James Point

James Point
From Bradys Point ~1913

8x10 Glass Plate Negative - SOURCE: Matt L. Brown Family

This view is, with considerable certainty, from a rare 8x10 inch glass plate positive copy of an original William Stokes negative.

Hewn from the Mountainside

Here we see the original electric railroad that shared the roadway; ‘Signal Mountain Boulevard’. In 1958, it became part of the 758-mile long U.S. Route 127, with the southern terminus just a few miles away at the intersection of Hwy 27.

To engineer this route, fifty thousand cubic yards of rock was dynamited from the face of the cliff in constructing the 1,800-ft. section of the road bed around this projection, known as James Point.

The rail line took a different path up half the mountain
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Elevated tracks on the approach to the base of the mountain.
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Water hazard: Jacksons Bar
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Locomotive Engineers Journal, 1915

Rail Curves

From downtown Chattanooga to the summit of the mountain six miles distant the cars of this line climb the mountain sides through an elevation of 1400 feet. Reaching the base of the mountain at Glendale by comparatively easy grades and curves, the line at this point starts to climb on a 3% grade reaching a point known as Elks Curve where, on a curve of 42 degrees, the line abruptly doubles back in the opposite direction and proceeds on a 5% per cent grade to Richmond Curve where it again turns back toward the summit.

Chattanooga's Master Builder

The Chattanooga Traction Company, and Signal Mountain as a community, was developed by C. E. James. It was originally conceived as a means of transporting patrons from the valley to his mountaintop hotel, the Signal Mountain Inn.

In 1926, the monument seen here was dedicated and placed on the large rock at James Point. However, its location adjacent to the busy road made it difficult to safely view. I saw it hundreds of times as a child - but only as a blur as we drove by. In recent years it was moved to the top of the mountain; appropriately next to where the rail cars full of passengers would have passed by years earlier - on their way to the Signal Mountain Inn.

“Charlie” James, as he was endearingly known, was endowed with a rare vision, an indomitable courage and exceptional capacity for achievement. His abounding faith in Chattanooga is evidenced by steel and stone throughout the city and county. He planned wisely and well. He was the leader in industrial endeavor, a superman in the successful promotion of material affairs throughout the Chattanooga district. This memorial was erected by a grateful community in appreciation of Mr. James’ outstanding contributions to its welfare.
October, 1926 

Photo by: Sam Hall

Remnants of the past sit idle.