Lookout Mountain

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Lookout Mountain-High Point
A view of the apex of Lookout Mountain
Elevation 2,389 ft (728 m) NAVD 88[1]
Listing Highest point in Walker County[2]
High Point is located in Georgia (U.S. state)
High Point
High Point
Walker County, Georgia, U.S.A.
Range Cumberland Plateau
Coordinates 34°51′49″N 85°23′33″W / 34.863712778°N 85.392452703°W / 34.863712778; -85.392452703Coordinates: 34°51′49″N 85°23′33″W / 34.863712778°N 85.392452703°W / 34.863712778; -85.392452703[1]
Topo map USGS Durham

Lookout Mountain is a mountain ridge located at the northwest corner of the U.S. state of Georgia, the northeast corner of Alabama, and along the southern border of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Lookout Mountain was the scene of the "Last Battle of the Cherokees" during the Nickajack Expedition which took place the 18th century, as well as the November 24, 1863 Battle of Lookout Mountain during the American Civil War.


A panoramic view from the top of Lookout Mountain, overlooking Chattanooga, February 1864, by George N Barnard

Northern and eastern slopes and summit[edit]

Lookout Mountain, along with Sand Mountain to the southwest, makes up a large portion of the southernmost end of the Cumberland Plateau. The summit, called "High Point", is located just east of Thompsonville in Walker County, Georgia, and has an elevation of 2,392 feet (729 m) above sea level. The foothills of the mountain extend into Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.

Near Chattanooga, the caves of Ruby Falls are contained within Lookout Mountain, and the rock formations of the "City of Rocks" (or Rock City) attraction are situated on the ridge. The area is also home to the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway. The mountain is the site of Covenant College and a hang-gliding school. Lookout Mountain is one of the Chattanooga area's most visited tourist attractions. Civil War-related landmarks include "Point Park", operated by the National Park Service, and the Cravens House.

Nearby are Georgia's Cloudland Canyon and Cloudland Canyon State Park.

Southern and western slopes[edit]

The south-western part of Lookout Mountain is situated within Alabama. The Little River, in Little River Canyon on the mountain, is the longest mountaintop river and the only river that begins and ends entirely on top of a mountain. The river is noted for its white water sports, and the DeSoto Falls in DeSoto State Park.

Cherokee Rock Village, a rock-climbing center in western Cherokee County, features climbs for beginner status to expert, and offers views of the Coosa River Basin.

The Noccalula Falls Park, featuring a pioneer village showcasing several nineteenth-century homes, is located at the southern terminus of Lookout Mountain, near Gadsden, Alabama. Local legend claims that the 90-foot falls' namesake, Noccalula, jumped to her death because she could not marry the man she loved.

Seven states[edit]

From the "Rock City" it is said that seven U.S. states can be seen: Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. In reality, on very clear days, some mountains in the Knoxville area of Tennessee can be seen at a distance of about 100 miles, but the curvature of the earth's surface lowers anything in Kentucky, South Carolina, or Virginia to below the horizon.


The name " Lookout Mountain " is said to have come from General Andrew Jackson's forces, but more likely comes from the Cherokee term for "two mountains looking at each other".[3]

The marker at the summit of Lookout Mountain wrongfully claims you can see seven states from the site.

Revolutionary War and aftermath[edit]

During the Revolutionary War, a battle allegedly took place on Lookout Mountain between the forces of John Sevier and those of Chief Dragging Canoe of the Chickamauga Cherokee. Archaeologist and ethno-historian, Raymond Evans, has asserted that such a battle could not have taken place.[4] However, a battle between Sevier's militia forces from the State of Franklin and those of Dragging Canoe did occur there in August 1788.[5]

After the Trail of Tears, land taken from the Indians was purchased by the highest bidder without a lottery of land parcels. This method of distributing land caused much of Lookout Mountain to be owned by a few wealthy Chattanooga families prior to the civil war. The aptly named Summertown, on top of the mountain, was barely accessible from a small rutted turnpike which had been built in 1852 by Col. James A. Whiteside.

Whiteside, a native of Danville, Kentucky, owned a summer home which he converted into a hotel with several cottages. (Naturalists who visited the summit, such as Bradford Torrey, thought the cottages spoiled the environment and made it look like a cheap resort,) Whiteside had purchased much of the land on the mountain’s summit. Another wealthy Chattanoogan, Robert Cravens, had purchased most of the land on the side of the mountain. Cravens was also instrumental in developing the area, and moved into the house he built in 1855. Within a few years, about 25 families summered on the mountain.

Lookout Mountain, as viewed from Signal Mountain, Tennessee.

Civil War[edit]

On November 24, 1863 the Battle of Lookout Mountain was fought on the slopes of mountain. The majority of hand to hand combat took place near Cravens' house about halfway to the summit. Lookout Mountain’s shape and location can in some conditions cause a unique weather phenomenon. After dawn, fog will sometimes descend from the cooler mountain top to the valley below and stop about halfway down, an event which took place the day of the battle and is the reason for its romantic name, the "Battle Above the Clouds". The battle was won by Union forces, enabling them to lift the siege of Union forces in Chattanooga.

Post Civil War[edit]

Early in the 1900s, Lookout Mountain was incorporated as a town, and was considered a peaceful getaway from the rigors of city life. A few days in one of the mountain resorts was thought to be a good cure.

Entrepreneurs began marketing their own attractions in the 1910s and 1920s. Instead of serving as an escape for the wealthy ailing, rich businessmen settled more permanently on the mountain. Garnet Carter, J. B. Pound, O. B. Andrews, and Leo Lambert were a few of the more successful entrepreneurs who created their own attractions. Instead of making their money off of tourist room, board, or transportation, the area's natural attractions were enhanced and fiercely marketed. Sites that had long been popular, such as the 'City of Rocks", Lookout Mountain Cave (closed to the public since 1935), and the functional railroads (now the "Lookout Mountain Incline Railway" billed as "America’s Most Amazing Mile"), were bought, “highly developed”, and marketed. The popular "Ruby Falls Cavern" has been a tourism mainstay for 80 years.

View from the top of Lookout Mountain, March, 2006.


  1. ^ a b "High Point 2 Reset". NGS data sheet. U.S. National Geodetic Survey. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  2. ^ "Lookout Mountain-High Point, Georgia". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ Watson, Stephanie; Lisa Wojna (2008). Weird, Wacky, and Wild Georgia Trivia. Blue Bike Books. p. 61. ISBN 978-1-897278-44-4. 
  4. ^ Evans, Raymond E. (1980). "Was the Last Battle of the American Revolution Fought on Lookout Mountain?". Journal of Cherokee Studies 5 (1): 30–40. 
  5. ^ Evans, Raymond E. (Winter 1977). "Notable Persons in Cherokee History: Dragging Canoe". Journal of Cherokee Studies 2 (1): 176–189. 

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