Historic Highway - Boy Scout Road

Sunday, February 12, 2006 - by Harmon Jolley
Boy Scout Road in Middle Valley once led to Boy Scout Camp Tsatanugi.  Click to enlarge.
Boy Scout Road in Middle Valley once led to Boy Scout Camp Tsatanugi. Click to enlarge.
- photo by Harmon Jolley








This historic highway traverses the topology of Hamilton County. It has spanned the eras of the grist mill, farms, and subdivisions. Its name is connected with a youth organization which has counted future presidents in its ranks. Let's take a ride back in history along Boy Scout Road of Middle Valley.

Boy Scout Road begins on the east at Hixson Pike on the slopes of Big Ridge. The route proceeds west down into the bottom lands of Middle Valley, with an offset where it crosses Middle Valley Road that likely originated from the need to avoid some swamps. Continuing west, the road meanders up and over a ridge, then crosses the North Chickamauga Creek and Norfolk Southern Railroad before ending at Dayton Pike.

On the 1915 Highway Map of Hamilton County, the Foley Hixson Mill Road connected Dougherty's Ferry Road (an old name of Hixson Pike) with Dayton Pike. This road appears to follow the same route as today's Boy Scout Road. The map reflects few other roads of present-day Middle Valley, for at that time, there were several large farms on land where subdivisions would later be built. The Foley Hixson mill, also called Green's Mill, was the upper grist mill on North Chickamauga Creek; the lower mill being downstream on the appropriately-named Lower Mill Road.

The March 13, 1925 Chattanooga Times reported the news which gave the road its present name. The Chattanooga Boy Scout council had decided to buy a ninety-two acre tract near Cave Spring (which supplies water to Hixson today)on North Chickamauga Creek. The Boy Scouts had originated in Chattanooga in 1910, and had been having summer camps on Raccoon Mountain since 1918. However, that site was difficult to reach, and water was scarce in the heat of the summer.

By contrast, the Middle Valley location had ample water, lots of room for activities, and was relatively easy to access. Of the new camp, Boy Scout Council president R.T. Faucette told The Times, "You cannot say too much about its fine qualities. It is absolutely ideal, in location and natural conditions, for the construction of the finest all-year-round Boy Scout camp in the south, if not in the country, and that is what we intend to make it."

The camp was designed to make use of the surrounding terrain. Some knolls surrounded an open field, and troop buildings were planned to be erected on the high ground. In North Chickamauga Creek, a platform was placed to make the water more shallow for younger swimmers. The property had been partially cleared, but still had ample shade provided by numerous trees.

The Boy Scouts named their new camp "Tsatanugi," using the same Cherokee word meaning "rock which comes to a point" from which Chattanooga's name was derived. The name is preserved in Tsatanuga Road which is near the old camp.

The April 15, 1925 issue of The Chattanooga Scout Trail gave scouts information on the upcoming summer season at the new camp. It was said to be a "hard to beat place to spend a week." Planned athletic activities included baseball, football, horseshoes, swimming, and tennis. A week at the camp cost $4.50.

One week later, the Chattanooga Times reported that the sons of prominent Chattanoogan John A. Patten had donated several thousand dollars to erect one of the buildings at the camp. Scout president R.T. Faucette hoped that others would follow the example of Manker, John A., Jr., Lupton, and Tarbell Patten in honoring the memory of family members by donating to the building fund.

Through the summers of the next several years, Camp Tsatanugi was the idyllic home of scouting activities and fellowship. The road leading to the camp had acquired the name "Boy Scout Road" by 1933, according to "Shutting's Map of Hamilton County."

On May 4, 1944 the Chattanooga Times reported that the Cherokee Area Council was acquiring property on Signal Mountain for a new scout camp. The plan was for Camp Tsatanugi to be used mainly by younger scouts and their leaders. The Boy Scout historical Web site "Camp Images" (www.campimages.com) reports that Camp Tsatanugi remained in operation through 1950. The Highland Sportsman Club is presently located on the site.

As suburbia spread into Middle Valley, subdivisions appeared along Boy Scout Road from east to west. Fairington Forest, Hampton Woods, Middle Valley Estates, and Sterling Park are some of the neighborhoods which are located along this historic route. To the south of Boy Scout Road is Eagle Drive, which was likely named for the highest rank that a Boy Scout can achieve.

In researching this article, I was unable to locate any former scouts who had grown up camping at Camp Tsatanugi. On your honor, if you or someone you know did, please send me an e-mail at jolleyh@bellsouth.net.