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1850-1852 Dr. Milo Smith

DR MILO SMITH 1842-52-62-63(Lived 1807-1869)

Reelected for a third term in January 1850, Mayor Smith led the board of alderman in applying for a new charter for Chattanooga.  The petition to the Tennessee State Legislature asked that Chattanooga be designated a city rather than a town.  Granted November 1849, the new charter also changed the way that the city government was selected.  The new charter mandated that eight aldermen and a mayor be elected on the last Thursday in December of each year.  So, in December 1850, Dr. Smith became the first mayor elected by popular vote. 

Five months into Mayor Smith’s fourth term, one of the most influential events in Chattanooga history occurred when a Western and Atlantic Railway train passed the Missionary Ridge tunnel and entered Chattanooga.  This first train arriving on May 9, 1851, marked Chattanooga’s emergence as a significant southern city and promised great growth.  .

Realizing that Chattanooga was quickly becoming linked to all areas of the south except for Alabama, the leadership of the city urged the states of Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia to construct a railroad from Chattanooga south into Alabama.  Mayor Smith and the Board of Aldermen believed so strongly in this plan that in 1852 they dedicated $100,000 of the city’s money to purchasing stock in the proposed Wills Valley Railroad, an action that would eventually have a negative impact on the young city’s financial situation.

Photo by Phillip Stevens and Matt Lea