Last week in the Special Collections, I had an interesting question about the historic landscape of the university. The question was related to some fragments of old steel railroad tracks that can be found in what amounts to a drainage ditch in between the Fine Arts building and the library parking garage. These remnants would seem to indicate that a rail line once ran through the area, but finding pictorial proof can often prove challenging.
Upon consulting a poster produced as a supplement (March 23, 1887) to the Chattanooga Daily Times (which ran from 1875-1965) , the rail line’s existence was confirmed. Viewed on the image below, the rail line ran from the rail yard, located at the top of the map, down through what is now our university’s campus. I believe it is also interesting to see the original footprint of our university in it’s infancy compared with our current footprint. Old Main, the university’s first building, was erected during the first incarnation of the university (called Chattanooga University-circled in red on the map) and occupied a portion of the space that Hooper-Race now covers. To be more specific, Hooper-Race was actually built around Old Main before the building was torn down.
The green box in the image below represents (very roughly) the current footprint of the university. You might recognize most of Baldwin Street in its current state as “Cardiac Hill“. Palmetto Street now extends out to 3rd Street and residential areas took up the bulk of what would later become UTC. A final interesting tidbit on the map (unrelated to UTC), is Old Fort Wood (see purple arrow) which was a large stronghold constructed by Union forces in 1863 during their occupation of Chattanooga. The fort was dismantled in 1888 and the area became a residential neighborhood we now know as Fort Wood.
click on the image to enlarge