Tunnel Hill Heritage Center | Dalton, Georgia
Tunnell Hill GA 30755
At the Tunnel Hill Heritage Center, you can explore the early heritage of Tunnel Hill, a small community just 10 miles north of Dalton in northwest Georgia. Native Americans, early settlers, the railroad, and Civil War soldiers all left their mark on the land and with its people. The heritage center consists of a museum, the restored Tunnel Hill railroad tunnel, and the 1848 Clisby Austin home.
Displays inside the Heritage Center Museum include a timeline of the 1850 Western and Atlantic Railroad Tunnel restoration, one of the South's oldest railroad tunnels. There are Civil War artifacts and history about the Clisby Austin family who settled the area. You will see how the Civil War left its mark in Tunnel Hill following the Battle of Chickamauga and the planning of the Atlanta Campain by Gen. William T. Sherman, and you will learn about the glory days of the chenille bedspread industry and the Old Dixie Highway that came through Tunnel Hill in the mid-1900’s, giving it the nickname of "Peacock Alley."
You can tour the restored Tunnel Hill Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel. Construction on the tunnel began in 1848 and the town of Tunnel Hill sprang up as people moved to the area to supply the railroad workers. The tunnel spans 1,477 feet and was dug through the base of Chetoogeta Mountain. On May 9, 1850, the first Western and Atlantic train passed through the mountain tunnel and the new town on its way to Atlanta. The tunnel was part of historical events that occurred during the Civil War. The railroad stop use of the tunnel in 1928. After 70 years of neglect it was restored and opened to the public in 2000. Today, you can walk through the tunnel on the original tracks of this important train rail.
You can tour around the Clisby Austin House, an 1848 home belonging to the Clisby Austin family and a prime example of an antebellum home in this area. The house served as a hospital during the Battle of Chickamauga. Confederate Gen. John Bell recuperated here after his leg was amputated - it is buried near the house. The house also served as headquarters for Gen. Sherman during the Battle of Dalton.
A authentic reinactment of the Civil War battle that surrounded Tunnel Hill and the property is staged every year, the weekend after Labor Day.