Ruby Falls officials have unveiled a new, dynamic cascading waterfall constructed at the entrance of the world famous attraction by Scenic Highway.
Hailed as a major step to “entering a new era,” the new entrance structure is part of $800,000 in visual improvements to the Lookout Mountain enterprise.
Jack Steiner Sr., president and owner of Ruby Falls, said, ” As we entered into the early part of this millennium, we realized the time was right to update and enhance the view people ascend Lookout Mountain via Scenic Highway. Our new entrance will blend well with the mountain’s natural surroundings and will be most pleasing to the eye.
“The purpose of the entrance is to greet the hundreds of thousands of visitors who visit Lookout Mountain each year – as well as to create a pleasing and attractive approach for the residents of our community.”
In preparation for the construction of the waterfall area, overhead utility lines were removed and relocated underground. New landscaping is planned with trees, shrubbery and flowers that will complement the new structure.
The new waterfall entrance was designed by Chattanooga-based Hefferlin-Kronenberg Architects. In charge of the construction was Raines Brothers, Inc.
The waterfall is constructed out of natural mountain stone and Valder Stone from Wisconsin. Valders stone, which is a premium dolomite limestone, is used in the construction of buildings around the world, including some of the most striking and visible buildings in some of the worlds foremost cities, officials said.
The letters are made of aluminum and finished in bronze. Native vegetation surrounds the structure.
Mr. Steiner said, “The new entrance structure is dedicated to the people, past owners and staff of Ruby Falls who have made the renowned attraction what it is today.” A commemorative plaque recognizing these people will be erected near the site.
“We believe that our new entrance will become a symbol that is associated with the beauty and majesty of Lookout Mountain. We can foresee images and replicas being applied to various items, which will evoke memories of visits to Lookout Mountain and to Chattanooga for people throughout the coming years,” Mr. Steiner said.
The story of Ruby Falls began with the original Lookout Mountain Cave. Known to visitors for centuries, the cave was used as a campsite for American Indians, a hideout for outlaws, and as a Civil War hospital.
This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the discovery of the spectacular underground waterfall know as Ruby Falls. In 1923, Leo Lambert, a local cave enthusiast, formed a corporation for the purpose of opening Lookout Mountain Cave to the public. In 1928, a site for an elevator shaft was found at the 260-foot level from which Lambert began exploration. After 17 hours, he emerged and described many beautiful rock formations. The 145-foot waterfall was named in the honor of his wife, Ruby.
A few years ago, Mr. Steiner and Rock City’s Bill Chapin joined forces in a beautification project in St. Elmo that eliminated several billboards leading to attractions on Lookout Mountain. The billboards were replaced with highway directional signs. Mr. Steiner also donated the Guild Trail and Hardy Trail to the Lookout Mountain Land Trust. Both of the trails are now used as a greenway.
Since 1929, millions of visitors have enjoyed the natural beauty of Ruby Falls.