Classic roadside attraction: "The Confederama"


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James N.

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#5
I was extremely happy to "rediscover" this in May when I visited Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain for the first time since 1991 when I very briefly passed through. Contrary to what the author of the accompanying linked account was incorrectly told, the Confederama was built in the 1950's and peopled by 30mm figures and cannon made by the company SAE - Swedish African Engineers in South Africa! In this European-settled country, the manufacturer followed European standards, using a typically European toy soldier size and lead as the material. I still own a few of these that were only available in exclusive American toy retailers in the 1950's and 1960's; I even bought some at one of my several memorable visits to the Confederama itself.

Though the diorama and its museum of Civil War artifacts is now owned by Rock City and located just outside Point Park atop Lookout Mountain, it was originally in Chattanooga in two different locations, one near the station for the Incline Railway up Lookout. It was originally built by an entrepeneur who ran it for many years. The Confederama had at least one imitator in Murfreesboro, Tenn.: another model-maker around the time of the Centennial in the 1960's created his own, also using the 30mm SAE figures, depicting the Battle of Stones River. Since that was a lesser-known battle in a ( then ) remote little town, it folded after only a few years; I saw no trace of it on my vacation.

Confederama 004.jpg
Confederama 003.jpg


Folder and postcards from my visit in 1961.

Confederama.jpg

Confederama 001.jpg

Confederama 002.jpg
 
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#6
I was extremely happy to "rediscover" this in May when I visited Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain for the first time since 1991 when I very briefly passed through. Contrary to what the author of the accompanying linked account was incorrectly told, the Confederama was built in the 1950's and peopled by 30mm figures and cannon made by the company SAE - Swedish African Engineers in South Africa! In this European-settled country, the manufacturer followed European standards, using a typically European toy soldier size and lead as the material. I still own a few of these that were only available in exclusive American toy retailers in the 1950's and 1960's; I even bought some at one of my several memorable visits to the Confederama itself.

Though the diorama and its museum of Civil War artifacts is now owned by Rock City and located just outside Point Park atop Lookout Mountain, it was originally in Chattanooga in two different locations, one near the station for the Incline Railway up Lookout. It was originally built by an entrepeneur who ran it for many years. The Confederama had at least one imitator in Murfreesboro, Tenn.: another model-maker around the time of the Centennial in the 1960's created his own, also using the 30mm SAE figures, depicting the Battle of Stones River. Since that was a lesser-known battle in a ( then ) remote little town, it folded after only a few years; I saw no trace of it on my vacation.

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Folder and postcards from my visit in 1961.

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That brochure is what peeked my interest to visit when I was a child.
On a trip to the Smokies during the early 70's, I think my Dad had enough of me jabbering from the back seat that he detoured to the Confederama...just to shut me up.
 
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#7
I never go to see it. I visited for a summer in Northern Alabama as a kid. I did get to see Chickamauga, Chatanooga and Rock City. I did get the Cofederama Brochure, but never got to see it, (bummer).
 

James N.

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I never go to see it. I visited for a summer in Northern Alabama as a kid. I did get to see Chickamauga, Chatanooga and Rock City. I did get the Cofederama Brochure, but never got to see it, (bummer).
Since you apparantly didn't click on the link in the first post, the point of all this is you still CAN! Only now it's been moved to a much better spot, right outside Point Park, and renamed The Battlles of Chattanooga or some such - but it's still the good ol' Confederama! Now all you have to do is find an excuse to go back to Chattanooga.
 
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#10
Not Confederate but similarly themed roadside restaurant called Mammy's Cupboard just outside Natchez on U.S. 61. Passed by this place many, many times to and from college but never stopped. I believe it was built in the 40's and the picture looks as though it has been spruced up quite a bit.

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I lived in Natchez awhile. It's a very good lunch spot.
 
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#11
When I was a kid, 6-12 years old (1965-71), my family would visit Chattanooga every summer. One of the reasons for this pilgrimage is that I was obsessed with all things Civil War and Abraham Lincoln. I remember my parents taking me to the Confederama and thinking how cool it was! All those individually painted toy soldiers and train layout; wow! I had to have gotten some soldiers there, maybe even my Civil War era model train.

I AM 55 now and I'd love to see it again! I can then come home and play with my HO scale Civil War 'The General' and some blue & gray soldiers. It would be like being a kid again. Sorry Southerners, but I made sure the North always won. I think I'm the reincarnation of Lincoln who was the reincarnation of Benjamin Franklin who went public with his belief in the transmigration-of-the-soul.
 
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#12
I hate to admit it but I don't remember if I saw that or not but I definitely saw seven states a number of times. In addition to CW things, I was also obsessed with fireworks stands (they had the real thing back then) and badgered my folks into stopping at the good ones so, depending on how the badgering went on any particular visit, well .... maybe.

Cool photos.
 

Lnwlf

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#14
That is really cool! I love dioramas and that in itself would be worth the price of admission! I wonder, did the model railroad exhibit move with it to the new home? Love trains too!
 


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