Chattanooga Times Free Press - Glass Plates

Select from Images Below

History: Hiding in Plain Sight.

For over twenty years, an enclosed case on the first floor of the Times Free Press offices on East 11th Street displayed 20 photos and their source glass plate negatives. It is part of a larger exhibit featuring historic printing presses, and a teletype machine.

Permission was sought, and granted to scan the negatives at high resolution for the first time. Seven selected images are featured here.

Thank you to the Chattanooga Times Free Press for graciously allowing access to the plates, and for sharing these rare glimpses into our area history.

Opens in new window

Early Tourism

The Civil War guaranteed several decades of reunions. Chattanooga was host to several. This is likely from either one of those, or part of the public excitement over the Spanish American War, as Camp Thomas in Chickamauga served a role in soldier training.

Click to View

Camping in Style

This is one of my favorites. It appears to be camping - complete with the latest audio entertainment. The Edison Gold-Molded cylinders were developed in 1902. Young boys relax with their corn cob pipes. The ladies are enjoying Colliers Magazine - the yet unidentified cover style was popular around 1904.

Click to View

Guns & Melons

These boys, just on the cusp of young men - are enjoying some melons while proudly displaying several firearms. Sadly, the bugle is less respected - resting in the dirt. This is likely at Camp Thomas, 1898.

Click to View

Kids - go feed the chickens.

Well-dressed children feed the chickens as a bemused passer-by looks on. To the right, a calf stands in the shadows.

Click to View


Likely a delivery wagon near Southern Express.

Click to View

Southern Express

The growth of railroads led to the ability to transport valuable packages quickly. The express business flourished in the latter half of the 19th century, and by 1900 there were four principal express companies: Adams, Southern, American, and Wells Fargo. Known before the Civil War as Adams Express, Southern Express business continued to climb into the 1920s.

Click to View

Not that there's anything wrong with that...

I have found that the young generation of 1900 had a great sense of humor and ‘played’ to the camera quite a bit. Men wearing women’s hats, and other gags were common. This one took a bit more effort.

Could it be a depiction of two ladies in a relationship? Sure, but very doubtful in the time period. We will never know for sure.

Click to View