A brief history of Chattanooga’s name

Lookout Mountain under clouds on a summer day
Lookout Mountain — a “rock coming to a point” | NOOGAtoday

Table of Contents

Chattanooga; CHATT-UH-NOO-GA (n.): Derived from Tsatanugi, which in the Cherokee language means “rock coming to a point” or “end of the mountain.”

The name of our city comes from white settlers’ pronunciation + respelling of Tsatanugi, which sounded like chat-to-noo-gee or cha-ta-nu-ga.

“Rock coming to a point” references Lookout Mountain, a prominent piece of Chattanooga, both in the name + its history.

Brief history

  • 1663: England established the colony of Carolina, which included what we know as Tennessee. The Mississippi Valley French settlers claimed this land at the same time.
  • 1769: The “Old French Store” was established on Williams Island and was the first white settlement in the area.
  • 1796: Tennessee became the sixteenth state Native American lands made up most of the region, including Chattanooga.
  • 1816: Chief John Ross, leader of the Cherokee nation, established Ross’s Landing as a trading post on the Tennessee River.
  • 1838: Hamilton County (established in 1819) expanded south of the river to encompass Ross’s Landing during the Cherokee removal. Ross’s Landing became Chattanooga.

Camp Tsatanugi

The local Cherokee Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America purchased a ~92 acre piece of land in 1925 (in Hixson) and named it “Camp Tsatanugi.”

The area’s council operated Camp Tsatanugi as a summer camp from 1925 to 1950, with the exception of 1945. The property was sold in 1968 to the still-operating Highland Sportsman Club (1028 Camp Tsatanuga Rd.).

The Cherokee name is preserved in Camp Tsatanuga Road, which is near the old camp.

#ProTip

🗣️ If you want to say Chattanooga like a local, it’s pronounced CHAD-UH-NOO-GA, not CHATT-IN-OOGA.