“The bridge would certainly be an asset to the downtown area,” mayor Joe Barger said. “It would add some beauty to the overpass and would we a safer way of crossing Highway 41.”
The project was a new item for discussion at the Oct. 25 city council meeting. The council approved a motion to move forward with the project, meaning it will now look at costs and design options.
Local architect Ross Andrews, whose credentials include such projects as Ringgold City Hall, Promise Pediat-rics, and numerous other sites in the community, spoke at the meeting about possibilities for the project.
“This project could really be something beautiful for downtown,” Andrews said. “There are a lot of details to consider, from bricks, handrails, paving, and landscaping. But the bridge could compliment the Depot and all of downtown very nicely.”
According to city manager Dan Wright, the bridge could also open up more parking downtown.
“With the Depot often used as an entertainment venue, the approximate 40 to 45 parking spaces across the street could be utilized,” Wright said. “Those spaces could be occupied and people could walk across the bridge to the other side of the street where the Depot and other shops in town are located. It would increase safety as well as downtown attendance.”
Early projections see the project costing between $30,000 and $50,000.
About Ringgold Depot
Built in 1849, the Ringgold Depot is a stone structure that was common for the time in north Georgia. It is one of the few antebellum railroad depots in Georgia. By the time this depot was built, the city of Ringgold was larger than neighboring Chattanooga.
Ringgold, established as a township in 1847, was General Sherman's first town to burn on his march to the sea. The old stone De-pot, which has recently been restored, was bombarded by cannon balls. You can see where the new stone was hurriedly laid after the war to get the station back in service. Today, the Depot is the home of Ringgold Visitor's Center.
This structure touched much of the Civil War history in the area. In 1862, the depot was the last building the General passed on the way north on the Western and Atlantic Railroad. Out of wood, low on water Andrews' Raiders would abandon the steam engine two miles north of the depot, ending the "Great Locomotive Chase”.
On Nov. 26, 1863, the station would anchor the line established by General Patrick Cleburne in defense of the retreating Army of the Tennessee in the Battle of Ringgold Gap.
In the woods near the station are occasional monuments to the men who fought in the area, most notably a large marble monument dedicated to "The New York Brigade". Further north on the track is a short marker noting the final stopping place of the General.
The walks located in front have engraved bricks, listing the names of many of the men from Catoosa County that fought in the Civil War. There are also stepping stones with the names of all the officers that led the forces in the Battle of the Gap.
Today, the Depot is used for live entertainment, weddings, dances, reunions etc. It also contains the City of Ringgold Visitor's Cen-ter. The “Sensational Second Week-ends” features live gospel performances on Friday night and the Ringgold Opry on Saturday night.