Thursday, May 13, 2021 / by Randy Durham
If you are looking for a quiet locale to call your home without being too far from the culture and hustle of Chattanooga, then Chickamauga may be an option for you as a home buyer. The town offers plenty of housing options—ranging from starter homes for first-time buyers to high-end equestrian farms. The downtown area is fairly walkable and offers family-friendly recreation. Chickamauga is also home to Gordon Lee High School, offering free tuition to anyone living within the town’s city limits. The town carries an extensive historical influence in the Greater Chattanooga Area and continues to be a popular area for home buyers opting to live in Georgia over Tennessee. Chickamauga has a picturesque historic district, which contains several antebellum mansions. The famous Gordon Lee mansion was constructed in 1847 and served as a headquarters to General Rosecran and as housing Union soldiers. Today, the estate serves as a museum and locale for many of the local festivals and events. The downtown area was revamped to resemble an early 1900’s streetscape, sporting a number of boutique shops, sidewalk-lined streets, and affordable turn-of-the-century homes comparable to finds in Chattanooga areas like Highland Park and St. Elmo. Aside from its war-torn history, the area retains its natural beauty from the surrounding valleys and mountainsides and small-town charm. Chickamauga is easily accessible to Chattanooga via Highway 193, which runs through the Chattanooga Valley area, which is bordered by the city’s western outskirts along Lookout Mountain. This area also contains High Point Golf Course, with popular newer subdivisions dotting the valleys for house hunters wanting more modern home features. Other popular starter homes can be found in the areas around North Marbletop Rd and areas closer to the Highway 27 bypass, which is more accessible to other surrounding areas like Ringgold and Chattanooga suburbs.
Gordon Lee Mansion
This structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and sits on 13 acres in the middle of town. It was constructed from 1840 to 1847 This is the only remaining structure from the Battle of Chickamauga. The home was used as a Union Army headquarters and served as a hospital during and after the battle. James Lee bought the house from the Gordons after he married into their family. It was remodeled in the early 1900s and remained in the family for over a century before being sold in 1974 to a Chattanooga dentist. The owner sold the residence to the city in 2007. The home is furnished with 18th and 19th-century antiques from the American South and functions today as a museum. Tours are offered every Saturday from 11am to 3pm from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Lee and Gordon’s Mills
This is one of the oldest gristmills in the state and has been on the National Register of Historic places since 1980. It’s commonly used as a venue for special occasions but has a veterans museum. The museum has artifacts from all wars. It’s open every day for limited hours. They also offer canoe and kayak rentals for the surrounding creek.
Walker County Regional Heritage/Train Museum
The first railroad was built in the late 1880s, and a hotel opened in 1891. The stone depot made round trips between Chattanooga and Cedartown, with a stop in Chickamauga. Passenger service halted in the early 1950s. Afterward, the depot was used by the city school system, Walker County, and as a public library until the city took ownership of the property in the late 1990s. Currently, a steam locomotive carries visitors on trips from Chattanooga during eh summer months that stop at the Chickamauga depot.
The battle of Chickamauga was the most significant Union loss in the Western Theater of the Civil War and had one of the higher numbers of casualties. The only body count that tops this battle is Gettysburg. Now a national park, the four thousand-acre areas have a wide range of outdoor activities, guided tours, and monuments scattered throughout.
Southeastern Cave Conservancy
This is one of the largest cave conservation areas. They protect endangered cave-dwelling species and historic artifacts. They have four preserves in Georgia, and the Frick’s Cave Preserve is located in Chickamauga. Permits are free for caving, hiking, and camping.
This area was the main water supply for the early settlers, named for the Cherokee chief Crayfish. It later became the city of Chickamauga in the mid-1900s, is located just across the street from the Gordon Lee mansion. It’s been converted into a park with picnic tables and a gazebo to be enjoyed for free.
These ovens look like beehives and were used to turn coal into coke (a fuel with a high carbon content used in iron ore smelting) to use for the Chattanooga foundries. It was shipped from the Durham coal mines on Lookout Mountain on a railroad constructed in the early 1890s. The ovens operated until the Great Depression when the coal seam was depleted. The railroad from the coal mines was abandoned in 1951. The area was restored to its original appearance in the late 1990s. Each September, the ovens host an arts and crafts festival. The ovens are open with free parking and admission.
Zahnd Wildlife Management Area
This is a 1,400-acre park that is a popular venue for archery and hunting. There is also space for rock climbing and features protected plants and animals. There is free parking and is also a family-friendly area for bird watching and viewing wildlife.