Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

December 27, 2013

Stone Mountain — Part One

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Stone Mountain, 16 miles east of Atlanta, is the  world’s largest exposed granite monolith.  It rises more than 800 feet above the surrounding land. The mountain covers almost 600 acres.  Cut into the side of this granite mountain is a Confederate Memorial, the world’s largest piece of sculpture.  The carving is 80 feet tall and 180 feet wide.

The first white man to see the mountain seems to have been a Spanish captain in 1507.  He regarded the mountain so important that he called it Crystal Mountain.  He thought he saw diamonds and other precious stones lying on the ground.  However, he and his men were kept too busy fighting off Indians to get close enough to discover that what he thought were precious gems were the crystals of quartz.

There are stories of how Stone Mountain, which also has been called Rock Mountain, was traded by the Indians for $40 and a pony.  Other stories of a trade were for a muzzle-loading gun and $20, and with some trades , a jug of whiskey.  Ownership passed through several individuals,  but it is known by deed that the Venable family acquired the mountain in 1887.   Although the public was allowed access to the mountain, it remained private property until 1958 when the Georgia Legislature purchased the mountain and the surrounding land, 3,800 acres in all.  Today it is a Georgia State Park.

Having spent much time on the mountain as a young boy and teenager, I have a special fascination for the mountain.  There is much to intrigue the explorer.  A special story about Buzzard Roost I will share later.  As a young boy, the growth of trees on the mountain challenged my mind.  Dirt does collect and pines, cedars, and even oaks grow.  Of course, the are stunted, gnarled and twisted.  Even in season, you could find blackberries and huckleberries.  Most exciting for me was the discovery of fish in small rain pits on top of the mountain.  However, I learned they were not fish, but fairy shrimp. They are very small, and even swim backwards.  They would disappear when the pits dried up, but they soon came back after the next rain.  Evidently eggs were left and would hatch when water returned.

Around the base of the mountain there were two lakes, which in my boyhood days, were simply called the old lake and the new lake.  In the old lake we thought we had found oysters, and we  believed that we would thus find pearls.  However, they were only  fresh water mussels.

Now in my older years I can even make a confession.  It was not illegal in 1953, but certainly not wise!  I drove a 1936 Chevrolet to the top . . . and after dark!  I had seen others do it, and learned the  best route from some Army military who drove up almost every day for a period of time during World War II.  Going up was easy.  The difficulty was coming down.  That Chevy was blessed with such a low-ratio gear that very little braking was necessary.  You can understand how this mountain will always be a special memory in my life!

Truly, Stone Mountain is a fascinating and marvelous sight.  It has been suggested by geologist that the mountain is perhaps 2 million years old. How could this formation come into existence?  I cannot even speculate on the age of the mountain or the earth.   But I do know Who was there when it came into existence.  I even know Who created it, don’t you?

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  (Genesis 1:1)

But Stone Mountain, the formation, is  but a rock!  Stone Mountain, however, is much more that a large protruding rock or tourist attraction.  It is a community–a village–people.  I want to introduce you to Stone Mountain!  So, I will have a Part 2 tomorrow!



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