Lookout Mountain Incline Railway


Lookout Mountain Incline Railway
A view down the 1-mile (1.6 km) length of the railway from the top of Lookout Mountain
Lookout Mountain Incline Railway is located in Tennessee
Lookout Mountain Incline Railway
Lookout Mountain Incline Railway is located in the United States
Lookout Mountain Incline Railway
Location3917 St. Elmo Avenue, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37409
Coordinates35°0′28″N 85°20′8″W / 35.00778°N 85.33556°W / 35.00778; -85.33556Coordinates: 35°0′28″N 85°20′8″W / 35.00778°N 85.33556°W / 35.00778; -85.33556
BuiltNovember 16, 1895 (126 years ago) (1895-11-16)
ArchitectJosephus "Jo" Conn Guild Sr.
NRHP reference No.73001774[1]
Added to NRHPApril 26, 1973

The Lookout Mountain Incline Railway is a 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge[2] inclined plane funicular railway leading to the top of Lookout Mountain from the historic St. Elmo neighborhood of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Passengers are transported from St. Elmo's Station at the base, to Point Park at the mountain summit, which overlooks the city and the Tennessee River. It is just a short drive to three of Chattanooga's main tourist attractions, Ruby Falls, Cavern Castle, and Rock City.[3] The railway is approximately one mile (1.6 km) in length (single-track except for a short two-track passing loop at the midway point, allowing operation of two cars at one time). It has a maximum grade of 72.7%, making it one of the world's steepest passenger railways.[4] It obtained Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark status in 1991. The cable system for the cars was made by the Otis Elevator Company.


The Lookout Mountain Incline Railway (Incline No. 2) was opened on November 16, 1895 by the Chattanooga Incline and Lula Lake Railway and functions as a major mode of transportation to the top of the mountain. It was the second of two inclines constructed on Lookout Mountain; the first was the Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain Railway (Incline No. 1), which operated from 1886 to 1895 and dismantled in 1900. Service was disrupted twice by fires that destroyed the powerhouse, upper station and cars stored there overnight (the first fire occurring on December 13, 1896 and the second on March 24, 1919). Both fires put the railway temporarily out of service, substitute service being provided by the Chattanooga Railway and Light Company's Lookout Mountain route. The railway was sold in the 1940s to Southern Coach Lines and is now operated by the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority, the area's public transit agency.

The Incline Railway is a well-known and beloved Chattanooga landmark; the railway has been depicted in numerous regional and national publications, including being on TV, most prominently on Larry the Cable Guy's Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy in February 2011.[5] The railway is one of the main tourist attractions in the Chattanooga area, totaling over 100,000 visits annually.[6] The top station features an observation deck and a gift shop.

A foggy day on the railway. Chattanooga is barely visible in the background.

See also


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  2. ^ "Trams of the World 2017" (PDF). Blickpunkt Straßenbahn. January 24, 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 16, 2017. Retrieved February 16, 2017.
  3. ^ Wohlfarth, J. (2007). See Rock City. Cincinnati Magazine, Vol. 41(Issue 1), P39-40, 2p.,
  4. ^ Directions and FAQ
  5. ^ Staff (February 16, 2011). "Incline Railway on the History Channel". Chattanoogan.com. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  6. ^ "How Chattanooga made $1 billion last year from tourism". timesfreepress.com. 2015-05-13. Retrieved 2019-07-22.

External links

  • Lookout Mountain Incline Railway official web site
  • HawkinsRails' Lookout Mtn Incline Railway page