Over a Century of The Choo Choo

From an industrial hub to a cultural landmark, a brief look at the history of The Choo Choo.

In the late 1800’s through the early 1900’s, Chattanooga was a major hub for both
industrial and passenger railway travel in the South. To cope with the large amount
of traffic, construction began on the Terminal Station in 1906.

The first train arrived at the complete station on December 1, 1909. Soon, it was
serving almost 50 trains a day. Over the years, the station hosted visits from
Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt.


By the late 1940’s, railroads across
the nation saw a decline inservice.

The last train departed the Terminal Station on August 11, 1970.
Southern Railway vacated the station entirely soon after.

The Terminal Station appeared destined for demolition, until a group of local businessmen, led by Beverly Allen, stepped in. Inspired by the theme of the “Chattanooga Choo Choo” song by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, they invested $4 million and reopened it to the public as the “Chattanooga Choo Choo Hilton and Entertainment Complex” in April 1973.

Terminal Station was officially added to National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and is considered one of Chattanooga’s first historic preservation projects.

In 1989, a group of Chattanooga-based investors brought new management and invested another $4 million in renovations to the complex.

Today, the Choo Choo is still going strong. From the beautifully refurbished Chalet Hotel to restaurants, bars, shopping and many other attractions, the property leaves visitors and locals alike with memories they’ll cherish forever.




The Choo Choo Takes the Stage

In the early 1900s, the Choo Choo in Chattanooga, Tennessee, began its journey as a prominent railway hub. Originally known as Terminal Station, it quickly gained significance as a vital transportation hub connecting the city to the rest of the nation. The Choo Choo became a bustling center of activity, facilitating the movement of passengers and goods during this era of industrial growth.


The Golden Age of Rail Travel

As the 1920s unfolded, the Choo Choo entered a golden age of rail travel. The station witnessed an influx of travelers, and its iconic architecture became a symbol of Chattanooga’s prosperity. However, the advent of the 1930s brought challenges with the Great Depression, impacting the station’s operations. Despite economic hardships, the Choo Choo remained a resilient symbol of the city’s identity.


War Efforts and Changing Dynamics

During World War II, the Choo Choo played a crucial role in supporting the war efforts by facilitating troop movements and transporting essential supplies. The post-war era saw changes in transportation dynamics, with the rise of automobiles and air travel. The Choo Choo adapted to these shifts, marking a period of transformation and adjustment.


Decline and Transformation

The 1960s and 1970s marked a decline in rail travel, impacting the Choo Choo’s prominence. In 1970, the station closed its doors as a functioning railway terminal. However, this period also paved the way for a transformative chapter, as community leaders and preservationists worked to repurpose the Choo Choo into a unique destination, preserving its historic charm.


Choo Choo Renaissance

In the 1980s, the Choo Choo experienced a renaissance as it was reimagined as a hotel and entertainment complex. The iconic terminal building was repurposed, and train cars were converted into hotel rooms, creating a one-of-a-kind lodging experience. This revitalization breathed new life into the Choo Choo, transforming it from a relic of the past into a vibrant, contemporary destination.


Iconic Landmark and Cultural Hub

As the 21st century unfolded, the Choo Choo solidified its status as an iconic landmark and cultural hub in Chattanooga. The hotel and entertainment complex continued to draw visitors, offering a nostalgic glimpse into the city’s railway history. The Choo Choo became more than a transportation hub; it evolved into a symbol of Chattanooga’s ability to preserve its heritage while embracing modernity.


Northpond Partners and Trestle Studio are set to revitalize Chattanooga’s Choo Choo in 2024. This dynamic development combines historical preservation with modern flair, promising a unique experience that celebrates the landmark’s rich heritage. The project aims to transform the Choo Choo into a vibrant hub for culture, entertainment, and community engagement, ensuring it remains a symbol of the city’s past while embracing its future.