Monday, March 13, 2023

Exploring my 'Tunnel of Love' on a Georgia adventure

The light is thataway. 

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Nearly drained of all life after a long bike ride at Chickamauga battlefield and a short hike at the excellent Rocky Face Ridge Park, I ventured to Tunnel Hill, Ga., to explore the old railroad tunnel made famous by Andrews Raiders on April 12, 1862, and by Fess Parker in the epic 1956 movie, “The Great Locomotive Chase.”

My main aim, of course, was to answer the age-old question: "Is there light at the end of the tunnel?"

The epic tunnel was completed in 1850.
For 10 bucks, you can take a self-guided of the Western & Atlantic railroad tunnel, an engineering marvel completed in 1850. As one walks through the darkened, nearly 500-yard tunnel, beams of light shine on interpretive markers while trickles of water drip from the walls and ceiling.

It’s a little creepy, and naturally once I found out that PARANORMAL ACTIVITY is known to occur in the tunnel, my mind started to play tricks on me. The fact that I was alone and the very last, paying customer of the day probably had something to do with it.

After discovering actual light at the end of the tunnel, I retraced my steps. Along the way, I shot several shadow images in the photographer’s delight. I love this historical treasure!

Back in the light of day, I spotted the cheery museum docent in a golf cart heading my way. She was about to lock the gates and close the tunnel for the day. Overly excited, I peppered her with inane questions about PARANORMAL ACTIVITY in the tunnel and stared at her cool/distracting sunglasses with the heart-shaped lenses. The docent confirmed the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, but I suspect she was humoring me.

In the mid-1970s, long before the restoration of the tunnel, a reader on my Civil War Facebook page hunted dove in the fields next to the tracks at the tunnel. On several occasions, he explored the old tunnel, then blocked with mud several feet deep at both entrances.

"But the worst part was it was pitch black and every critter known to man lived in there," he wrote. "But we went anyway. It was a test of youthful bravado."

Too bad I wasn't around for those visits.

While pulling out of the parking lot, bound for home and the loving arms of Mrs. B in Nashville, I spotted the docent again.

“Hey, what’s the deal with General Hood’s amputated leg?” I shouted like a professional reporter. “Is it buried out here?”

I probably shouldn’t be released into the “Civil War wild.”

Let there be light! Andrews Raiders passed through this tunnel in 1862.
I explored the length of the tunnel and examined its brickwork.

Visitors to the tunnel trigger beams of light, which allow for interesting photography.

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