June 18, 2011

6/14/11 – Stone Mountain

George had been to Stone Mountain before.  It’s a memorial, a natural wonder and a theme park.  We weren’t much interested in the rides, but were there for the history and geology.
Geology first:  Stone Mountain is literally that.  It’s a giant dome of granite sticking more than 800’ above the relatively flat countryside, about 15 miles from downtown Atlanta.  It’s more than 5 miles in circumference.  They say that the underground part of the rock is 10 times larger than what you can see above ground.  There’s a trail to the top on one side—or you can ride a tram (they call it a “Skyride”).
Wait—I’m getting ahead of myself!  On the north side of the mountain is the largest bas-relief sculpture in the world, the Confederate Memorial Carving, which depicts three Confederate leaders of the Civil War, President Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee and General “Stonewall” Jackson (and their favorite horses!)  The carved surface is about the size of 3 football fields.  The size is impressive from the ground, but even more when you’re seeing it at eye level on the tram.
Oops—I skipped ahead again...We got there bout 11:00 am—and found it was surprisingly deserted for a theme park!  There were families at some of the rides, but not like what you’d expect.  There’s a laser show projected on the face of the mountain, but it doesn’t start until 9:30, so I assume most people don’t come ‘til later.  We didn’t plan to stay that long.  We headed over to the memorial lawn and stared at the carving.   Walked all over the place and took way too many pictures. 
Opposite the mountain, down at the other end of the huge grass lawn is the Confederate Memorial Hall.   There are individual memorials for each state in the Confederacy around the outside.  All except two (Kentucky & Missouri) show the date the state seceded from the Union, was admitted to the Confederacy, and was readmitted to the Union.  I know a lot of people have problems with memorials to anything about the Confederacy, but there were a lot of good people on both sides, and they shouldn’t be ignored just because it's now politically correct to do so.

At Memorial Hall, we watched two movies:  one about the Civil War in Georgia, and the other about the history of creating the carving. 
THEN we rode the Skyride to the top of the mountain.  George made me buy round-trip tickets—he didn’t want to walk down.  (sigh)  They don’t run the tram frequently enough, so you’re stuffed in like dill pickles in a jar, and really can’t see much unless you’re on the outside.  (I made sure we were on the outside in the back on the way down.)  Then you can walk around on top of the mountain until time for the ride down.  It was windy and really hazy.   Apparently on a clear day, you can see forever.  (Sorry, Barbra.)  I mean, you can see all the way to the Appalachian Mountains.  We couldn’t.  We could barely see the skyline of Atlanta. 

Impressive hunk of rock!  Stone Mountain 

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