Stone Mountain - Natural Wonder and Source of Historical Controversy

Just east of Atlanta, Georgia lies one of the most dramatic places in all American Southeast - Stone Mountain. Born deep underground under ...

Just east of Atlanta, Georgia lies one of the most dramatic places in all American Southeast - Stone Mountain. Born deep underground under enormous heat and pressure, this solid piece of quartz monzonite rock dominates a relatively flat landscape. Although technically a part of the Appalachian Mountains, Stone Mountain is quite far away from its parent mountain range. There is also a less famous side of this place that brings a lot of controversy there: in 1915, it became the birthplace of the second iteration of Ku Klux Klan would later become a source of hate, crime and violence directed at different minorities in the US, especially black people. To commemorate that dark event, a huge rock bas-relief depicting the leaders of the Confederacy was carved at Stone Mountain's north face. 

Stone Mountain is seen from far away. Its exposed part rises 825 ft / 251 m above ground and is  2 miles / 3.2 km in length and 1/2 mile / 0.8 km wide.
Yet the biggest part of the rock still sits underground.  
Confederate Hall welcomes visitors to its exhibition about the natural and human history of Stone Mountain. I was in a hurry to catch my flight home, so I missed a documentary about the Civil War.
Before this place became a park, the mountain was dug by different quarry operations (the four old postcards below are from Confederate Hall). According to Wikipedia, Stone Mountain granite was used in many buildings and structures, including the locks of the Panama Canal, the steps to the East Wing of the United States Capitol and the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.
People have long been knowing about Stone Mountain and its natural beauty. 
The carving featured the three leaders of the Confederacy - President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson on their horses.  
Gutzon Borglum who later became very famous after carving the four presidents on Mount Rushmore was hired to do the work (which he didn't finish because of Mount Rushmore). The carving is huge (76 ft x 158 ft / 23 m x 48 m) and was completed only in 1972.
I stitched this panorama with a dozen of separate frames. 
The railroad brought visitors and helped with quarry operations. Landowners built hotels, restaurants, stores, etc. to ensure tourists and quarry workers had all the amenities that needed while at Stone Mountain. 
The Stone Mountain train no longer brings tourists from far away - it only makes a loop around the mountain catering mostly to young visitors. 
People use two ways to get to the top of the mountain - by foot or by aerial tram. 
Of course, the latter is faster and easier, however many people still prefer hiking the walk-up trail (1.1 mile / 1.8 km) over the tram, because it brings fun as well as a physical challenge, and it's 100% free. 
Carvings from the late 19th century when this place was still a private property.  It became a state park in 1958.
Chewing gum is an extremely important component of the hike. And you gotta stick it to a wooden pole.
Atlanta as seen from Stone Mountain.
The most strenuous stretch of the trail.
Well-deserved break in the middle of the hike.
Some tiny freshwater shrimp live in those rain pools during the rainy season.
The A/C of the visitor centre at the summit is such a relief after a long and hot hike.
Stunning view to the northeast.
It only takes about 1/2 h by Cherokee trail to get from the top of the mountain to the base of its north face. 
It's a beautiful trail, highly recommended.

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