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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Site of Big Rock Court - Chattanooga

Big Rock Court, site of

For years, motorists around Chattanooga have seen a Big Rock with the words Big Rock painted on it. This is the story.

During the golden age of automobile travel, Joe Light opened a motel along Cummings Highway. This highway is located at the base of Lookout Mountain near the Tennessee River. Until I-24 paralleled the old highway, it was the only way that connected the city to the west, which meant lots of travelers passed through here. The most notable geologic landmark at this site was the Big Rock. Thus, the motel was called Big Rock Court and "Big Rock Court" was painted on the rock. Even though it has been several decades, the makeshift sign is still legible.

Big Rock Court wasn't the best motel around. It gained the reputation by the locals as a den of gambling. After a shooting, a police raid finally led to the Court's demise.

This spot was still a prime location for tourists, so in 1977 the Super Water Slide opened for business. Advertised as the largest water slide in the world, the fiberglass slide zig-zagged down the hillside. The popularity faded until the summer hot-spot went out of business in 1989 and the slide relocated to Tullahoma where I find no record of it. With no use, this property became covered in kudzu.

Local conservationist John C. Wilson let the group now known as the Lookout Mountain Land Trust to purchase the land and turn it into a park. Trash was removed, overgrowth was cut down and the park named after Wilson has opened. You can read Wilson's story on preserving the park in this article. Today, you can hike a trail, have a picnic, climb the old stairs to where Joe Light's house was, or get a better view of the Big Rock Court sign that beckons motorists to this day.

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