145 Acres in Historic Lookout Valley Protected (TN)

Chattanooga, TN, 11/9/2006: U.S. Congressman Zach Wamp (TN-3) joined the National Park Service, The Trust for Public Land (TPL), and other local officials, non-profits and supporters today to announce and celebrate the inclusion of 145 acres of historic land in the Lookout Valley as part of the Chickamauga Chattanooga National Military Parkland that figured prominently in the Union assault on Lookout Mountain.

Project supporters gathered at the intersection of the Garden and Cummings Highway overlooking the historic rail road and battlefield site.

Congressman Wamp, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, secured federal funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to conserve the land. Speaking at the event, Wamp said, “It is extremely important to preserve these historical lands so that generations to come can have a rich, tangible understanding of their American heritage.”

“American history will be protected at Wauhatchie station, a popular visitor spot which creates a civil war battlefield experience,” said Senator Bill Frist. “I want to thank the combined efforts of Senator Alexander and Representative Wamp who worked so hard to see this become a reality. I am excited that visitors will be able to continue to enjoy the beauty of the land and the history it holds.”

“Wauhatchie station is a part of our nation’s civil war history and I am proud to have had the opportunity to work with Sen. Frist and Cong Wamp to insure this site is protected for future generations,” said Senator Alexander. “Preserving sites like Wauhatchie Station helps people understand and appreciate the events that make up our history.”

TPL, a national non-profit land conservation organization, worked with several landowners over a period of 4 years to purchase property that was identified as historically significant by National Park Service Staff. TPL has been able to knit back together over 200 acres of battlefield land along Lookout Creek with an additional 200 acres to be purchased in 2007.

“We are delighted to have played a part in making this very important addition to the Chickamauga Chattanooga National Military Park happen,” said Rick Wood, field office director for The Trust for Public Land in Chattanooga. “Former Civil War sites and historically important properties inside our national parks are disappearing at an alarming rate. TPL thanks Congressman Wamp and Senators Bill Frist and Lamar Alexander for their leadership in securing critical federal funding for this effort.”

Because of the critical strategic location of the city of Chattanooga, this area was the site of several battles during the Civil War, including the “battle above the clouds” on Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. In the Wauhatchie Valley, across Lookout Creek from Lookout Mountain, several engagements occurred that helped set up the Battle of Lookout Mountain. In the pre-dawn hours of Oct. 27, 1863, Union forces attacked Confederate troops at Brown’s Ferry, allowing the Federals to build a pontoon bridge designed to bring needed supplies from Bridgeport, Alabama to the starving Union forces in Chattanooga. The next day, Confederate forces commanded by General James Longstreet engaged Union forces positioned at the Wauhatchie Railroad Junction in an attempt to regain control of the strategic valley and turn back the Union supply train. The mission failed and the Union Army gained an important foothold before advancing on Lookout Mountain and eventually gaining control of Chattanooga.

A month later, the Union army was fully supplied, reinforced, and prepared to confront the Confederates. On the morning of November 24, General Hooker ordered General Geary’s division to advance eastwards from Wauhatchie, cross Lookout Creek, ascend Lookout Mountain to the base of the palisades near the summit, pivot to the north, and sweep all Confederate soldiers off the mountain. After passing between two hills that along with a heavy fog effectively screened his movements, Geary’s scouts found a crossing of Lookout Creek upon the supports of an old mill dam at the Light mill. The nearby Light house, described by George Collins of the 149th New York infantry regiment as “a small Tennessee house, with a large piazza on its western side,” was soon occupied by Federal medical personnel anticipating the need for hospital space for the ongoing battle. By the end of the day, Lookout Mountain had been cleared of Confederates, and the stage was set for the climactic attack on Missionary Ridge a day later, resulting in a decisive Union victory.

Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park, created in 1890 and located in both Georgia and Tennessee, was the first national military park in the nation.

The Wauhatchie battlefield projects are part of TPL’s Heritage Lands Program. Wood said, “There is no question that we are extremely delighted to have been part of saving this historically significant site. And we’re extremely thankful for people like Congressman Wamp who recognize the importance of protecting and expanding America’s national parks. Not every historical site can or will be saved; but there are critically important ones like the Wauhatchie Battlefield whose protection today will ensure that our nation’s civil war heritage will be there for our children and their children to enjoy forever. And that makes what we’re doing today all the more important.”

About the National Park Service: The National Park Service cares for nearly 400 parks that represent our nation’s most precious natural and cultural heritage, providing invaluable opportunities for recreation, appreciation of beauty, historical reflection, cultural enrichment, and environmental education. For more information, see ww.nps.gov.

About TPL: TPL, a national private nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1972, protects land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. Across the nation, TPL has saved more than 2.2 million acres of land.

Through its Heritage Lands Program (one of TPL’s five major initiatives), The Trust for Public Land is actively working to protect at-risk Civil War landmarks-especially in the Southeast. Over the last few years, TPL helped expand Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park, transferring about 500 acres to the National Park Service in six separate transactions. TPL has recently closed on 120 acres for addition to the military park and is preparing to add another 200 acres to the park’s inventory.

TPL is also working to preserve the land around historic Banning Mills along Snake Creek in Whitesburg, Southwest Georgia-one of Sherman’s targeted but never fulfilled priorities during his tumultuous campaign through the South-and is also trying to save Morris Island in the Charleston Harbor, South Carolina- site of an important Civil War engagement featured in Edward Zwick’s acclaimed 1989 movie Glory (see Camp Talk, Morris Island Preservation, Blue & Grey Magazine, Spring 2006).