Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park


Hi everyone my name is Emily Avery and I am one of the Park Rangers here at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. Currently I am standing on top of Lookout Mountain right inside Point Park and today we are going to be talking about geography. Now geography sounds like a fancy word; what it means is the study of the shape of the earth and how the people interact with that shape. What we're going to be talking about specifically is this city behind me and the area around it, and we're going to basically practice being geographers. One way that geographers get a lot of their information is by reading maps, so we're also going to have a few maps that we're going to look at and practice reading and getting information from them. So let's start by thinking about if you were to come to Chattanooga for the first time. Imagine maybe some of you have moved here from another state or city. You might have some questions or you may have had some questions when you moved here, like maybe are you going to get snow? Is it going to be hot in the summer or cold in the winter? What is my new home going to look like? Maybe you had questions about your new school and what it was going to be like.

When we had settlers coming to Chattanooga way back in the 1800's, which is over 200 years ago, they also had questions that weren't all that different. They were wondering what the land was like around here, were there going to be mountains as we see that there are. What about the river, how are they going to grow their food? What sort of animals live around here? And so as these people came to Chattanooga there actually were already American Indians that had lived here for a really long time. However these new settlers and the American Indians didn't get along very well. They had very different cultures, and so actually the American Indians ended up living somewhere else. So what we're going to do now is actually look at a map and see if we can start practicing some of that geography, practice getting information about map reading.

So let's take a look at this first map here is a map of the United States in 1848. Now if we look at this map, we see the title of the map says it's a political map. A political map shows countries, states and cities. You can see that part of the United States isn't even here yet. Some of you might know states like California, or Washington, or Oregon. Those are not on the map because those actually hadn't been explored yet. So there were still a lot of unanswered questions again, like what was the land like? What animals live there? What types of plants or trees could grow there? Was it a desert? Were there rivers? Lots of questions that these settlers were still going to try and answer. Now there are probably quite a few states that you do recognize, and they're outlined here. And right in the middle you should see the state of Tennessee. That means by 1848 Tennessee was officially part of the United States. So if you have your paper in front of you with your map of the United States, why don't you go ahead and color in the state of Tennessee so it's nice and easy to find. Now the state of Tennessee was very, very important during the Civil War. The Civil War started in 1861 and it ended in 1865. The state of Tennessee, and specifically Chattanooga, had a lot of interesting resources, a lot of interesting geography, that made it really unique.

Behind me you can see that there's a river, that's the Tennessee River. There were also a lot of railroads that came into Chattanooga. Now why would those be important? Let's think about back in the 1800's, that's well over 150 years ago, that the Civil War was taking place, we didn't have things like cars. We didn't have things like airplanes. So if you were one of the armies trying to move a lot of soldiers, or even if you were just someone that was trying to travel through the state of Tennessee, or through parts of the states around Tennessee, you would probably, if you weren't walking or marching, you would go by boat or by train. So because the city of Chattanooga could be accessed by boats and by train, it was a really easy place to get to and it was really easy place to go from to get a lot of other places. So that was pretty cool, that was pretty special.

Now we're going to look at another map now and it's going to be different than the one we just saw. So let's check that out. Looking at this map you'll see a lot of dotted and solid lines. This map is showing where railroads were and where the rivers flowed during the Civil War. Now this map has a lot of words and labels on it, so let's take it step by step, because we're going to try and find Chattanooga. First let's see if we can just find Tennessee. Now once we do that we can start looking for the city of Chattanooga. Chattanooga is near the border that Tennessee shares with Georgia and it's also pretty close to North Carolina. So if we look in that direction, we can find Chattanooga right there. Again if you have your U.S. map in front of you, go ahead and put a dot or a star- kind of estimate where you think Chattanooga would be in that state of Tennessee that you colored in.

Okay so now let's talk about, there's something that has been missing on the first two maps that we looked at that's pretty important. Some of you might already know what that is, and those are our cardinal directions. Those are North, South, East and West. Maps would often have either arrows that showed you which direction North was, or there could be a compass rose that showed all four of those. And they were important because believe it or not North never changes. So for example from where I'm standing right here on Lookout Mountain, North is that way. Now no matter which direction I face, North will always be over there. Now that's important on a map because that's going to help make sure that everybody's reading the map the same way, and nobody's holding it upside down, nobody's holding it sideways, everybody knows which way is North. And from that they can also figure out which way is South, East and West. We're going to talk about that in just a second with our final map.

So this last map is going to be a map specifically of Chattanooga. So let's go ahead and look at that map. This map is from 1867. Now you can see Chattanooga is right in the middle. The map has an arrow over on the side, and you'll see that up at the top, it points to an "N" and then down at the bottom it has an "S." So we know that those stand for North and South. Well what about East and West? There's a saying we can use to help us remember which one goes where as we make our way around that arrow. The saying is kind of funny it's "Never eat soggy waffles." Each word begins with the letters in order that we need them, but we have to make sure we go around the compass like the hands go around a clock. So if we start at the top of the arrow at North we'll move down to that next line and that will be East so that's the "E" for eat, and then we'll move down to the South that's the "S" for soggy. And then as we come back up on the other side, the final line is going to be West, that "W" for waffles.

Now this map also gives us different information from the two we've already looked at because it shows Chattanooga, the Tennessee River, and then different peaks and ridges around the area. For example, right now we're standing at the top of Lookout Mountain, you guys saw that view that I had. And so we're much higher than the land around us. Notice on the map you'll see some places where there's some shading, and actually if you look all the way at the bottom of the map towards the South, you'll see Lookout Mountain. And you'll see the shading which means that where we're standing is higher than what's around us. So if you have that paper in front of you, go ahead and flip it over and in a second you're going to pause the video and I want you guys to try and figure out with that arrow over on the side, label North, South, East and West, and I also want you to see if you can match those letters on the map to the different labels in the box on the corner. So go ahead pause this video and give that a go and we'll come back in just a second.

Welcome back. So we have looked at a lot of different maps, different types of maps that had given us lots of information about not just Chattanooga, but we also looked at one of Tennessee, we also looked at one of the entire country. And again, we were practicing being geographers. We read those maps, we learned information about the land around the area. Now the city of Chattanooga is very unique because again, you can get to it a lot of different ways. Back in the 1800's, we talked about boats and trains. Nowadays you'll probably see behind me, or if you can't see I'm going to show a map in a second, about highways. So nowadays we do have cars. I'm going to show you a map really quick of the different highways in the country and it's going to be a map from the 1960's, so much more recent than the ones I've shown you thus far.

Now if we zoom in on Chattanooga, you will notice there's quite a few lines that represent those highways that are coming through Chattanooga. There's actually four of them. One highway even starts here so that's pretty cool. Chattanooga is very unique, it's very special because of its geography. So I hope you guys had a lot of fun learning about Chattanooga, learning about geography, practicing being a geographer with me, and I hope to see you guys in the park sometime soon. Bye for now.


Join a park ranger in this school based curriculum program learning about the study of geography.


12 minutes, 11 seconds



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