Lookout Mountain Incline Railway – Lookout Mountain, Tennessee - Atlas Obscura

Lookout Mountain Incline Railway

Lookout Mountain, Tennessee

This funicular railway rumbles along for a mile up the nearly vertical face of Chattanooga’s Lookout Mountain. 


A long, high ridge straddling the border of Tennessee and Georgia, Lookout Mountain set the historic stage for the Civil War’s “Battle Above the Clouds,” and today a little railway will take you there.

Before there was a railway up and down the side of the mountain, the steepness of the grade meant a series of cumbersome switchbacks along rutted old paths. But with the help of the Otis Elevator Company in 1895, a funicular pulley system was laid out to take visitors up and down the steep mountainside.

The Railway is just about a mile from bottom to top and has varying degrees of incline. At its steepest, the incline hits 72.7 percent.So ingenious is the design and function of the railway that in 1991 — almost a hundred years after it was built — it was declared a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. 

Still rumbling along today, the Lookout Mountain Incline serves Chattanoogans, tourists and Civil War historians alike, a little railway above the clouds.

Know Before You Go

Not far from I-24, and just a couple of miles north of the Georgia border.

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February 29, 2016

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