Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tennessee Vacation - Day 3; Part 1

The first part of our third day was spent on Lookout Mountain. Our first stop was to take a ride on the Incline Railway.

Built by John Crass in 1895, The Incline is a technical marvel. At its apex it reaches an incline of 72.7%, making it the steepest passenger railway in the world. The building at the top in the middle is the upper station. You can just make out the black tracks going up to it.

The Incline Railway is run on a single track except for a short two-track stretch at the midway point allowing operation of two cars at one time. Steel cables are connected to both cars, so that one counterweights the other.

At the upper station you can see the giant wheels used to pull the railcars. There's also an elevator-style braking system to stop the cars, should a cable ever snap. Below, the view of Chattanooga.

Today, The Incline still attracts people from around the world and has carried literally millions of residents and tourists up and down historic Lookout Mountain. (Take My Trip)

From there we continued around the mountain to Rock City in Georgia.

Rock City is a 4100-ft walking trail on the brow of Lookout Mountain. The attraction combines scenic overlooks separated by peaceful walks along winding paths through rock gardens and into narrow passageways created by massive granite outcrops.

In the 1920's a man named Garnet Carter began purchasing land at the top of Lookout Mountain. His wife, Frieda, set out to develop the property into one big rock garden, taking string and marking a trail that wound its way around the giant rock formations, ending up at Lover's Leap.

Garnet realized that Frieda had made an attraction that people would be willing to pay for and made Rock City a public attraction in 1932.

By 1935 visitation had dropped dramatically. Carter wanted to increase advertising by offering to paint local barns near roadways for free, if his painter, Clark Byers, could paint three words on either side of the roof - "See Rock City." Byers painted over 900 barn roofs in nineteen states from 1935 to 1969.

One of my favorite spots in Rock City was Rainbow Hall, seen here from the outside.

This is the inside. Isn't it beautiful? [K] would have been mesmerized. I could have stayed here and taken shot after shot but of course I was holding up the line so unfortunately I had to move on.

At the end of the trail you come to this big gate called Fairyland Caverns. Being a huge fan of fairies, I was particularly excited to see it. My first tip off that it wasn't going to be what I expected should have been the metal depiction of Little Red Riding Hood above the sign.

As another blogger put it (quite aptly, I might add) "Fairyland Caverns is Frieda's masterpiece, where Rock City abandons the real world and ventures into its own wobbly realm of fantasy. You descend through a long series of cave-like galleries. Elves and gnomes leer at you from above, perched on trapezes and simulated rock shelves. The ceilings are covered with coral and fake stalactites, all painstakingly glued into place.

Set into the walls are a series of dioramas of children's fairytales. All of the characters are hand-painted in garish fluorescent colors, lit only by ultraviolet light. Each shines in the darkness with a brilliant, radioactive rainbow glow. It is the greatest black light showplace on earth -- and it's terrifying. Frieda has put distorted old peoples' heads onto healthy children's bodies. Huge goggle eyes. Bloated lips. Exaggerated lines and creases on every face.

Fairyland Caverns climaxes at Mother Goose Village, a dark room the size of a small auditorium. It stretches into the black void -- an alien ultraviolet landscape of dozens of intermingled nursery rhymes, topped by a ten-foot-tall castle. Families shuffle through like zombies, barely illuminated by the glowing tableaus. There's Humpty Dumpty. And Little Miss Muffet. And a dish running away with a spoon. Hushed voices mingle with prerecorded children -- or maybe adults trying to sound like children -- singing nursery rhymes over hidden loudspeakers. Who needs drugs? Life doesn't get any freakier than Mother Goose Village and Fairyland Caverns." (Roadside America)

Honestly, I didn't even take any photos in this area. All I wanted to do was get out of the hot, smelly oven of a room where this was all held. It was a horrible way to end a very beautiful and scenic walk through nature. Thankfully I've found that there's a shortcut way to avoid going in there and because of that alone, I would come back to Rock City.


  1. I love that Wonder Woman shirt you've got on!

  2. Wow, Rock City looks super cool...except for the fairyland part. I'd have hightailed it out of there too. Thanks for the warning...if we ever end up there, I think we'll skip Frieda's freak show. The Incline seems really neat too...hard to believe the steepest incline isn't in San Francisco, though. :)