Chattanooga Choo Choo


What song was featured in the 1941 Movie Sun Valley Serenade?



What is the Chattanooga Choo Choo and what was the inspiration behind the song?


I’ve found a place in Chattanooga to begin my search.  The place is called the Chattanooga Choo Choo.  Now a hotel, it once was the train station here.  Once owned and operated by the Southern Railway, the station was almost demolished after railway service declined in the early 1970’s.    Written by the team of Mack Gordon and Harry Warren, the inspiration for the story came while traveling on the Southern Railway’s “Birmingham Special.”


From the 1880’s most trains heading for the South, passed through the city of Chattanooga.  The Chattanooga Choo Choo was not a specific train in actuality, although many asserted that it referred to the Dixie Flyer or the Crescent Limited.


It was also necessary to change trains when traveling from NY to Chattanooga, so the reference to Chattanooga Choo Choo could not have been just one train.


The song Chattanooga Choo Choo was a big band swing song that was featured in the 1941 movie sun valley serenade.  The song is actually more well-known than the movie itself.  It was performed by the Glenn Miller orchestra and published by 20th century music corporation.  One final note about this song.  It was originally recorded in  1941—it became the first to be certified a gold disc for sales of $1,200,000. 


Since then, there has been a movie produced called the Chattanooga Choo Choo starring Barbara Eden in the 1980’s.


Chattanooga gained a reputation from the song making it the natural place for the national model railroad association.  In addition, the mascot at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is in Mockingbird named scrappy who dresses as a railroad enginemen.


Now the Chattanooga Choo Choo is a hotel called the Choo Choo Holiday Inn.  Visitors and guests can experience the train station and the place that inspired the song by walking through the Choo Choo room.


And we found a place that has the words of the song engraved in the walkway.  We are in Chattanooga on Broad Street.  Just take a look at the lyrics of this song and see if you can recall some of the words…  We'll post the lyrics on this site so you can see them for yourself.


To see the rest of the lyrics, you’ll have to visit this spot yourself.


I came to Chattanooga to uncover the story behind the Chattanooga Choo Choo song and actually discovered the place where it all originated to be preserved.  The surrounding may have changed, yet the stories from history are captured forever in the song.