Working in the Visitor Center

The Visitor Center at Chickamauga
The Visitor Center at Chickamauga

While Tom and I are at Chickamauga and Chattanooga NMP (CHCH), our primary work duty will be working in the Visitor Center.  At Scotty’s Castle, working in the Visitor Center included cleaning and opening and closing the register.  Our duties are more limited at CHCH.  Although we will be working all the registers, we do not have to clean (Maintenance does all the cleaning) or open or close the registers (the Rangers do all of that).

What will we be doing?  We work from 8:15 until 5:15 so we open and close the Visitor Center.  This consists mostly of turning on the lights and unlocking or locking the doors.  We learned this duty pretty fast because they have idiot-proofed the light switches by painting the ones that we don’t touch black.  All we really have to remember is where all of them are located.

We have to raise the American flag at the beginning of the day and lower it at the end of the day.  Tom is especially good at this with all his years of Boy Scout and football game experience.  He always helped the Mogadore Boy Scout troop raise the flag at football games. I always feel like saluting or singing the Star Spangled Banner when we put it up.

When we are at the Chickamauga Visitor Center we will turn on the audio-visual equipment to show the movie which plays every 30 minutes all day long.  We are also in charge of making the announcement for the movie, helping people into the theater, and turning the movie on for each showing.  The movie is a great orientation to the battle and the battlefield and most of the visitors start with it.

We help orient people to the area and answer questions.  This is always challenging when we first start because we aren’t oriented yet.  Although we know the Chickamauga and Lookout Mountain parks pretty well, we aren’t familiar with Chattanooga yet.  So when people ask us questions about things outside the park we defer to the rangers.  Today I had a person ask me where the closest Volvo dealer was and another person asked if there was a bicycle repair shop at Lookout Mountain.  Fortunately there was a ranger close by who could answer.

We spend a lot of time at the Visitor Center handing out maps, showing people where we are on the maps, and answering basic questions about the park.  Tom and I really enjoy how interested people are in the area around them.  We have gotten a lot of veterans and currently enlisted military personnel.  Yesterday a young man came in who is writing a paper on CHCH for his military tactics officer training.  Amazingly enough, he and I were able to have a good conversation because we had both read the same, definitive book on the Battle of Chickamauga (good to know some of what I am reading is sticking in my head).

We are looking forward to learning more about the area and the park and being able to share that with the people who come to the Visitor Center.