When Annie and I moved from Nashville to Chattanooga in 1988 we were thrilled to be renting a four-level duplex on Shingle Road on the side of Lookout Mountain. It felt as if we were living inside a National Park, and indeed we were surrounded by park property. The Hardy Trail, remnants of the old broad gauge railroad, was just a few feet from our door. Union and Confederate troops had clashed just a stone's throw away.
As I walked the trails of Lookout, I often came across old stonework and wondered what it represented. Fortunately, John Wilson (who lived just down the road below the Cravens House) had written a book called Lookout: the story of an Amazing Mountain which explained much that I saw, yet this only whetted my appetite for more.
And so I started reading every book I could find about Lookout Mountain, borrowing books from friends, photocopying old newspaper articles at the Library, measuring trails with a bicycle odometer. Mountain legends such as William Raul and John Smartt gave me insights. I wish today that I had been more careful to note all those sources, to give credit where it is due, but at the time I was rushing headlong towards publishing what I thought would be a tiny book, small enough to fit in your pocket and take with you into the woods.
Despite encouragement from the University of Tennessee Press, I never published that book. I got bogged down in trying to decide how to produce a map of the trails, Annie and I bought a house on Signal Mountain, and despite yearly vows to the contrary the project languished for more than a decade.
In the meantime, the Internet changed everything about how my book could and should be published. Even now, as I write this in 2011, I must admit to at least another few years of foot-dragging delay. Let's hope I can get the momentum going again.