Remember When, Chattanooga? Recent snow here reminiscent of 1966

Chattanooga News-Free Press archive photo via / This photo shows a major Chattanooga snow storm in January 1966.
Chattanooga News-Free Press archive photo via / This photo shows a major Chattanooga snow storm in January 1966.

Much like in January 1966, Chattanooga recently experienced a widespread snowfall followed by a spell of bitterly cold weather.

But old-timers will tell you the recent snowfall was not the same magnitude as the winter storm that passed through East Tennessee on Jan. 29, 1966 — 58 years ago this week — dropping about 9 inches of snow in the city and plunging temperatures to below zero.

The accompanying photo shows the aftermath of the 1966 storm in downtown Chattanooga at the corner of Ninth Street (now M. L. King Boulevard) and Georgia Avenue. Prominent in the photo are the old Hamilton National Bank building and Town House Hotel. Now, this building is known as One Central Plaza, home to a SmartBank branch.

(READ MORE: This was North Chattanooga in 1960)

On Jan. 30, 1966, the city awoke to a headline in The Chattanooga Times that read: "City under 9 inches of snow. Mercury may plunge to minus 5."

The snowfall was the most the city had experienced in almost a decade, and the low temperature, which eventually dropped to minus 10 on Jan. 31, was the lowest registered in the city to that point in the 20th century. The mercury hadn't dropped to 10 degrees below zero since 1899, according to news reports.

The Associated Press reported the Chattanooga weather was part of a larger storm system that week that "dumped 4 to 10 inches (of snow) in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia."

(READ MORE: Remember When the Town House Hotel Served Guests on Georgia Avenue)

An article in The Chattanooga Times the day after the storm noted the snowfall was one of the heaviest on record here "paralyzing traffic and businesses and leaving the city and its suburbs in ghostly white silence."

Perhaps heeding forecasts, advertisements for snow tires were prominent in the days leading up to the storm. Bill Penney Tire and Marine on Dodson Avenue sold snow tires in the mid-1960s for from $12 to $21 each, depending on the size. For comparable tire prices today, add a zero to those numbers.

That same weekend in Florida, the Tennessee Volunteers played the Syracuse Orangemen in the 1966 Gator Bowl. Tennessee won the game 18-12, and Vols quarterback Dewey Warren was the MVP.

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Remember When, Chattanooga? is published on Saturdays. Contact Mark Kennedy at or 423-757-6645.

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