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Chattanooga News-Free Press archive photo via ChattanoogaHistory.com / Mexican President Miguel Alemán visited the Chickamauga Dam in 1947.

In May 1947, Chattanoogans welcomed President Miguel Alemán of Mexico to the city.

An estimated 25,000 to 50,000 citizens lined Chattanooga streets to try to get a glimpse of Alemán, who was here on a two-day fact-finding mission involving the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Many of the people lining roads during the motorcade were waving paper Mexican flags that were printed on the front page of the Chattanooga News-Free Press prior to Alemán's visit, according to news reports.

Cadets at McCallie School lined roadsides near the school to salute Alemán; and school children from Daisy, White Oak and Signal Mountain elementary schools decorated downtown department store windows with artwork featuring Mexican themes.

Crowds were reportedly somewhat disappointed that Alemán's motorcade from Lovell Field to downtown Chattanooga was accomplished inside a Packard sedan, where he was barely visible to onlookers.

In this May 1947 photo, Alemán is shown visiting Chickamauga Dam to observe the wonders of hydroelectric power. The dam had opened a few years earlier.

Alemán, who is credited with modernizing mid-20th century Mexico, was here to study TVA's effort to harness the Tennessee River for flood control and economic development.

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Chattanooga News-Free Press archive photo via ChattanoogaHistory.com / Mexican President Miguel Alemán visited the Chickamauga Dam in 1947.

The photo is part of an archive of vintage photos presented at ChattanoogaHistory.com, a photography website curated by history buff Sam Hall.

Alemán stayed overnight in Chattanooga and was feted by the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce at a dinner in his honor at the Fairyland Club on Lookout Mountain, where he was made an honorary citizen of the Scenic City.

"I'm happy to visit the United States and especially happy for the opportunity to visit Chattanooga," Alemán said in an introductory speech.

Alemán, who served as Mexican president from 1946 to 1952, was the first civilian president of Mexico after a series of military leaders following the Mexican Revolution, a military conflict that ended in 192o.

Alemán was 46 years old at the time of his visit here in 1947, and he died in 1983.

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Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPcolumnist.

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