Lookout Mountain


After the Civil War, few people made the four-hour trip up Whiteside Pike, a two-dollar toll road, to visit the peak made famous by the "Battle Above the Clouds." Then came the railroad boom, and speculators decided to develop a hotel on the mountaintop that would be serviced by a short railroad. In 1885, John T. Crass formed the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway Company and built a steam-powered incline up the steepest part of the mountain. The engineering marvel boasted an incline of 72.7% near the top, making it the world's steepest passenger railway. Today the refurbished incline is powered by two 100-hp electric motors.

Activity Details

Activity Type:Trips and Destinations
Discipline:Civil, Mechanical
Topic(s):Space/Transportation
Grade:K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Time:Full day

Fun Fact:When General U.S. Grant visited Lookout Mountain in 1863, it took close to four hours for him to negotiate the rough wagon road to the top by horse and carriage. Today, visitors can ride up the mountain in about 45 minutes and take just a short walk farther to reach the same bluff where Grant stood and admired the view.