I decided it might be fun to drive my 1932 Plymouth coupe to Chattanooga and back in one day. It's about 125 miles to Chattanooga State Community College, the advertised venue where the cars would arrive. I researched a possible route on which I wouldn't have to get on the interstate. It turns out that there are several no-interstate options. I finally decided to take Highway 431 south to Highway 72, then proceed east as far as New Hope/South Pittsburgh, TN. Just before I might normally get on Interstate 24, I would opt for Tennessee highway 156 leading to Tennessee highway 134. This connects with Georgia route 299 connecting with US highway 11 into Chattanooga. The longest leg, on US highway 72, is about 70 miles. This is a divided 4-lane road, which makes it easy for other motorists to go past my car, which is only capable of 55-60 miles per hour.
|The "Back Roads" Route|
|Winston, ready for the trip|
I started watching the weather about ten days in advance of our trip. It didn't look good. I don't like to drive the Plymouth in the rain unnecessarily because it only has one very ineffective windshield wiper. Unless someone has driven a car with vacuum-operated wipers (typically pre-1955) they can't appreciate how bad they were. Whenever you give the car more gas, i.e., try to accelerate, the windshield wipers slow down or stop! Try going up a hill. You have no wipers. Downhil, they go like crazy -- vwap, vwap, vwap, vwap! You get the picture -- I didn't want to drive the old car if rain was likely.
The day before departure, the weatherman was predicting 60% likelihood of rain. I decided to abandon the idea of driving "Winston" and to drive my truck instead. At about the same time, I heard from Monty that he and Patrick would be unable to go. So now, it would be Clint and me in my truck, but I still wanted to take the back roads to scout out the route for future adventures.
Clint and I met on highway 72 and got underway at around 7:00 AM. We stopped in Scottsboro, AL, and had breakfast at the Huddle House. Then we proceeded on our preplanned route. As we reached the haven of Whiteside, Tennessee, on highway 134, Clint was describing his ancestors who had lived in this community and mentioned that many are buried in the Mt. Aetna cemetery (Clint pronounces it "Mount Etny" in the way he has heard it from his kinfolks.). He pointed out the road that goes to the top of Mt. Aetna, and we did what any red-blooded boys would do -- we headed up the mountain.
|One of the better-preserved tombstones|
at the Aetna Cemetery, Lizzie Graham,
who died in 1890
In the late 19th century, this mountain was an active coal mining site. There are layers of coal below the top of the mountain. According to the Nooga.com blogsite, "In 1839, land grants from the state of Tennessee passed ownership of parts of Raccoon Mountain to James A. Whiteside and F.W. Lea. Whiteside joined with Robert Craven
|A 19th-Century etching of|
Aetna Mountain mining
|Coker Tire Company Headquarters|
|A sample of the thousands of cars at CSCC|