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See Rock City
by Megan Edwards

[Map] [How To Get There]


See Rock City
Rock City celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2007

Swing-A-Long Bridge
Swing-A-Long Bridge

Lover's Leap
Lover's Leap

LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN, GEORGIA —

SEE ROCK CITY. Big. Bold. Easy to read, even for a four-year-old. Ever since I deciphered the command while driving by old barns on family road trips, I've been determined to obey. "It's just a tourist trap," my dad would say, but that never convinced me I shouldn't make a pilgrimage someday.

Someday was a long time in coming. As an adult, I've driven near Chattanooga, Tennessee any number of times, but I never seemed to have the time to follow the arrows pointing the way up Lookout Mountain. Last week, opportunity beckoned. I was headed to the Smokies to drive the Newfound Gap road the next day, and sunset wasn't for another few hours. This was my chance! After all these years, I was finally going to SEE ROCK CITY.

There is no shortage of signs with arrows directing tourists to the "attractions" on Lookout Mountain. In addition to Rock City, there's an incline railroad and a place called Ruby Falls. I'd seen billboards for Ruby Falls as I drove up from Birmingham, but they hadn't revealed its proximity to Rock City. I wondered if the falls were ruby colored, but not enough to consider a visit. I was, after all, on ancient orders to SEE ROCK CITY, and I wasn't going to let some other "attraction" seduce me.

The road up Lookout Mountain is narrow and winding, and I took it slowly. Traffic was heavy, I hadn't looked closely at a map, and I had no idea how much altitude I'd have to gain before reaching Rock City. Thank goodness for all the signs, I thought. Very thoughtful.

I rounded a bend. On the right side of the road, a young man in shorts and T-shirt was pointing authoritatively to the left with both arms. Is this it? I wondered, and I almost pulled into the parking area he was indicating. But then I saw it. Right behind him in big gold letters. RUBY FALLS. Whoa! I had come within ten feet of being ensnared by the wrong attraction! No doubt remained that I was in serious tourist trap territory, and if I were going to obey the mandate to SEE ROCK CITY, I'd better be on my guard.

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