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Stone Mountain Park & History

Thursday, July 3, 2008 1 comments

Stone Mountain sits on the western edge of a large belt of Lithonia Gneiss granite although the younger intrusive granite that comprises the mountain is entirely different from Lithonia granite. Rising to a height of 1,683 feet above sea level (roughly 650-750 feet above the surrounding Georgia Piedmont, depending on where it is measured), it is visible from Kennesaw Mountain to the west, Amicalola Falls State Park to the north and Mount Yonah to the northeast.

Technically known as a pluton, the mountain was formed during the complex folding and faulting that created the Blue Ridge Mountains, although Stone Mountain is not part of that range. The magma that created Stone Mountain was formed deep inside the earth, then forced its way out of the earth's molten center. Before the molten rock hit the air it stopped, initially forming the west side of the "pluton." Successive attempts at eruption (breaking through to the surface of the earth) also failed, but added to the size of the dome from west to east. Once the pluton was formed it began to cool. This occurred during the Alleghenian Orogeny, a massive collision of tectonic plates perhaps 350 million years ago.

Stone Mountain Park

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 6 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 Skyride, 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 The Dinkey. 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.

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