If you came of age in Chattanooga any time since the middle of the 20th century, chances are good that you'll instantly recognize the waterfront location in the accompanying photograph.
The beach area at the south end of the Chickamauga Dam, beside Chickamauga Lake, has been one of the city's favorite picnic and swimming spots for decades.
This photo, taken in the early 1960s, is part of a collection of images recently shared with the website ChattanoogaHistory.com by local attorney Hugh J. Moore Jr., who said the photo was taken either by himself or his father.
Moore said in an email interview that his father, Hugh Moore, was a lieutenant in the Tennessee Valley Authority Public Safety Service, "which provided law enforcement and visitors services on the TVA reservation."
A newspaper clipping from the April 19, 1962, Chattanooga Times notes the dam was the most visited of all of TVA's properties that year, with 157,000 visitors in the first three months alone.
"I believe that the Chickamauga reservation was so heavily visited because it was the only TVA dam in a heavily populated metropolitan area," Moore said.
He said traffic to the lake's beach area picked up dramatically after 1954 when the Thrasher Bridge over Chickamauga Dam was opened.
Launched by history enthusiast Sam Hall in 2014, ChattanoogaHistory.com is maintained to present historical images in the highest resolution available. If you have photo negatives, glass plate negatives or original nondigital prints taken in the Chattanooga area, contact Sam Hall for information on how they may qualify to be digitized and preserved at no charge.
"Before that, if you lived in Hixson, or anywhere west of the river, in order to access the beach, you would have had to drive all the way downtown and then all the way back to the dam via Highway 58," Moore said.
Today, vehicle parking in the beach area is some distance away from the water's edge. In those years, cars parked nearer the water in a lot that looked like an elongated figure-eight from above.
"That picture brings back memories of picnics at the picnic area on the hill above the beach where the parking lot is located now," Moore said.
Newspaper archives also note that the Chickamauga Dam recreation area was used for a variety of community events in the 1960s, including a spring arts show organized by members of Allied Arts and the Junior League.
Also beginning at least in the 1960s, the park adjacent to the beach has been used for school track meets and cross-country races, according to newspaper reports.
The Chickamauga Dam itself was completed in 1940 to help control flooding and to provide hydroelectric power to the Tennessee Valley. It also proved to be a source of public recreation for swimmers, boaters and fishing enthusiasts.
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