The Town of Signal Mountain

About Signal Mountain

The History of Signal Mountain

Located on Walden’s Ridge, at the southern end of the Cumberland Plateau, the Town of Signal Mountain takes its name from a promontory of land called Signal Point. Overlooking the Tennessee River Valley and the City of Chattanooga, Signal Point was used by Native Americans, including Creeks and Cherokee, to signal important messages and by Union troops during the War Between the States as a relay station and to observe traffic on the Tennessee River.

Seasonal visitors had always been drawn to the mountain in the summer to enjoy its cool summer breezes. But in the late 19th century with the advent of cholera and yellow fever epidemics, affluent families in the valley fled to the mountains surrounding Chattanooga to escape. One seasonal visitor, C. E. James, saw an opportunity. He bought the land near and around Signal Point and began selling parcels for the building of summer homes. By 1913, Mr. James had built the Signal Mountain Inn—a grand hotel—and a trolley for transportation between the valley and the top of the mountain. In 1918, Mr. James completed his resort community with a golf course.

For generations pioneer settlers in the valley had brought their livestock to graze unfettered on Walden’s Ridge each summer. Farm animals had already found neighborhood lawns to their liking, but the grounds of the new golf course were irresistible. Soon cows and pigs were nibbling in fairways and lazing on soft golf greens. Residents found the animals both difficult to manage and reluctant to relocate.

As a result, the community requested a charter from the state legislature. On April 4, 1919, the charter was granted, and the first order of business for the newly elected government was to outlaw animals in the Town and hire a man with a horse to corral the animals and enforce the law.

By 1925, two hundred homes had been built and the year-round Town of Signal Mountain flourished. The location of Mr. James’ development is now known as the Old Town District. The Inn was purchased by the Alexian Brothers in 1936 and has become the Alexian Village, a nationally recognized retirement community. The promontory, which gave the Town its name, is now Signal Point National Park and is enjoyed for its panoramic view and recognized as the smallest park in the National Park System.

Today the Town is a progressive, full-service community with almost 3,000 homes and a population of 8,363, 68% of whom are college educated. Residential in nature, the Town of Signal Mountain is approximately ten miles from downtown Chattanooga with its many major employers and attractions such as the Chattanooga Choo Choo, the Hunter Museum of Art and the Tennessee Riverfront and Aquarium.

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Points of Interest

Rainbow Lake, once a part of the 1913 Signal Mountain Inn, is a popular destination for hikers. It can be accessed on Ohio Avenue near the Alexian Village. The southernmost trailhead of the Cumberland Trail is located at Signal Point Park.

There are eighteen miles of trails within the Town that loop from Shackleford Ridge Park through Prentice Cooper State Forest and connect to other Town parks. In addition, many miles of trails for hiking, trail running and mountain biking are also situated just north of the Town in Prentice Cooper State Forest.

The Signal Mountain Historic District dates from the early twentieth century to before WWII. Elegant period homes stand side-by-side summer cottages on tree-lined streets. A portion of the old trolley tracks that ferried summer residents up and down the mountain can still be seen on James Boulevard where an original sheltered trolley stop has been preserved.

The oldest commercial retail building in the Town is located at 712 Signal Mountain Boulevard. It was built in 1912 as a commissary for the mountain. It was famous in its day for a tribe of yellow cats with six toes on their front feet. One tenant, known as “George, my barber” ran his shop in the west end of the building until the 1960’s. He began his career cutting hair at the old Inn.

The Signal Mountain Land Company office located at 302 James Boulevard was built in 1912 and in 1915 became the Town’s first Post Office. It operated until the 1950’s when it became the first site of the Signal Mountain Library. Signal Mountain Grammar School at 806 Kentucky Avenue, built of local mountain stone, was dedicated in 1926. It served as the town as a school until 1999 when it was transformed into the Mountain Arts Community Center.

Located just outside the Town limits is the Mountain Opry described by the New York Times as “...the place to be on Friday nights...” for those who enjoy “knee-slapping bluegrass and old time mountain music”. The Toll House (now a museum) is located just up the road from the Opry. Tolls were once collected there from mountain farmers using the road to cross the mountain to deliver stock and crops to market in Chattanooga.

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Banks, shopping, family restaurants, an athletic club, a full service country club and golf course, health care services, service stations and the Alexian Village retirement community (located in and around the old Signal Mountain Inn) are only some of the amenities located in the town.

For more information contact the Mountain Business Association at

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Signal Mountain has two elementary schools and a brand new state-of-the-art Middle/High School operated by the Hamilton County Department of Education. In addition, there is a private school and a home school organization.

Mountain Education Fund.

Thrasher Elementary School
1301 James Blvd
Signal Mountain, TN 37377
(423) 886-0882

Nolan Elementary School
4425 Shackleford Ridge Rd.
Signal Mountain, TN 37377
(423) 886-0898

Signal Mountain Middle High School
2650 Sam Powell Drive
Signal Mountain, TN 37377

Signal Mountain Christian School
202 Fairmount Pike
Signal Mountain, TN 37377

Signal Mountain Home Schooler
Please Visit Website
(423) 886-5170

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The Signal Mountain area is home to churches of various denominations including the historic non-denominational Union Chapel, known as “The Little Brown Church”, which is located in nearby Walden and open in the summer for services.

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Community Organizations

Clubs Contact Information
Mountain Gardeners Betty Fassnacht, (423) 886-3183
Garden Club of Signal Mountain Sue Knight, (423) 886-4179
Lion’s Club Mel Tryon, (423) 886-3123
Masonic Lodge #758
Mountain Stewards Eva Conwell and Corinne Giagnario,
Signal Mountain Community Guild
SM Community Guild Literature Department Lynn Anderson,
Signal Mountain Newcomers Lara Buchhet,


There are three Boy Scout Troops on the mountain offering quality year-round scouting programs for boys 11-18 years of age. The troops meet weekly and conduct monthly camping trips, plus at least one extended camping trip in the summer. A joint Signal Mountain Area Boy Scout Court of Honor is conducted four times a year to recognize those scouts who have earned advancements. For more information contact: Troop 176, Bob Wagner, (423) 886-2420; Troop 60, John Glass, (423) 886-5656; or Troop 116, Bill Leonard, (423) 886-2117.

The Signal Mountain Service Unit (O-TEN-TALA) of the Moccasin Bend Girl Scout Council is open to girls from 5-17 years of age. Adults are welcome in the program as well. Registration is open all year. Contact the Moccasin Bend Girl Scout Council at (423) 877-2688.

Signal Mountain Social Services

Signal Mountain Social Services provides emergency help for families on Signal Mountain in need, maintains a food pantry, offers life-skills counseling and educational assistance, operates the Clothes House for used clothing and household goods, supports preschool scholarships, arranges transportation to medical appointments, and furnishes Christmas baskets. These operations are supported by donations from mountain churches, community groups and volunteers. The office is located at 633 Mississippi Ave., open Monday through Friday 10am-12p.m.., (423) 886-5982.

Community Events

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Town Calendar

February 2018
Date Event Time Location
22 BZA 6:00 PM if called
23 Town Council Work Session >Agenda 12:30 PM  
27 DRC 6:00 PM if called
27 MACC 7:00 PM