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August 3, 2011
September 5, 2002
Going on the Chattanooga DUCKS tour is an interesting experience.
This tour is taken aboard an authentic (1942), renovated, 2 1/2 ton, WWII amphibious landing vehicle. It is known as a DUKW, with the letters D = model/year (1942), U = amphibious, K = all wheel drive and W = dual rear wheel axles.
When entering this strange looking vehicle through a fold-down ladder, you will find a narrow aisle way and narrow seats, of which will seat up to 25 people. Once aboard, the captain will inform you of the lifejacket whereabouts, and how to properly put them on if needed (coast guard regulations). After that you are ready to begin your journey!
Our captain was named Mike and while driving through the streets of downtown Chattanooga, he informed us of the historic and scenic spots along the way. After cruising a few blocks in town, we found ourselves being driven across a four lane divided highway, straight towards the Tennessee River.... full steam ahead!!! The sightseers standing on the river dock gave us a wave and a friendly shout as we went barreling past them. Splash!! We were in the water and soon sailing right along at our top speed of 7 mph.!!!
As Captain Mike turned us toward the Market Street Bridge and the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge, he gave us some history about Ross Landing. After passing these two bridges, Captain Mike explained that we were now in the 'Bluff View Art District' and we could see the pillars and roofline of the Hunter Museum. A little farther upstream, we prepared to pass by Maclellan Island, which is owned by the Chattanooga Audubon Society. A blue heron was seen standing at the river edge as we slowly churned past and the island is home to several animal species such as beavers, raccoons, muskrats, minks and in the summer, river otters. The Audubon Society has been trying to reintroduce the osprey to the area, however their attempts have been unsuccessful so far.
As we rounded the curve of this half-mile long island, a beautiful rainbow appeared against a dark, grayish blue sky, as we had apparently just missed the storm. Everyone was grabbing for their cameras as they wanted to capture the moment!! Captain Mike then proceeded to let the children aboard the vehicle have a special moment and be the 'captain' as they piloted this huge vehicle through the water. Several children (and some not so small children..."adults") took advantage of this opportunity! Everyone received a round of applause for their piloting abilities when the next person took over the helm....
This is something different to do while visiting Chattanooga, and it is a great way to do a relaxing and informative ride on the Tennessee River. The tour is approximately 1 hour with 15-20 minutes on land and 40-45 minutes in the water.
From journal A Weekend of Fun in Downtown Chattanooga