Category: "Atlanta, GA"

Stone Mountain

November 8th, 2007

Link: http://www.stonemountainpark.com

Ok, so there is an enormous piece of granite 30 minutes outside Atlanta that has three men carved into its side. It is for all intents and purposes the "Confederate Mt. Rushmore" because it bears the likeness of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson.

ngeorgia.com/images/stone_mountain_carving.jpgThe largest low relief sculpture in the world, the Confederate Memorial Carving, depicts three Confederate heroes of the Civil War, President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. The entire carved surface measures three acres, larger than a football field. The carving of the three men towers 400 feet above the ground, measures 90 by 190 feet, and is recessed 42 feet into the mountain. The deepest point of the carving is at Lee's elbow, which is 12 feet to the mountain's surface.

In 1958 the state of Georgia purchased the mountain and the surrounding land. The Georgia General Assembly created the Stone Mountain Memorial Association. In 1960 the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Advisory Committee was composed of six internationally known figures in the world of art. A competition was held, and nine world-renowned sculptors submitted designs for a new sculpture. In 1963, based upon recommendations by the Advisory Committee, the Stone Mountain Memorial Association chose Walker Kirkland Hancock of Gloucester, Massachusetts to complete the carving. Work resumed in 1964, and a new technique utilizing thermo-jet torches was used to carve away the granite. Chief carver Roy Faulkner, a marine veteran with a talent for using the new thermo-jet torch, was able to remove tons of stone in one day. For over eight years Park guests could see and hear the workmen and their jet torches. The figures were completed with the detail of a fine painting. Eyebrows, fingers, buckles and even strands of hair were fine-carved with a small thermo-jet torch. The carving is actually much larger than it appears from Stone Mountain Park's attractions. Workers could easily stand on a horse's ear or inside a horse's mouth to escape a sudden rain shower. A dedication ceremony for the Confederate Memorial Carving was held on May 9, 1970. Finishing touches to the masterpiece were completed in 1972. -wikipedia

We went in late October, which I imagine isn't really peak season for the attraction, but it was still a great time. Stone Mountain Park is much more than the mountain itself, the park has miles of sidewalks for running/walking/biking that meander through the trees, there are private lakes, river boats, a theme-park city built at the base of the mountain, Duck Tours, cable cars that take you to the top of the mountain (if you don't feel like walking to the top), and more.

We paid $8 to park, which is reasonable. Adult tickets with access to each attraction are $25 during peak times, but we paid $15 for the limited selection that was available.

The park is beautiful and we got to see the entire thing courtesy of the Duck Tour. If you have never been on one of these you're missing out. I know they have them in most major cities (that have access to some water). The tour transport is an amphibious vehicle that holds 25-30 people. We drove around and saw the many picnic tables set up for anyone's (who has paid to park) use and then we drove directly into one of the private lakes and cruised around the water for awhile. The tour lasted about 45 minutes and it was (at least in part thanks to Captain Harrold) my favorite part of Stone Mountain Park.

We took the cable car to the top of Stone Mountain, which allowed a different point of view for the carving to see its immensity from up close. Once at the top of the mountain we climbed down a ways, hung out for a bit overlooking the greater Atlanta area and then hiked back to the top. Don't let the gradual decline fool you on the way down, getting back to the top is a chore.

It is hard to believe that a giant carving of the leaders of the Confederacy exists, and that it was commissioned during the Civil Rights Movement no less. But there it is, about 30 minutes outside Atlanta. We were able to wear ourselves out with just a few activities and spend only 4-5 hours at the mountain. There was more to do, or less, depending on your mood or energy level. I cannot say that I have visited many theme parks, but I had a great time at Stone Mountain Park.