Signal Mountain, nestled at the southern end of the Cumberland Plateau on Walden's Ridge, offers residents striking views, top-rated schools and an isolated town close to city culture and amenities.
The town is home to more than 8,000 residents, as well as its own library, schools, churches, parks, stores and trails.
Area residents rave of the kindness, safety and sense of community they feel in Signal Mountain.
My Chattanooga: What's your occupation?
Karin Glendenning: I'm a librarian at the Signal Mountain Library and have been for 11 years. Before that, I was a writer at the Times Free Press. I was a book editor when they used to have a book editor.
MC: When did you move to Signal Mountain?
KG: I've lived here all my life, really. My husband and I lived in Macon [Georgia] for seven years right after I got out of college for a few years, but the rest of the time I have lived here. And my mother lived here her whole life. She was born in 1920 and moved to Signal Mountain that year.
MC: Why did you choose to raise your family here?
KG: It's a wonderful place to live. It's really a nice community. The schools are wonderful, the people up here are bright, and it's really beautiful. I wouldn't want to live anyplace else.
MC: How many children do you have?
KG: I have four.
MC: Any grandkids?
KG: I have eight. My grandchildren are involved in all kinds of sports activities. There are just a lot of things to do [on Signal].
MC: What are your favorite activities?
KG: We love [hiking]. All my grandchildren played soccer and swam on the swim team so we were really involved in those kind of things. We'll be celebrating the [town's] 100th next year 2019. That will be the 100th anniversary of Signal Mountain, which is nice. And 2020 will be the 50th anniversary of the library, so we've been around for awhile.
MC: What would you say to someone considering a move to Signal Mountain?
KG: I would recommend it. I think it's a great place to live and raise a family. It's safe, and we're close enough to Chattanooga that we can take advantage of the wonderful cultural advantages that are available downtown, but we're in our own little community up here. I think it's a really open community, and friendly.
BY THE NUMBERS
WHO WE ARE
Median household income: $98,665 (2016 estimates)
Median age: 43
Black or African-American: 0.4%
Source: American FactFinder, U.S. Census Bureau
WHERE WE LIVE
Median sales price: $345,000 in 2017; $328,000 in 2016
Percentage change: 5.2%
Number of homes for sale: 63 in 2017; 99 in 2016
Percentage change: -36.4%
Source: Greater Chattanooga Realtors 2017 annual report
Signal Mountain's schools are considered some of the area's best, and are a main motivator for many who choose to move to the mountain. The independent Mountain Education Foundation solicits public donations through pledge drives and annual events to help provide resources not covered by the Hamilton County Department of Education and therefore unavailable in many of the district's other schools.
Proficiency (TVAAS): 1/5 overall, 2/5 in literacy, 1/5 in numeracy
Proficiency (TVAAS): 5/5 overall, 5/5 in literacy, 5/5 in numeracy
» Thrasher Elementary is making further use of its 10-acre campus with an outdoor classroom.
Signal Mountain Middle/High School
Proficiency (TVAAS): 1/5 overall, 2/5 in literacy, 1/5 in numeracy
ACT scores: 24.1 composite, 24.1 in English, 22.9 in math, 24.7 in reading, 23.8 in science
» SMMHS is part of the International Baccalaureate Program. The teaching and assessment methods embraced by the IB are considered best educational practices, according to the school's website. "As a school, we have made a commitment to emphasizing community and service and to encouraging our students to be active participants in both community building and community service," it reads.
Source: 2017 State Report Card
*The Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System scale runs from 1-5, with 1 denoting the least effective schools/districts and least amount of progress toward the Standard for Academic Growth.
Signal Mountain also has a home-school organization, and a private Christian school for kindergarten through fifth grade. Signal Mountain Christian School boasts small student-teacher ratios and shorter school days. The Christ-centered school "serves as an extension of your home to assist Christian parents in training up your children to love God's Word, develop Christian character and become equipped and motivated to impact the world for Christ," according to the school's website.
WHAT WE DO FOR FUN
Mountain Arts Community Center: One of the unique aspects of the community, this cultural haven is located in the former Signal Mountain Grammar School building, constructed in 1926. The center offers classes in dance, music, theater arts, fine arts, pottery, sculpture, weaving, yoga, tai chi and more, and is the site of several community-wide events. 809 Kentucky Ave. Call 423-886-1959 or visit signalmacc.org.
Pumpkin Patch: Funded and built in 1996 by members of the community, this wooden playground is popular with children, drawing families from both on and off the mountain. It features replicas of the Walnut Street Street bridge, the W Road footpath and the Chattanooga Choo Choo among the play forts, plus 50-foot ziplines, a 40-foot slide and more traditional play equipment. The community is again raising funds to revamp the aging structures, with a $250,000 goal. 1836 Taft Hwy. Visit pumpkinpatchplayground.org to stay up to date on progress, as the playground is closed until renovations are complete.
The Mountain Opry: These free Friday jam sessions welcome musicians from around the region to share toe-tapping bluegrass via informal performances and collaborations. The seats, reminiscent of those found in an old school auditorium, are often full, and audience members often clog onstage behind the performers. The opry, which celebrates its 39th anniversary this year, is run by volunteers. 2501 Fairmount Pike. Call 423-886-3252.
Signal Mountain Playhouse: This community-run playhouse presents a summer and winter production each year to sold-out audiences. Summer plays are enhanced by an outdoor setting — the playhouse's hand-built amphitheater in the woods — while winter productions are held indoors at locations around the mountain. This summer, the playhouse will be presenting "Shrek The Musical" on weekends in July. 205-311 Rolling Way. Call 423-763-7219 or visit smph.org.
Signal Point: One of the most popular destinations for hikers across the region, the 5.8-mile out-and-back hike between Signal Point and Edward's Point offers hikers a moderate walk with scenic views of the Tennessee River Valley overlooking Williams Island and the city of Chattanooga. It also offers views of Julia Falls Overlook and Rainbow Falls in the distance. Signal Point Park also serves as the southernmost trailhead of the Cumberland Trail, which will span more than 300 miles when completed.
The town's name comes from Signal Point, which played an important role in the Civil War, serving as high ground controlled by Union troops during the siege of Chattanooga in 1863. Soldiers used Signal Point to communicate through a unique signaling system.
BIG EVENTS: Signal Mountain hosts several community events including a tree-lighting ceremony at Christmas, Easter egg hunts, Fourth of July and Labor Day celebrations and recognizes the National Day of Prayer.
CITY SERVICES: The Signal Mountain Town Council meets the second Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Room at Signal Mountain Town Hall, 1111 Ridgeway Ave. The neighboring town of Walden holds its town hall meetings the second Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at Walden Town Hall, 1836 Taft Hwy.
Recycling: The town of Signal Mountain has a recycle center at 1151 Ridgeway Ave. that accepts most household items, including many deemed "hazardous materials," in single-stream containers.
The Signal Mountain Community Guild serves as a social and service organization for those in the community. The club began in 1928 and eventually formed a Newcomers Committee, which has since been folded back into the guild. The organization has monthly meetings, lunches, Ladies Nights, a book club and craft nights. There are no dues.
Several other clubs and community organizations meet on the mountain, including the Mountain Gardeners, Lions Club, Mothers of Preschoolers, and more.