After a few weeks of playing Army at Fort Benning, I hooked up with some “long-lost” distant relatives who live nearby. They were such gracious hosts and had me over for Thanksgiving and showed me around town. One spot that they took me to was Stone Mountain, just a drive east from Atlanta. The granite stone that is Stone Mountain is quite large rising about 825′ (251 meters) above the surrounding area. Now designated as a park and natural preserve, the mountain has quite a controversial history.
Ascending Stone Mountain can be by foot or sky tram; in our case, as the sun was soon setting, we decided to take the gondola. In the photo above, you can see the massive carving of the Confederate leaders in the side of the granite face: Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Generals Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Also in the photo above, you can see at the top left of the summit, you can see the cables for the gondola (pictured below).
It was a very nice and scenic ascent in the gondola and provided nice views of the park and monument. The actual carvings of Davis, Lee and Jackson measure 90′ tall and 190′ wide (27 meters X 58 meters) and tower 400′ (121 meters) above the ground. As the gondola approached the summit I was able to take a close-up shot (below).
The original artist who was contracted to make the carving was Gutzon Borglum. But he abandoned the project in 1923 to create Mount Rushmore. The work, originally started in 1916 was halted in 1928 and was not finally completed until 1972 after it was purchased by the State of Georgia.
Stone Mountain was the site of KKK rallies and the notorious revival of 1915. Nathan Bedford Forrest III, the grandson of the founder of the KKK held rallies and cross burnings at Stone Mountain. Martin Luther King, Jr., mentions Stone Mountain in his I Have a Dream speech saying, “Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain in Georgia.” Later, granite suppliers from Georgia submitted pieces of the mountain to be used to make a monument in King’s honor but his foundation selected granite from China instead (go China!).
Once up on top, the view was spectacular. Atlanta was clearly visible in front of the setting sun. All of the tourists crowded around the western edge to take photos in front of the “Hotlanta” skyline and setting sun. If you are ever in Atlanta and have a little free time on your hands, I recommend Stone Mountain as a neat “get-away” for a few hours. The park is lovely, the view is magnificent and the sculpture is a bit of Americana history that is quite interesting.
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