Stone Mountain

DeKalb County, Georgia (April 2010)

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Stone Mountain

Confederate Heros in Bas Relief

Stone Mountain

Stone Mountain rises above the plain just a few miles northeast of Atlanta, a solid monolith standing alone like nothing else around it anywhere east of the Appalachians. It started out millions of years ago as magma that hardened below the earth's surface. Slowly, over time, the surrounding landscape eroded but the granite forming Stone Mountain was a more durable substance that did not erode quite as rapidly. Thus, the mountain didn't rise from the earth, rather, the earth washed away from around it. Technically it's a monadnock, an isolated mountain, quartz monzonite. It's dimensions are awesome: five miles in circumference at its base; extending up to 9 miles underground at its deepest point; and rising 825 feet above the surrounding terrain.

More people probably know it for the large carving of Confederate heros, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and "Stonewall" Jackson, along with their horses Blackjack, Traveller, and Little Sorrel. This is the largest bas relief sculpture ever created, with a surface area of three acres. Parts of the sculpture sink into the hard granite as far as twelve feet. The effort was so daunting that carving beginning in 1916 wasn't considered complete until 1972.

Stone Mountain Crossroads

The Crossroads Section of the Park

The State of Georgia owns the site now, and for obvious reasons has played-down Stone Mountain's role as the birthplace of the modern Ku Klux Klan (albeit before carving began on the sculpture). Those days have now been relegated to the dustbins of history at this site. There is little vestige of that time still visible here anymore and it has been removed. They've definitely created a new positive connotation in a location once known for something rather hateful. The town of Stone Mountain is even led by an African-American mayor, which is probably the most telling feature.

In its stead, the State of Georgia had created an entertainment complex at the northern base of the mountain, along with numerous hiking trails around its 3,000 acres. One of the trails even leads to the top for those who like a bit of a challenge. They also operate a gondola called the Skyride that whisks passengers directly to the summit. I've done that a couple of times but unfortunately it was windy the day I took these photographs and they'd taken it out of service for the afternoon. You can see the Skyride's guide wires if you look towards the upper portion of this image.

Faux Nostalgia

A Replica Mill

One of the major attractions is called the Crossroads. It's based on a southern town as it might appear in 1872 architecturally speaking, but with plenty of modern attractions including a movie theater and miniature golf. Adding to that are a variety of shops, restaurants, and craft demonstrations.

Great Barn at Stone Mountain

The Great Barn Play Area

The kids particularly enjoyed an attraction called the Great Barn. It's not what you would expect from the outside; there are no farm animals to pet. Rather, it's a loud, clanging building where children are free to run-around collecting balls to be used in various activities, including shooting them at each other with cannons powered by compressed air. The kids loved it which means that mom and dad were overwhelmed by the acoustics and the high level of energy from hundreds of children running all about, and barely escaped with their sanity intact.