A quick history of The W Road
The W Road, connecting Chattanooga and the town of Walden, is named for the three sharp switch-back curves surmounting the sandstone bluff that form the shape of the letter “W”.
The W originated as a Union supply Line between Nashville and Chattanooga during the Civil War. The road gained use later as the wealthiest in Chattanooga escaped a yellow fever outbreak by venturing up Walden’s Ridge in 1873 to the wilderness health resorts on Signal Mountain.
The story of the modern W begins around 1890, when Tom Conner and his brothers sold the turnpike privilege owned by their family for 300 dollars. At that time, the road became free and open to the public.
Expansion construction began in the summer of 1892 by county workhouse gangs. The project proved to be much more difficult than originally planned, as the number of workers ballooned from 17 men to 83. Spectators came by the hundreds to watch crew blast away rocks on the road. The project was completed for about $11,000 dollars.
The W was rebuilt and widened in 1927 and 1940, from 15 feet to 24 feet in some places. Since then most of the road remains the same.