Exploring Ooltewah

If you’re headed to Tennessee or already live in the area, it’s worth checking out what Ooltewah has to offer. The small town may only be home to some 687 people, but there is still plenty to enjoy about the area.

A Brief History of the Town

James_County_Courthouse_3Once the county seat of James County (it later went bankruptcy back in 1919 and was therefore incorporated by Hamilton County), Ooltewah is still home to what was once the James County Courthouse. Today it is obviously no longer in operation, but still serves as a major landmark for the city. The National Register of Historic Places features it as well, ensuring it will always have a home in Ooltewah.

The main historic development in Ooltewah happened back in 1863. On November 24th, the 4th Michigan Calvary marched into the city and were successful in capturing 17 Confederate soldiers, two of which were officers. They also laid waste to four wagons.

The next day, the 4th Michigan Cavalry continued their rampage by destroying the town’s railroad bridge and burning 4,000 pounds of flour. They then captured another solider—this time a Confederate Lieutenant Colonel—and high-tailed it to Cleveland before it was night.

The Name Ooltewah

Of course, many people are most interested in the peculiar name of the city. No one knows its origins for sure, though it’s believed by many to be a Cherokee word that means “owl’s nest.” Whether or not that’s the case, owls have been adopted by local middle and high schools as their mascots.


Southern Adventist University

Ooltewah is home to Southern Adventist University. The college is owned and managed by the Southern Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. In terms of Southern Regional Colleges, it is consistently considered one of the best in that category. Many also believe it to be one of the most conservative Seventh-day Adventist schools in all of North America too.

Located in the Tennessee River Valley, you’d be hard-pressed to find a school with a more beautiful campus. It sprawls out for 1,000 acres and is surrounded by rural Tennessee.

Started in 1892, the school was originally called Graysville Academy and holds the distinction of being the first Adventist school in all of the South. It quickly grew in popularity and has hit a number of milestones over the years. In 1996, for example, they began offering Masters degree programs. This is when they took on their current name, after having changed several times in the past. Today they also provide doctoral degrees as well, aside from baccalaureates and associates.

The school is one of the only two in the world that offers a degree in biblical archaeology to undergraduates.

Where to Stay

If you plan on making a trip to the city, there are a number of hotels for you to choose from, each of which will ensure you enjoy your time. The Hampton Inn is definitely a great spot to rest your feet. It’s a very modern building with plenty of luxury. For something with a bit less frills, you can also check out the Super 8 in town. It has a rustic appearance, but is still a reliable place for a room.

Otherwise, you can stay out of town but nearby if you go to the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Chattanooga. Of course, the city will have a number of other places you can stay too, being that it’s the fourth largest city in the state.

Little Debbie Outlet

little debbie

One really cool feature of life in Ooltewah is that they have a Little Debbie outlet store you can visit during normal working hours. The famous food company, which is owned by the McKee family, is actually from the city. Two years ago, Ellsworth McKee sold his mansion there for just under $4,000,000. Today, the company is technically based in Collegedale, Tennessee, but still has quite the presence in Ooltewah.

At the outlet, you can find any Little Debbie product you like. You know it’s going to be fresh and, being an outlet, it will also come at an affordable price too.

The next time you’re in Chattanooga, consider a trip over to Ooltewah to see why so many love this charming town.