by Bob Ciminel
July 30, 2004
Railroad aficionados, like myself, hold Chattanooga in high regard because it was the terminus of the Western and Atlantic Railroad, which originated in Atlanta. The W&A still exists, owned by the State of Georgia and leased to the CSX Transportation Company. The W&A was the scene of the "Great Locomotive Chase" when Major Andrews and his team attempted to steal the "General." The "General" was stored in Chattanooga for many years until the Southern Railway stole it and put it on display. The General now resides in the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Kennesaw, Georgia.
There is much history surrounding Chattanooga, but what really makes the city so important to Southern history is this: Chattanooga is the home of the Moon Pie. Yep, before the Yankees brought marijuana, crack, and designer drugs to the South, we Southerners got high on RC Cola and Moon Pies. Think about it; a big shot of caffeine and a large dose of sugar and chocolate will certainly pick you up. Who needs that other crap?
One stop I always make when visiting Chattanooga is the Tennessee Aquarium. Besides having one of the best displays of the flora and fauna of the Tennessee River, outside the aquarium is a very sobering memorial to the Cherokee Indians. The memorial contains plaques with excerpts from the speeches and declarations describing how the U.S. Government bribed, lied, and disenfranchised the Cherokee Nation in the 1800s.
I will be working at the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant, named after George Gist (Sequoyah); the Cherokee Indian who invented the 86-letter Cherokee alphabet known as "Talking Leaves" because it used symbols to represent phonetic speech sounds of the Cherokee language. The alphabet eventually led to the first Cherokee newspaper. With that, I will close this article with the most eloquent praise of a Native American I have ever read: