017, Lookout Mountain Elementary was named a state Reward School for student achievement. The school's gym is available for public use and its old-fashioned, wood-floored roller skating rink is open for community uses such as parties.
Source: 2017 State Report Card, school's website
Fairyland Elementary (GA, preK-5)
Governor's Office of Student Achievement grade: A
»Fairyland Elementary is in the top 1% of preK through fifth-grade elementary schools in Georgia, as indicated by the school's College and Career Ready Performance scores. The public is allowed to use the school's gymnasium facilities.
Source: Georgia 2017 School Report Card, school's website
Lookout also houses Covenant College, a private, Christian liberal-arts school offering undergraduate and graduate programs in a variety of disciplines. For more information, visit covenant.edu or call 706-820-1560.
Source: Covenant's website
*The Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System scale runs from 1-5, with 1 denoting the least effective schools/districts and least amount of progress toward the Standard for Academic Growth.
WHAT WE DO FOR FUN
Rock City: A mountaintop playground of rock formations, native-plant gardens and hiking trails. DON'T MISS Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village. 1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain, Ga. Call 706-820-2531 or visit seerockcity.com.
Ruby Falls: Billed as the tallest underground waterfall in America, there's also a beautiful view from its mountaintop tower. And the ZIPstream Aerial Adventure offers zipline courses and multiple suspended obstacle courses and a 40-foot climbing tower. 1720 South Scenic Hwy., Chattanooga. Call 423-821-2544 or visit rubyfalls.com.
Lula Lake Land Trust: Land in the Rock Creek watershed that has been conserved through public and private efforts. The public can visit on Open Gate Days: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the first and last Saturday of the month, and noon to 5 p.m. the first and last Sunday of the month. There are several trails along Rock Creek to Lula Falls, and the Cloudland Connector Trail allows hiking, biking and horseback riding in some areas. 5000 Lula Lake Road, Lookout Mountain, Ga. Call 706-820-0520 or visit lulalake.org.
Incline Railway: With its top on the mountain and its foot in St. Elmo, it carries visitors a mile up or down Lookout Mountain at a nearly 73 percent grade, making it the world's steepest passenger railway. 3917 St Elmo Ave., Chattanooga. Visit ridetheincline.com for tickets.
Battles for Chattanooga Museum: Features a digital projection-mapped show that allows visitors to visualize the Civil War events that took place in November 1863. The museum also features displays of artifacts and weapons. 1110 E. Brow Road, Lookout Mountain, Tenn. Call 423-821-2812 or visit battlesforchattanooga.com.
Point Park: A unit of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, this 10-acre park is a memorial built on the site of the Confederate Army's bastion as it tried to rout Union troops from Chattanooga. A paved path guides visitors past historic tablets and monuments, artillery positions and a scenic overlook. Learn more at nps.gov/chch/learn/lookout-mountain.htm.
Lookout Mountain Club: A private organization formed by the combination of two historic clubs, the Lookout Mountain Golf Club and the Fairyland Club. Its 18-hole golf course was designed in 1925 by legendary designer Seth Raynor, and the Fairyland Club opened in 1926 as an inn. Visit lookoutmountain.club to learn more.