Historic Stone Mountain, Georgia near Atlanta
Stone Mountain, close to Atlanta, in the state of Georgia in the United States, is actually a granite dome monadnock, or isolated ridge of granite, rising about 825 feet above the ground. The vein of granite connected to it extends in several miles underground and connects to other lesser known protrusions nearby. In the early days of Stone Mountain as a granite source and a local park, it was called the largest piece of exposed granite in the world. This name is not true, however, since there are several larger areas of exposed granite, including another in the United States. At one point, there was a granite quarry there worked by nearby prisoners. Both the quarry and the prison have long since shut down.
In the early 1900s, Gutzon Borglum, the same sculptor who later did Mount Rushmore was hired to carve a memorial to the Confederate Army from the American Civil War on the face of the mountain. The carving wasn’t completed until Walker Hancock was hired in 1963 and finally finished it in 1973. The mountain and the surrounding land were purchased by the state of Georgia in 1958, and it stood as a simple wooded area with a few gardens for many years. One side of the mountain has a moderate to steep walk-up trail where people can climb to the top. Starting in 1944, an Easter Sunrise service has been held on the summit of the mountain each year, weather permitting.
Beginning in the early sixties with the construction of a man-made lake and a small gauge railroad surrounding the five-mile circumference of the base of the mountain, Stone Mountain Park was born and began to be a very popular destination for family outings. Just after the railroad began operation giving children rides through historic dioramas, a skylift was built taking passengers up the steep face where the carving could be viewed.
Slowly over the next few years, more and more attractions came to be built in and around the park making Stone Mountain Park a major vacation destination in the Southeast United States. These included an antique car museum, the first of several golf courses, and a beach and water park complex adjacent to the lake. In 1964 a Carillon was donated to the park by Coca-Cola and was moved there from the World’s Fair in New York City.
Today, the park is hardly recognizable to the early visitors surrounded as it is, by water parks, golf courses, tennis courts, a velodrome, and many other outdoor games, sporting, and family venues. The giant mountain of granite still lies at its center, however, and Stone Mountain Park is still a major tourist attraction in North Georgia.