One Spot, Seven States
When Lookout Mountain was a hit for View-Master
Just outside Chattanooga, Tenn., Lookout Mountain (which crosses the Georgia border) is home to several major attractions including:
The Incline Railway, which has been in operation since 1895 and is the world’s steepest passenger railway;
Ruby Falls, the tallest and deepest underground waterfall open to the public in the United States;
And Rock City Gardens, a 4,100-foot walking trail showcasing rock formations, caves, a waterfall, an overlook where you can see seven states all at once and and a kitschy roadside attraction called Fairyland Caverns.
Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, was a popular spot for View-Master. Reels and packets featuring the scenic beauty of the area were released from the 1940s all the way through the early 2000s. And, at the height of View-Master’s popularity as a postcard-like souvenir, the brand had a strong selling partner in the Lookout Mountain Photo Shop.
These scans are from the July 1949 Dealerscope, a publication created for and distributed to View-Master dealers.
Here’s a transcript of the article:
SPECIAL MADE VIEW-MASTER BAR INCREASES SALES 5 TIMES
A View-Master Bar, designed and built locally at a cost of $90 for the Lookout Mountain Photo Shop of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, has increased the sale of Reels approximately five times, reports the store’s owner, James E. Webster.
“We obtained the idea from your Bar which we saw at the Cleveland show last fall,” Webster explains. “But,” he adds, “we incorporated a feature which has definitely helped to attract the customer’s eye. This feature involved the installation of frames on either side of the ground glass area in the center which will accommodate six color transparencies on each side of the case. The center is thus left free for the name Sawyer’s View-Masters and Reel prices.”
The Lookout Mountain Photo Shop is located in the main entrance building of Rock City Gardens (pictured on View-Master Reel No. 326) and caters mainly to the summer tourist trade.
His experience with the View-Master Bar so far, Webster says, has convinced him that he will have to assign one clerk to that section of his store exclusively in order to handle the increased business he feels confident the Bar will attract.
After reading that I wanted to get a look at the main entrance building to Rock City Gardens, so I pulled all the packets and reels I had on Lookout Mountain and gave them a second look. Sadly, my copy of reel No. 326 didn’t feature the entrance building.
This claim is mostly legend from what I could gather. Apparently, during the Civil War, two soldiers that didn’t know each other wrote in letters home to their respective families that they could see seven states from this point.
A bonus post highlighting the fascinating history of Fairyland Caverns and the Father of Mini Golf will be going out to paying subscribers on Thursday!