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Stone Mountain Park History

Stone Mountain Park History

Stone Mountain Park has delighted guests for 50 years but people have visited the area around the mountain for much longer.


  • 1838 – Aaron Cloud built the first tourist attraction on the top of the mountain. The wooden tower was 165 feet tall with a 40 foot square base. There was a $0.50 charge to climb the tower.

  • 1849 – The tower blew down during a storm and was never rebuilt.

  • 1865-1877 – Reconstruction rebuilds the railways and in turn restores tourism and Stone Mountain’s quarrying industry. Granite is shipped all over the world. It was used at the federal gold depository at Fort Knox, the Panama Canal, the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, and in the foundation of the Lincoln Memorial, just to name a few. Virtually every state has a building that uses Stone Mountain granite.

  • 1887 – The Venable Brothers bought all of Stone Mountain for $48,000 and ran the quarrying operations.

  • 1915 – Gutzon Borglum, a famous sculptor, drew up the first sketches of the memorial, for Mrs. Helen Plane, a charter member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). She was the first person to talk about putting a memorial carving on the mountain.

  • 1916 – Samuel H. Venable leased the north face of the mountain to the UDC on the condition that a suitable monument be completed in 12 years. Lack of funding and World War I delayed the start of the carving until 1923.

  • June 23, 1923 – Carving begins on Stone Mountain.

  • 1924 – Borglum finished the head of Robert E. Lee and unveiled it on Lee’s birthday, January 19.

  • Feb. 19, 1924 – Committee overseeing the construction of Stone Mountain votes to cancel Gutzon Borglum’s contract, following Borglum’s outburst in the local papers over problems with the project. Borglum went on to carve the figures on Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

  • April 1, 1925 – Sculptor Augustus Lukeman takes over the project. He suggests that three men, Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, be enshrined on the face of the mountain.

  • April 9, 1928 – After blasting Gutzon Borglum’s work from the face of the mountain, Augustus Lukeman unveils his work.

  • May 20, 1928 – The Venables reclaim Stone Mountain, ending any attempt to complete the sculpture. Lukeman was only able to get the figures of Lee and Davis finished before this time.

  • 1944 – First Easter Sunrise Service first held.

  • April 11, 1956 – The Venable family signs a quit claim deed for the area encompassing Stone Mountain, giving it to Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial, Inc.

  • 1958 – The State of Georgia purchased Stone Mountain and the surrounding land to create a 3,200 acre park. Focus was placed on development for recreation and entertainment and the completion of the carving.

  • Feb. 21, 1958 – Gov. Marvin Griffin signs a bill creating the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, superseding the old Authority.

  • Sept. 19, 1958 – Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial, Inc. gives Stone Mountain to the state of Georgia.

  • April 12, 1962 – The Stone Mountain Scenic Railroad opens at Stone Mountain Park.

  • April 26, 1962 – The first Stone Mountain train, General II, pulled out of the station.

  • Nov. 28, 1962 – The Skylift opens at Stone Mountain Park. Governor Ernest Vandiver and Swiss Ambassador August Lindt attend the ceremony.

  • April 16, 1963 – The Antebellum Plantation opens at Georgia’s Stone Mountain Park.

  • 1963 – The Antique Car and Treasure Museum and Confederate Hall opens at Stone Mountain Park.

  • July 4, 1964 – Carving resumes on the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial. It was under the direction of Walter Hancock. Roy Faulkner was the work crew foreman.

  • 1964 – The Carillon is donated by the Coca-Cola Company after its exhibit at the World’s Fair in New York City.

  • 1964 – The Riverboat Complex opens for the first time.

  • April 14, 1965 – Stone Mountain Park officially opens, operated by Berlio of Georgia, Inc.

  • 1965 – Construction on the Stone Mountain Inn is completed.

  • 1965 – The Grist Mill and Covered Bridge are moved to Stone Mountain Park from Elijay, GA and Athens, GA respectively.

  • 1967 – The Fantastic Fourth Celebration first held.

  • 1968 – An 18-hole Golf Course designed by Robert Trent Jones opens.

  • 1968 – Beach opens at Stone Mountain Park.

  • 1968 – Yellow Daisy Festival is first held at Stone Mountain Park.

  • May 9, 1970 – Dedication services are held for the carving although work continues through 1972. Vice president Spiro Agnew attends instead of President Nixon.

  • March 3, 1972 – The Stone Mountain Carving is completed.

  • 1972 – Highland Games first held.

  • 1972 – The First Tour of Southern Ghosts opens.

  • 1972 – The First Frontier Days- Georgia Between the Wars event is held.

  • 1976 – The Scarlett O’Hara Riverboat is built at Stone Mountain Park.

  • 1977 – Water slide added to beach; sports complex with mini-golf, tennis and roller skating opens.

  • 1979 – The Great Miller Lite Chili Cook-off first held.

  • 1983 – Ice Chalet, The Animal Forest (designed by Wild Kingdom’s Jim Fowler) and Mountain Top Theater opens

  • 1983 – The Lasershow Spectacular first shown on the north face of Stone Mountain.

  • 1986 – The New Memorial Depot for Scenic Railroad built.

  • 1989 – The Evergreen Resort completed; additional 18 holes of golf added to the golf course.

  • 1994 – New golf clubhouse, The Commons, is built.

  • July 1996 – Centennial Summer Olympic Games events are held at the park. Stone Mountain Park was the venue for tennis, cycling and archery. The new aerial tramway opens, and the top of the mountain complex was renovated.

  • July 18, 1996 – 3:00 a.m. the Summit Skyride (formerly the Skylift) transported the Olympic torch before heading to downtown Atlanta for the opening ceremonies.

  • 1997 – Memorial Hall is renovated and Discovering Stone Mountain Museum opened.

  • 1998 – Herschend Family Entertainment selected to manage the commercial aspects of Stone Mountain Park as part of privatization effort

  • 1999 – The Indian Festival & Pow Wow event and AtlantaFest first held.

  • 2001 – The Outdoor Quarry Exhibit opens.

  • 2001 – The Great Barn® opens.

  • 2001 – Farmyard is opened as part of the Antebellum Plantation.

  • 2002 – 1870s town of Crossroads opens along with demonstrating crafters, Georgia's first 4D Theater, and several shops & restaurants.

  • October 2002 – The First Annual Pumpkin Festival is held.

  • November 2002 – Stone Mountain Christmas opens as “A Southern Christmas”

  • March 2003 – Kid’s Spring Break festival first held.

  • 2003 – Olympic archery range & velodrome site restored to a songbird habitat.

  • 2004 – The Treehouse Challenge opens.

  • 2004 – Ride The Ducks™ tours begin.

  • 2004 – Major renovation of Confederate Hall as an Environmental Education Center and museum on the mountain's geolgy and ecology.

  • November 2005 – A Southern Christmas renamed to A Stone Mountain Christmas.

  • June 3, 2006 – Extreme Summer Adventure festival & Camp Highland Outpost opens.

  • April 2007 – Tour de Georgia bicycling race finishes stage seven inside the park.

  • May 2007 – Animal Planet Summer Adventure opens.

  • July 2008 – Great Locomotive Chase Adventure Golf opens.

  • May 3, 2008 – Debut of digitally remastered 25th Anniversary edition of the Lasershow Spectacular.

  • May 2008 – SkyHike®, the nation's largest family adventure course, opens.

  • December 31, 2008 – Snow Mountain opens.

  • May 2011 – Debut of the Lasershow Spectacular in Mountainvision®.

  • March 2012 – Stone Mountain Park opens Geyser Towers®.