20 Fascinating Bits of Stone Mountain History
Taking a look at some interesting bits of Stone Mountain History that you might not know
Each year, Stone Mountain Park continues to give visitors access to over 3,200 acres of natural outdoor beauty and continues to be a destination location offering families a wide variety of exciting adventures and interactive attractions, including Geyser Towers, Skyhike, scenic train rides, and much more throughout the park. Stone Mountain Park also hosts numerous annual events and festivals for everyone of all ages to enjoy. In this list, we will take a look at some of the park's lesser known tidbits in history and discover how Stone Mountain Park has managed to remain a family vacation destination for almost 178 years and counting.
1. The granite mined from Stone Mountain is well traveled
Originally mined from Stone Mountain, the granite has traveled around the world and been used in some rather famous buildings. For example, The Imperial Hotel in Tokyo continues to stand to this day, surviving the 1923 earthquake that destroyed almost everything, all thanks to Frank Lloyd Wright for using the mountain's granite during construction. The granite has also traveled to Ft. Knox for use in the dome of the Federal Gold Depository, as well as Washington, D.C., having been used to partially build the east wing steps of the U.S. Capitol, and can also be located in Atlanta, GA, since the granite was used as part of the foundation in the Georgia Capitol building as well as the Panama Canal, just to name a few.
2. Celebrating a fantastic Fourth
It has been estimated that Stone Mountain has seen over 3 million visitors during its Fourth of July celebrations, taking advantage of the day-long event, including food, music, and fireworks displays over the last 41 years, which began in 1967.
3. Lasers set world records at Stone Mountain
Stone Mountain's event, "The Laser Show Spectacular", first debuting in 1983, and held at various times throughout the year for the last 25 years, has quickly become a tradition for Atlanta and the surrounding areas. Always changing and improving, first moving to the north face of the mountain in 1983, this show has continued to wow spectators over the years with breathtaking fire, laser, and fireworks effects all set to a perfectly-timed music ensemble. This is officially the longest running laser show in the world.
4. Take a ride in the sky
Stone Mountain visitors can take a ride in a Swiss cable car, indulging in stunning views all around as you travel more than 825ft from the ground to the top of Stone Mountain on The Summit Skyride, which is the park's top attraction for visitors who wish experience unique views of the Atlanta skyline, Appalachian Mountains, and more. Once you travel round-trip in this cable car, you will have gone a distance of nearly a half-mile.
5. The Stone Mountain yellow daisy
Discovered as a new species of flower in 1946, this flower, also known as the confederate daisy, can only be found within a radius of 60 miles around the Mountain. The month of August begins the growing season for these flowers which thrive in shallow soil located on the granite outcrops of the mountain. Each year, the park hosts the Yellow Daisy Festival, which made its first debut in 1968.
6. The lake is man-made
The lake at Stone Mountain is actually man-made and in order to fill it, workers took over two years to mark this job assignment complete.
7. An international team
Skilled stonecutters from all over the world traveled to Stone Mountain for work in the quarry, including England, Sweden, Italy, Norway, Scotland, and Wales.
8. A one-of-a-kind carving
The carving on the side of Stone Mountain, which depicts the Southern generals Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Thomas 'Stonewall" Jackson, as well as their loyal horses, is the only memorial to these three Southern generals in existence. Spanning three acres and measuring 190 feet wide, 11 feet deep, and 90 feet tall, it is actually larger than Mt. Rushmore. Lee is estimated to be close to nine stories tall, and Davis's thumb is approximately the size of a sofa.
9. Taking a guess at the weight
With skilled students and experts alike collaborating, it has been estimated that Stone Mountain could weigh an estimated one trillion pounds or more.
10. The natural district
The natural district is an area of Stone Mountain that remains undeveloped and is home to a couple of historically-interesting items. 1) The Grist Mill: This century-old mill, now located on the east side of the mountain, was moved here in 1965 from Elijay, GA. 2) The historical Covered Bride: made of pine and cedar wood, leading to Indian Island, this 100 year old bridge was moved to Stone Mountain Park in 1969 from Athens, GA.
11. Here come the Olympics
On April 26, in 1962, the Skyride provided the transportation for the Olympic Torch to the top of the mountain before it went to the opening ceremonies in downtown Atlanta, and in 1996, Stone Mountain Park had its second opportunity to rub elbows with Olympic royalty by hosting the Olympic tennis, archery, and cycling portions of competitions along the Songbird Habitat and Trails.
12. Shrimp on the mountain
At the top of Stone Mountain Park lie naturally-occurring depressions in the stone which gather the seasonal rains each year. Shrimp actually inhabit these water collections and leave their eggs in the soil once the rain water dries. Their young patiently wait until the following season's rain water is collected to hatch and are actually visible to the park's visitors.
13. 30 years and counting
Stone Mountain Park is the only place in Georgia where you can hear musical concerts from a Carillion, which was generously donated to the park by Coca-Cola following an exhibition in the 1964 World's Fair in New York City. The 732-bell Carillion is 13 stories high, and Mabel Sharp has exclusively played daily concerts as the carillonneur for 30 years and counting.
14. Record-setting camp grounds
Stone Mountain Park has one of the only two campgrounds in the state to receive the highest rating of 5W given by Woodall's North American Camp Directory, and is Georgia's largest campground with 441 sites available for visitors to take advantage of.
15. A trek through the treetops
One of the newer additions to Stone Mountain Park, SkyHike, which was introduced in 2008, gives you and your family the opportunity to explore the treetops as you hike through a quarter-mile course of patented overhead systems comprised of suspended wooden bridges, ropes, and net bridges with three levels of challenging trails to test the daredevil in you.
16. Forward thinking in 1915
Mrs. Helen Plane, a well-respected charter member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, was the first person to ever suggest placing a memorial carving on the mountain. The following year, the owner, Samuel H. Venable, leased the mountain's north face to the United Daughters of the Confederacy with the condition that a suitable monument be completed within 12 years. Unfortunately, due to lack of funding, and the start of World War II, the carving was delayed until 1923. The famous sculptor Gutzon Borglum began work and finished the Robert E. Lee's head portion of the carving which was unveiled on Lee's birthday in 1924. Borglum's sculpting contract was cancelled after voicing problems with the project publicly in the local papers, which allowed him to move on to carve Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.
17. A fresh start
In 1925, sculptor Augustus Lukeman took over the carving project in which he totally revamped the design, making the suggestion that the three Southern Generals and their trusty steeds be memorialized on the mountain face. The design idea was approved and Lukeman blasted Borglum's work off the mountain and began again, revealing his completed work in early 1928.
18. $.50 Please
Arron Cloud was the first person to ever build a tourist attraction on the top of Stone Mountain in 1838 by building a tower which consisted of a 40ft square base and stood 165 feet tall. Cloud charged visitors $.50 to climb this tower. In 1849, a storm caused the tower to collapse, and there was never an effort to rebuild.
19. A busy schedule
Each year, the park is host to over 25 festivals and events each year, giving visitors plenty of reasons to return for more adventures and exploration, time and time again.
20. All aboard
The very first Stone Mountain train, the General II, made its maiden voyage on April 26, 1962. The General II's engine weighed in at an astonishing 138,750 pounds on its own.
Lead image via "Stone Mountain Carving 2" by Jim Bowen - Flickr: Stone Mountain Carving. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.
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