Completed in 1850, the tunnel is the oldest railroad tunnel in the Southeast. Throughout the war the tunnel was a major link in the supply line of the Confederate armies until 1863. In April 1862 the tunnel played a role in the "Great Locomotive Chase," when Union soldiers attempted to cut the important rail line by stealing the train locomotive, the General, and heading north toward Chattanooga. The engine's fuel supply dwindled, and the raid failed. In 1864 Sherman occupied Tunnel Hill and set up his headquarters in the nearby Clisby Austin House.
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