Stone Mountain

Stone Mountain

:"This article is about Stone Mountain in Georgia, USA. For other uses, see Stone Mountain (disambiguation)."Infobox Mountain
Name = Stone Mountain
Photo = Stonemtn2.jpg
Caption = Overview of Stone Mountain
Elevation = convert|1683|ft|m|0
Location = Stone Mountain, Georgia, USA
Range = None
Prominence = convert|825|ft|m|0|abbr=on
Coordinates = coord|33|48|21.40|N|84|8|43.52|W|region:US_type:landmark|display=inline,title
USGS Stone Mountain, GA
First ascent =
Easiest route =

Stone Mountain is a granite dome monadnock located in Stone Mountain, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. At its summit, the elevation is 1,683 feet (513 m) amsl and 825 feet (251.5 m) above the surrounding plateau. The mountain extends underground to several surrounding counties. While Stone Mountain is the largest exposed granite 'stone' in the world in terms of overall exposed granite, [" [ Stone Mountain] ." "The New Georgia Encyclopedia."] it is only about one quarter the height of El Capitan in Yosemite (3,000 feet above valley level), the tallest known exposed granite monolith on earth. [" [ Yosemite National Park] ." "The Columbia Encyclopedia" (Sixth Edition), 2008.] Stone Mountain is well-known not only for its geology, but also for the enormous bas-relief on its north face, the largest bas-relief in the world." [,2091,4802_16275282_27560837_13713914,00.html Stone Mountain] ." "," retrieved February 2007.] Three figures of the Confederate States of America are carved there: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis.


The mountain is more than five miles (8 km) in circumference at its base. The summit of the mountain can be reached by a steep walkup trail, which starts near the Confederate Hall and park entrance. Alternatively, the summit can be reached by the Skylift.

The top of the mountain is a surreal landscape of bare rock and rock pools, and it provides views of the surrounding area and the skyline of downtown Atlanta, often Kennesaw Mountain, and on very clear days even the Appalachian Mountains. On some days, however, the top of the mountain is covered in a heavy fog, and visibility can be limited to only a few feet. It is not uncommon during the summer months to find the downtown skyline almost completely obscured by smog. The clear freshwater pools of the summit are formed by rainwater gathering in eroded depressions, and are home to unusual clam shrimp and fairy shrimp. The tiny shrimp appear only during the rainy season, and it is believed that the adult shrimp die when the pools dry up, leaving behind eggs to survive until the next rains.

The mountain's lower slopes are wooded. The rare Georgia oak was first discovered at the summit, and several specimens can easily be found along the walk-up trail and in the woods around the base of the mountain. In the fall, the extremely rare Confederate Yellow Daisy ("Viguiera Porteri") flowers on the mountain, growing in rock crevices and in the large wooded areas.


Stone Mountain is a pluton, a type of igneous intrusion. Primarily composed of granite, the dome of Stone Mountain was formed during the formation of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the eastern edge or front range of the Appalachian Mountains.Fact|date=February 2007 It formed as a result of the upwelling of magma from within the Earth's crust. This magma solidified to form granite within the crust below the surface.

The granite is composed of quartz, feldspar, microcline and muscovite, with smaller amounts of biotite and tourmaline. Embedded in the granite are xenoliths or pieces of foreign rocks entrained in the magma. The xenoliths of the Stone Mountain granite are composed of two types of metamorphic rocks; gneiss and amphibolite xenoliths of the country rock torn from the conduit as the granite ascended through the earth's crust. These xenoliths are generally angular, display a foliation, have feathery black amphibole and have a reaction rim of pale yellow orthoclase around them.

Other xenoliths are composed of restite and are generally rounder, lack the amphibole and reaction rims and have weaker foliation. These are cognate inclusions and were presumably the rock which the granite melted from. The presence of abundant metamorphic xenoliths and restite implies that the granite is an S-type granite formed from melting of sedimentary metamorphic rocks.

