Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park

Tennessee and Georgia

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park

Storms and the flow of the Tennessee River have weakened the shoreline inside the national military park. Stabilizing it is among the park’s needed repairs.

© The Pew Charitable Trusts

This case study was updated on July 31, 2017, to reflect newly released 2016 data and to correct references to calendar and fiscal year.

Pew created this case study using National Park Service deferred maintenance data issued in fiscal year 2015. The information listed here may no longer reflect the NPS site’s current condition or maintenance requirements. To find the most up-to-date information, please use the National Park Repair Needs tool.


The battle fought on this land marked a turning point for the Union Army in the Civil War because it opened the path to Atlanta and the rest of the Deep South. Union and Confederate soldiers faced off in northern Georgia and southern Tennessee in fall 1863 near the Chickamauga Creek, which some translate from the Cherokee language as “the River of Death.”1 Confederate forces seeking to retake the important railway city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, launched a fierce attack on the Union Army. But General George “the Rock of Chickamauga” Thomas rallied his soldiers and prevented the Army’s collapse before retreating to Chattanooga.2 Over 34,000 people were killed, captured or wounded in the fighting, second only to the Battle of Gettysburg.3 Congress dedicated Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park 32 years later, and it served as a model for other battlefield parks.4 Unfortunately, this sacred ground has an estimated $50 million in deferred maintenance.

Cannon Row
© Lhughesw5

Maintenance challenges

The park’s repair backlog is nearly split evenly between infrastructure—such as roads and trails—and memorials and landscaping. About 700 plaques, markers, and monuments are scattered across the 9,000-acre Chickamauga Battlefield5 and many need refurbishment. The landscape is in need of more than $2 million in repairs. This includes Signal Point, at the park’s northernmost edge. For centuries, Native Americans used this high ground to send smoke signals across the Tennessee Valley. During the Revolutionary War, Union lookouts used it to monitor Confederate troop movements below.

Another section of the park unique for its earlier history is also in need of repair to protect its archaeological integrity. Paleo-Indians can be traced back to Moccasin Bend National Archeological District as early as 10,000 B.C.

In the early 1830s,6 Cherokees were displaced from here in one of the “Trail of Tears” forced relocations of American Indians to western lands. The National Park Service (NPS) lists $7.2 million in deferred maintenance to shore up the Tennessee River waterfront near the site to make it safe and accessible to visitors.

Moccasin Bend is home to Civil War battles and Native American archeological treasures, but mounting overdue repairs are jeopardizing our ability to protect these resources and allow visitors to access the area.Michael Wurzel, executive director of Friends of Moccasin Bend


To address the deferred maintenance at Chickamauga and Chattanooga and other NPS sites in Tennessee, Georgia, and across the country, Congress should:

  • Ensure that infrastructure initiatives include provisions to address park maintenance.
  • Provide dedicated annual federal funding for national park repairs.
  • Enact innovative policy reforms to ensure that deferred maintenance does not escalate.
  • Provide more highway funding for NPS maintenance needs.
  • Create more opportunities for public-private collaboration and donations to help restore park infrastructure.

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Park Facts


Visitor spending

$66.2 million

Jobs created by visitor spending


Economic output

$81.6 million

Labor income

$26.1 million



Deferred maintenance (fiscal year 2015)

$49.5 million

Sources: National Park Service, “Annual Visitation Reports by Years: 2006 to 2016,” accessed Feb. 17, 2017,; National Park Service, “Visitor Spending Effects,” accessed Aug. 22, 2016,; National Park Service, “NPS Deferred Maintenance Reports,” accessed Aug. 19, 2016,; Pew converted NPS data from this webpage and other NPS sources into a searchable database.

© 2017 The Pew Charitable Trusts

The Pew Charitable Trusts works alongside the National Parks Conservation Association, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and other national and local groups to ensure that our national park resources are maintained and protected for future generations to enjoy.


  1. Troy Taylor, “The River of Death,” accessed Sept. 21, 2016,
  2. World History Group, “Battle of Chickamauga,” accessed Sept. 21, 2016,
  3. New Georgia Encyclopedia, “Battle of Chickamauga,” accessed Sept. 21, 2016,
  4. National Park Service, “Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park: Places,” accessed Sept. 21, 2016, chch/learn/historyculture/places.htm.
  5. Ibid.
  6. National Park Service, “Moccasin Bend National Archeological District,” accessed Sept. 21, 2016,
Restore America's National Parks
Restore America's National Parks
Fact Sheet

National Parks Require Restoration

A look at the infrastructure needs of the nation’s treasured sites

Quick View
Fact Sheet

The National Park System protects more than 400 natural, historic, cultural, and recreational sites in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories. In 2016, as the National Park Service (NPS) celebrates its 100th anniversary, many of these cherished places are showing signs of age: crumbling roads and bridges; neglected historic buildings; eroding trails; and deteriorating electrical, water, and sewage systems.

National Homeownership Month

Ellis Island
Ellis Island

We Need to Restore Our National Parks

During National Park Week, natural and historic treasures are free to enjoy—but they also need help

Quick View

Barricaded trails, broken restrooms, crumbling bridges, breached water mains, deteriorating historic buildings, and even leaking sewer pipes are all signs of the NPS’ growing maintenance backlog. Earlier this year, the agency announced that it is facing an estimated $12 billion in deferred infrastructure repairs. The accumulation is largely the result of years of congressional underfunding combined with the inherent challenges of maintaining and preserving a huge inventory of assets, many of which are 100 years old.

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.