"Ode to the Confederacy" Stone Mountain State Memorial Park by goingsolo
Stone Mountain State Memorial Park Travel Guide: 33 reviews and 87 photos
"Save in defense of my native State, I never again desire to draw my sword."
General Robert E. Lee.
Stone Mountain itself is a large granite outcropping. Actually, it is the largest outcropping of exposed granite in the entire world. That may be reason enough to visit the park. Or not.
Stone Mountain State Park is one of Atlanta's most well known tourist attractions. This is surprising when you consider that the park is basically a tribute to the Confederacy- the government formed when the south seceded from the Union, resulting in a civil war to keep the now United States together. When visiting Stone Mountain Park and eyeing the Confederate flags whipping in the wind and the model plantation homes once tilled by slaves, you may begin to wonder if the South did, in fact win the war.
The carving, and the park, reflect the feelings of many people from the South that the leaders of the Confederacy were their heroes. While this may appear distasteful to many, it is important to note that Robert E. Lee is one of the most admired and respected generals in American history. So much so that the Union wanted him to lead their campaign and were quite chagrined when Lee resigned his army commission to lead the south. The Union army questioned its ability to win the war with Lee in command of Southern forces. Lee's defeat, surrender and subsequent death a couple of years after the war did nothing to diminish the belief in his abilities as a general.
During my first visits to Georgia, I was a bit surprised by this tribute to the Confederacy. In my naivety, the issue seemed so clear: the north was fighting for freedom and the south was wrong. But, after a bit of research I developed a greater understanding of the conflict and the tragic war. Whether their cause was wrong or right, the Confederates had deep loyalties to their states and those who sought to protect what they believed were their rights. For many southerners, the war was about freedom and protecting their rights, families and homes.
Stone Mountain is known for several things. Most notably, it is the Mount Rushmore-esque carving of the heroes of the Confederacy. This carving is reason enough to visit. It is actually larger than the Mount Rushmore carving and it took more than 50 years to etch the likenesses of Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee into the side of the mountain.
Centered around these outcroppings , carvings and tributes to the controversial former south is Stone Mountain State Park. The park has a rather disturbing history as it was once used
by the Ku Klux Klan to hold rallies. At some point, the Klan was ousted from the area and it became the park that it is today.
Stone Mountain Park is a half hour away from Atlanta and it contains as many shows, attractions and other means of obtaining money from visitors as any tourist attraction possibly can. It is more of an amusement park type attraction than anything else.
But Stone Mountain is worth a visit for two reasons. The first is that you can take a short trail to the top of the granite mountain and see incredible views which extend to the North Georgia mountains. The second reason is to see the impressive carving in the face of Stone Mountain. Those wishing to learn more about Georgia's civil war history would probably be better off visiting sites like Kennesaw Mountain and the battlefield parks in northern Georgia.
The mountain is the main attraction here, and walking to the top doesn't require admission or even that you enter the park. But to see the best view of the Confederate carving, you do have to walk through the park, and this is definitely a sight worth seeing. The remainder of this park is filled with touristy exhibits and shops which could really be skipped, although some of the buildings are quite impressive.
- Pros:Impressive carving and a great views from the top.
- Cons:An overpriced tourist attraction.
- In a nutshell:Worth a visit for the pros if you avoid the cons.
Another way to see Stone Mountain, other than on foot or by air, is to circumnavigate it. The railroad circles the... more travel advice
At the crossroads, you'll find the bakery, mill, glass and candle shop and the 4d theatre. Characters walk around... more travel advice
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