Title: Man sitting on Point Lookout, J. H. Gaston, Lookout Mountain Photography Gallery

Catalog Number: 2017.004.0001

Date (Years): 1891-1900


A man wearing a dark suit and wide-brimmed hat sits at the edge of Point Lookout, with his legs dangling off the edge. Below the outcropping is Point Hotel. There are two flags waving in the wind off the top of hotel’s roof, one says “Lookout,” the other is an American flag. In the far distance is the Tennessee River. This is a reversed image on tin. Produced by J. H. Gaston, Lookout Mountain Photography Gallery. “Views of all principal points at reasonable rates.” The image dates from 1899-1901.

About the (Lookout) Point Hotel (1888)

Built in 1888, the Point Hotel was quite strikingly modern in appearance, with four levels of wraparound balconies that rounded at the corners and gave visitors an awe-inspiring panoramic view of the river valley and Chattanooga. The 58-room hotel sat strategically just below Point Lookout and the property of Mrs. Col. James A. Whiteside, who would later become an investor in the nearby Lookout Inn. Mrs. Whiteside was protective of her husband’s estate, and competitive feuding became so ruthless between the two hotels that she had the stairs leading to the point removed to keep Point Hotel patrons from easily reaching the summit of Lookout Mountain and the popular point.

Visitors would reach the Point Hotel by the 4,360-foot-long steam-powered Incline No. 1 to its west façade and upper station. The narrow gauge railway from the east could also take patrons on excursions to Sunset Rock and the popular Natural Bridge. Room rates ranged from $2.50 to $4 a night, and day visitors could ride the Incline, have a nice dinner, then return to St. Elmo for an inclusive price of $3. Hotel amenities included a billiard room, barbershop, running water in each guest room and a bathhouse.

In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt visited the hotel.

The dismantling of Incline No. 1 at the turn of the last century in favor of the newer Incline No. 2 and fierce competition would eventually fold the Point Hotel-although, briefly, new investors considered converting the former hotel into a music hall. The Point Hotel would sit empty and abandoned before being demolished sometime between 1910 and 1920. A small plaque commemorates the Point Hotel near the bottom of the steel stairs from Point Park, and artifacts like stone stairs and bits of the foundation are still visible to hikers.

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