Moving to a new town can be very exciting! There are new places to explore, new restaurants to try and new history to learn. Chattanooga is a very old town. Incorporated as a town in 1839, the area has been a hub of industry since the early 1776’s with the Cherokee Indian Dragging Canoe setting up residence. Since then, the city has had a very interesting and unique history. One such item of historical interest that is still part of the Chattanooga landscape is the memorial to fallen firemen, known as the Firemans Fountain. Located at the joining of 6th, Lookout and Georgia Avenue, this is one of the most identifiable areas of Chattanooga, next to the Tennessee Aquarium. I recently found a great website dedicated to unique and little known facts about Tennessee. The website Off Beat Tennessee, featured a great post about the Fireman Fountain, bringing not only a new found respect for the memorial, but also a little more love for my hometown. Nothing like knowing that alligators roamed the streets to make me a little more prouder to call Chattanooga home. Here is the post, courtesy of the great folks at Off Beat Tennessee. A little history, if you will before you move to our great Chattanooga. Many years before the Chattanooga Aquarium was built, in the early 1900′s at the Fireman’s Fountain, two alligators were the protectors of the fountain. They were there to keep the birds and dogs away from the fountain as well as to protect it from vagrants wanting to use the water in the fountain. The fountain was surrounded by a low fence with signs stating “Dangerous, Keep Out”. Periodically however the alligators would escape the pen and roam the streets of downtown Chattanooga much to the dismay of it residents. Needless to say having alligators protecting the fountain, while interesting as a concept, it did not last too long and the alligators were removed. The Fireman’s Fountain is a revered memorial for the firemen, Henry Iler and W.M. Peak who lost their lives in the line of duty in June of 1887. They answered a daytime call to a fire on Market Street and never returned.
“These two firemen were trapped in the collapse of a brick building at the rear of a firm which manufactured a device making the use of illuminating gas cheap. The gas stored in the building exploded and three tons of bricks fell over the firemen. Peak was pulled out by Chief Whiteside and other firemen, but died three hours later. Iler died instantly. Chief Whiteside burned both hands badly as he frantically threw aside the hot bricks in a desperate effort to reach his trapped men.