Kings Point Cemetery – Abandoned, Neglected, but not Forgotten
The sign on a rusty locked barricade warns of penalties for willful destruction or removal of U.S. Government property but “No Tresspassing” signs are not to be found. This service road does not appear on roadway maps. Conversely, the documented road (Pine Street) located 1/4 mile away from this location still exists on maps but no longer exists in reality.
Why has Pine Street, the main road leading into Kings Point Cemetery, vanished from reality? And, why has Kings Point Cemetery fallen into such a state of abandonment?
Kings Point Cemetery in Hamilton County, Tennessee dates back to 1830
A once prestigious cemetery containing notable figures in Chattanooga’s history, Kings Point Cemetery dates back to the mid 1800’s with some of the earliest burials from the Silvey family. As such; some local historians refer to the burial ground as Silvey Cemetery. It is on land now owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
TVA first became prominent in this immediate area in the 1930s when Chickamauga Dam was built on the Tennessee River 6 miles upriver of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Kings Point’s setting is high atop a hill overlooking Chickamauga Dam. The cemetery’s perch saved it from the fate of many other cemeteries in the area flooded by rising waters of the Tennessee River. Once the hydroelectric dam was completed in 1940, rising lake levels caused the relocation of 24 cemeteries. To TVA’s credit, the Governmental Agency prides itself on being sensitive to cultural issues such as the impact from their operations on area cemeteries.
In fact, TVA has responsibly moved more than 550 cemeteries, in total, within its jurisdictional boundaries.
Their efforts of building the dam required TVA to purchase much of the surrounding land. Kings Point was acquired in the 1930s and officially closed in 1938. According to a gravemarker survey performed in 1941, the last known burial was in 1933.
When Pine Street was placed into disuse, clear access into Kings Point Cemetery was no longer available.
Kingspoint Cemetery has since fallen into complete disrepair. With scores of sunken gravesites, toppled tombstones, and a collapsed mausoleum, extreme caution must be heeded by visitors. A thick carpet of Periwinkle obfuscates landscape contours. Voids and obstructions are not readily apparent.
Of the few epitaphs which can be read, interesting stories emerge. A stark example is that of Sam Cleage Lumpkin who was “Murdered Over a Dog Fight.”
The most notable burials in Kings Point are those of the Woodward Family.
In today’s world of instant sharing of selfie pics via Facebook and Instagram, we can only imagine piling the entire family into a horse-drawn wagon for a day-long outing to have a professional photographer shoot a group picture. However, in February 1897, 10 members of the Woodward family excitedly took a family excursion. They loaded 10 family members into a wagon pulled by the family’s two horses on their way to Chattanooga for a family photograph.
At the railroad tracks near Orchard Knob Avenue, the whistles and bells of an oncoming passenger train went unheeded by the wagon driver. 24 year old George T. Woodward encouraged his horses across the tracks but not before Southern Railway Engine No. 846 barrelled into them. Bodies of the family were, reportedly, thrown as high as telegraph wires. The sole surviving family member, 3 year old Vergie Woodward, was discovered unhurt on the engine that pulled the train. The next day’s newspaper headlines read: “NINE MEMBERS OF ONE FAMILY HURLED INTO ETERNITY.”
All 9 family members killed by the tragedy are buried in Kings Point.
Can you imagine the sadness which surrounded these gravesites on this hallowed ground 120 years ago?
With the proven cultural sensitivity TVA has provided cemeteries in the past, it seems responsible to reopen Pine Street allowing free access and rehabilitation efforts to take place at Kings Point Cemetery.
As with many abandoned cemeteries I visit, Kings Point is not included in Google Maps. I’ve suggested it to their database administrators in hopes it will be added soon. That said, the location map is included below. The cemetery is located on the map at the end of Pine Street which juts off Hwy 58.