The historic Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel and the song for which it was named were commemorated on Dec. 7, 2020, with the unveiling of a Tennessee Music Pathways marker. Millie Dewitz, granddaughter of "Chattanooga Choo Choo" songwriter Mack Gordon, was present for the commemoration. Dewitz, along with Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Mark Ezell, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, Chattanooga Tourism Co. Cultural Tourism Director Donna Elle Harrison and Chattanooga Choo Choo President Adam Kinsey, unveiled the marker outside the entrance to the hotel.
Written in 1941 as a song for “Sun Valley Serenade” — the movie debut of big bandleader Glenn Miller — “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” became a top-selling pop hit during the early years of World War II. It spent nine weeks at No. 1 on the pop charts and has been revived frequently. In 1942, “Chattanooga Choo Choo” was presented with the first gold record after it sold a million copies. While not the first record to sell one million, it was the first in 15 years and breezed through the million mark, which was a significant achievement.
Among many songs about Chattanooga, “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” remains the best known. At one time, the city’s passenger rail hub, Terminal Station, was a stop for up to 50 trains per day. Partly because of the enduring appeal of the song, a group of local investors bought the property and reopened it on April 11, 1973, as a hotel and entertainment complex named after the song. Now, 47 years later, the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo is one of the city’s top downtown entertainment destinations.
ABOUT TENNESSEE MUSIC PATHWAYS: Launched by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development in 2018, Tennessee Music Pathways is an online planning guide that connects visitors to the state’s rich musical heritage at tnmusicpathways.com. From the largest cities to the smallest communities, Tennessee Music Pathways stretches across all 95 counties and features hundreds of landmarks from the seven genres of music that call Tennessee home.