Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Incline Railway...

We went on a homeschool co-op field trip yesterday to the Incline Railway in Chattanooga. I was terrified and didn't want to go but Ben promised to hold my hand. :) It turned out to be a wonderful trip. I actually enjoyed myself. After hearing the tram man explain the safety features, I was able to relax and enjoy my ride.
This is a photo taken from the bottom of the track. You can see how steep the grade is when you get close to the top of the mountain! Below it you see a photo taken from the top of the mountain as one of the cars is descending. Then a photo from the inside of the car as we were going down. Try to notice how you can see the valley at the bottom out of the top of the car. That is because we are almost at a vertical position. They designed the car so that you don't feel it as much. The car actually sits at an angle.
Here is a photo of Ben looking through the view meter at the top of the mountain. He kept pointing out all of the things he could see. He saw some "red big trucks" on the Interstate and was very excited about that! Then a photo of my tired kids (and my cranky daughter) on the ride down.

Some interesting facts about the Incline Railway from their official site:
"Following the Civil War, development on Lookout Mountain was minimal. The four-hour trip up Whiteside Pike, a toll road, discouraged many people, and the two-dollar toll discouraged the rest. However, many people were interested in visiting the peak, in part due to the romanticized "Battle Above the Clouds" that occurred on the mountain during The Civil War.

During the railroad boom of the 1880's, speculators decided to develop a hotel on the mountaintop serviced by a narrow gauge railroad that would run up the mountain. A second, broad-gauge line and an earlier incline were also competing for passengers.

On November 16, 1895 the railroad known today simply as "The Incline" opened, rising up the steepest part of Lookout Mountain. Built by John Crass and the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway Company this technical marvel boasted an incline of 72.7% at one point, making it the steepest passenger Incline in the world. Literally millions of residents and tourists have taken this ride up to the top of Lookout Mountain. By 1900 the success of this railway closed down all of its competitors.

Originally the cars were made of wood and powered by huge coal-burning steam engines. Electric power was used after 1911, and it now uses two 100 horsepower motors.

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