The granite displays an east-west foliation and abundant muscovite. The muscovite is probably metamorphic in origin. Late metasomatic veins of black tourmalne, K-feldspar, and amphibole are present through the granite and manifest as pale feldspar-filled fractures, often with large fans of amphibole.

The granite intruded into the metamorphic rocks of the Piedmont region during the last stages of the Alleghenian Orogeny, which was the time when North America and North Africa collided. Over time, erosion eventually exposed the present mountain of more resistant igneous rock, in processes similar to those that have exposed Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming.


The largest low relief sculpture in the world, the Confederate Memorial Carving depicts three Confederate leaders of the Civil War, President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. The entire carved surface measures three acres, about the size of three football fields. 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 1912, the carving existed only in the imagination of Mrs. C. Helen Plane, charter member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). The Venable family, owners of the mountain, deeded the north face of the mountain to the UDC in 1916. The UDC was given 12 years to complete a sizable Civil War monument.

On many summer nights the mountain is home to the Lasershow Spectacular which uses popular and classic music to entertain park guests with a large fireworks and laser light display. The show is a patriotic tribute to the southern United States and the country as a whole. The American Civil War is acknowledged, but the strength of a reunited country concludes the message, with Sandi Patti singing the Star Spangled Banner. There are still old favorites included with the show, “Devil Went down to Georgia”, “Celestial Soda Pop”, and “Trilogy”. There have been several additions to the show for its 25th anniversary.


Carving and the Ku Klux Klan

Ku Klux Klan activities at Stone Mountain are deep-rooted, although the original conception of the memorial pre-dates the 1915 revival of the Klan. The revival of the Ku Klux Klan was emboldened by the release of D. W. Griffith's Klan-glorifying film "The Birth of a Nation", and by the lynching of Leo Frank, who was convicted in the murder of Mary Phagan.Fact|date=February 2007 On November 25, 1915, a group of robed and hooded men met at Stone Mountain to create a new incarnation of the Klan. They were led by William J. Simmons, and they included a group calling itself the Knights of Mary Phagan. A cross was burned, and the oath was administered by Nathan Bedford Forrest II, the grandson of the original Imperial Grand Wizard, Gen. Nathan B. Forrest, and was witnessed by the owner of Stone Mountain, Samuel Venable.

Fundraising for the monument resumed in 1923, and in October of that year, Venable granted the Klan easement with perpetual right to hold celebrations as they desired.Fact|date=February 2007 Because of their deep involvement with the early fund-raising and their increasing political clout in Georgia, the Klan, along with the United Daughters of the Confederacy, were able to influence the ideology of the carving, and they strongly supported an explicitly Confederate memorial. Gutzon Borglum was commissioned to do the carving, and he with the Stone Mountain project. Of the $250,000 raised, part came directly from the Ku Klux Klan but part came from the federal government, which in 1924 issued special fifty-cent coins with Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson on them.

Borglum abandoned the project in 1923. American sculptor Augustus Lukeman continued until 1928, when further work stopped for thirty years.

In 1958, at the urging of Governor Marvin Griffin, the Georgia legislature approved a measure to purchase Stone Mountain for $1,125,000. In 1963, Walker Hancock was selected to complete the carving, and work began in 1964. The carving was completed by Roy Faulkner, who later operated a museum (now closed) on nearby Memorial Drive commemorating the carving's history. The carving was considered complete [ "Stone Mountain History"] ,; retrieved February 2007] on March 3, 1972.

Plane crashes

On September 16, 2003, a small airplane crashed around dusk into the back of the mountain, a remote cliff area which is not normally accessible. [NTSB Accident Report: [ Stone Mountain] , 16 September 2003.] The pilot, the airplane's only occupant, was confirmed dead, and although the official accident report notes no probable cause, a witness "stated that the accident pilot threatened on multiple occasions when she knew him to commit suicide by flying into Stone Mountain." Firefighters had to take the Skylift up and then rappel more than halfway down to the site of the plane's wreckage.

