I really wasn't exactly sure of what to expect when we got there. I figured it would be very comparable to our trip to see Mt. Rushmore several years ago.
There are many similarities. Besides the obvious carving on a mountain... both are heavily associated with Gutzon Borglum, the man who gets pretty much all of the credit for Mt. Rushmore. Before he started on his South Dakota project, he started carving on Stone Mountain. Borglum completed carving Lee's head on Stone Mountain, then had a falling out with others on the project. Borglum's work was erased from the mountain, and begun again by his replacement.
Unlike Mt. Rushmore, this project had many false start moments. The project stretched from the early 1920s, until it was completed in 1972.
We asked at our hotel if we could spend a whole day at the Stone Mountain park, and we were assured that we could easily... and we did.
We got there a bit before 10 and were there into the evening. We could have spent another day there easily.
There is a theme park vibe here.... and I think this is technically a theme park. There are some play areas, a duck ride, and other rides, almost all associated with the mountain. We took the sky train to the top of the mountain which was fun, and the top of the mountain offers a great view, as you would expect.
After that, we took the 5 mile train ride around the mountain. We skipped the Duck Ride.
There is a great movie about the carving on the mountain, and a museum exhibit about it, and its creation and history. They also show a film about the Civil War in the area.
There is an old plantation and some historic buildings that have been moved to the park area.
We did notice that the focus here is on the men who carved the mountain. The three Confederates shown in the carving are mentioned here and there, briefly. And, early involvement in the project by the Ku Klux Klan was mentioned in the museum, but not given much acknowledgement. I talked to many staff there who seemed to enjoy being a part of the park. In my opinion, the park, the staff, and the town are doing a great job of preserving the monument as they progress forward.
In the museum, I learned about a half dollar coin made in 1925 to help raise funds for the carving. The US Mint was agreeable to putting Confederates Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson on the coin, but Jefferson Davis was omitted. The Confederate President would be immortalized in the Georgia Monument, but not on an American coin.
I did pick up an ironic collectible in the gift shop at Stone Mountain. It is a medallion to put on a walking stick. It shows the three Confederates shown on the mountain carving... with an American flag in the background.
After walking what must have been miles around the park, my friend and I decided that we could not leave the park without hiking from the bottom to the top of the mountain.
We were very happy to take the sky bus back down after our accomplishment.