Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Missionary Ridge Trolley

Marker ID:  
Location: at the intersection of South Crest Rd and Birds Mill Rd, Chattanooga, TN
County: Hamilton
Coordinates: N 35° 1.788    W 085° 15.442
  35.0298    -85.25736666
Waymark: None


You are standing at the crossroad where the trolley came up Birds Mill Road (shown below in 1894), crossed Crest Road, and then continued on Rosemont Avenue.

The Missionary Ridge Trolley allowed Missionary Ridge to grow after the Civil War. The addition of the trolley brought new homes, a school, fire hall, and small stores - even a city was formed in 1923.

In February 1887, George M. Sherwood, a resident of the Ridge, incorporated the Mission Ridge Incline Railway. This line incorporated a switchback near Shallowford Road to allow the trolley to attack the steep grade of Birds Mill Road. Seven stops were on this line from its start at Ridgedale to McCallie Avenue, Indian Springs, Shallow Ford, Crescent Hill, Bragg's Headquarters, and finally, Thurman Springs. The trolley made eight daily trips along the seven stops. The three mile trip took seventeen minutes to complete.

In 1889, the controlling interest in the Mission Ridge Incline Railway was purchased by the Chattanooga Electric Street Railroad Company (CESRC) that electrified the trolley.

The same year, CESRC absorbed the horse-drawn trolley line, the City Street Railroad Company, and renamed itself the Chattanooga Electric Railway Company in 1891.

In 1909, E.W. Clark & Company, a Philadelphia-based business purchased the controlling interest in Chattanooga Electric Light Company and the controlling interest in the Chattanooga Electric Railway Company to form the Chattanooga Railway & Light Company (CR&L).

In 1912, the company replaced the dangerous switchback with a sweeping horseshoe curve (see map) that allowed through-cars to travel from Chattanooga to Missionary Ridge.

All trolley rides were only a nickel, but for an extra dime, riders could enjoy limited-stop service, revolving single seats, electric fans, plush white carpet, and a fold-out card table to the rear of the car.

Missionary Ridge trolley service ended in 1945.

Erected by Missionary Ridge Neighborhood Association.