According to George Weiblen's annotated calendar for Monday, May 7, 1928: "Mail plane crashed on mountain at 8:00 P.M."



Stone Mountain Park, which surrounds the Confederate memorial, is owned by the state of Georgia and managed by the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, a Georgia state authority. The Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation currently has a long-term contract to operate the park and its attractions.

During the 1996 Summer Olympics, Stone Mountain Park provided venues for Olympic events in archery, tennis, and cycling. The 8,200-seat tennis stadium was a permanent venue, and the venues for archery and cycling were temporary.

The Confederate Hall, operated directly by the Stone Mountain Memorial Association or SMMA, is a museum that educates park guests and local students on the geology and ecology of Stone Mountain, together with the history of the war in Georgia.

There are several hiking trails including a 1.3 mile trail from Confederate Hall to the top of Stone Mountain and a 5 mile trail around the mountain. The park also offers camping, fishing, picnic sites and golfing.

Other attractions are operated by the commercial operators, and include:

*The Skylift, a Swiss built cable-car to the summit of the mountain, passes by the carving on the way up.
*The Scenic Railroad, a standard gauge railroad that circles the entire circumference of the mountain in a loop, provides views of the mountain en route. For years the railroad utilized three authentic steam locomotives to pull trains and a diesel-powered trolley nicknamed cite web | title = "The Dinkey" | url = However in the mid-1980s the steam locomotives and the trolley were retired in favor of diesel locomotives, because of maintenance costs.
*The Riverboat offers a scenic cruise aboard a reproduction Mississippi riverboat on 363-acre (147 ha) Stone Mountain Lake.
*The Antebellum Plantation and Farmyard is composed of original buildings, built between 1790 and 1845, which have been re-erected here to represent a pre-Civil War Georgia plantation.
*A 732-bell carillon that originated at the 1964 New York World's Fair, provides a daily concert.
*A covered bridge, dating from 1892, which originally spanned the Oconee River in Athens, Georgia.
*A grist mill, dating from 1869 and moved to the park in 1965.
*"Crossroads", a recreation of an 1872 southern town including a modern 4-D movie theater which currently features an exploration of the history of some folk stories.

Cherokee Trail

Previously unknown to most people, there is a small wooded trail, called the [ Trail] , that leads down either side of the mountain. It branches off a few hundred yards from the beginning of the main trail to merge with the Connecting Trail and continues around the mountain. This trail is well marked and about 6 miles long.


The short broadcast tower on the top of the mountain transmits two non-commercial stations: television station WGTV channel 8, and weatheradio station KEC80. FM radio station WABE was located on this tower from 1984 until 2005, when it was required to relocate to accommodate WGTV's digital conversion.


Further reading

*cite book | author=Deborah Yost | title=Georgia's Stone Mountain Park | publisher= Aerial Photography Services, Inc | year=1997 | id=ISBN 1-880970-11-2
*Golden Ink (1994-2003). [ About North Georgia: Stone Mountain] . Retrieved July 29, 2005.
*cite book | author=James W. Loewen | title=Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong | publisher=New Press | year=1999 | id=ISBN 1-56584-344-4
*Stone Mountain Memorial Association (2005). [ Stone Mountain: Ecosystem] . Retrieved July 30, 2005.
*United Daughters of the Confederacy(2007). [ Georgia Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy] .

External links

* [ Atlanta, Georgia, a National Park Service "Discover Our Shared Heritage" Travel Itinerary]
* [ City of Stone Mountain, Georgia] , from the City of Stone Mountain* [ Main Street Stone Mountain]
* [ Stone Mountain article] , from the New Georgia Encyclopedia
* [ Stone Mountain Park and City Information] * [ Stone Mountain Park Photos]
* [ Stone Mountain Park website] , from the state authority that owns the park

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