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The public enjoys a first look at the new park
Enterprise South Nature Park is Hamilton County’s newest and most prized public properties. Set to open in October 2010, the 2800 plus wooded acres will offer visitors a rare opportunity to explore land that has been heavily protected and largely left to flourish in its natural state for over 80 years!
This immense tract of land is part of what used to be the Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant; known locally as VAAP. Consisting of over 7,000 acres located in the heart of the county – heavily populated on all sides – the area has always been closed to the public and heavily guarded. Because of this, the area holds a certain mystique for residents. Its opening to the public this fall is anxiously anticipated.
VAAP’s history stretches to World War II when the federal government acquired 7,000 acres for TNT production. Employment peaked at about 3,500 workers and production ebbed and waned over the years with the ammunition demands for the Korean and Vietnam wars. Production ceased at the facility in 1977.
In 1978, Mayor Claude Ramsey began negotiations to acquire portions of the site for an industrial park, but it wasn’t until 2000 that the city and Hamilton County were able to buy the heart of the acreage for use as an industrial park. It was renamed Enterprise South in 2002 and chosen as home of the new Volkswagen America Production Facility in 2008. Construction is now underway on the 940 acre plant and several surrounding equipment suppliers.
Visitors explore one of the many subterranean storage
bunkers remaining from the former ammunition plant
The 2,800 plus acres was conveyed to the City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County in 2004 to be used as a nature park due to its hilly terrain and proximity to surrounding residential areas. There are numerous remnants of the VAAP operation still evident along the trails, including almost 100 subterranean storage bunkers. Considerations for their possible use is still underway. Three of these will be restored as historical exhibits.
The Park will offer miles of walking paths, bicycle/pedestrian paths, off-road biking and horse trails. There are ample areas for picnics and a secluded 2-acre lake that attracts deer, turkeys, and other park animals which will allow visitors to view the animals in nature.
An equestrian trail building workshop and tour of the facility will be offered at the American Trails National Symposium in November 2010. See more about Chattanooga and Tennessee trails on the 2010 American Trails National Symposium website