Before 1800, Stone Mountain was a ceremonial and meeting place for Native Americans, who discovered the mountain 9,000 years ago. In 1821, the Treaty of Indian Springs opened the area for settlement, and some farmers arrived to the area. Aaron Cloud purchased the mountain and built a restaurant and observation tower at the summit to attract visitors. In 1839, a village was established at the base of the mountain and named New Gibraltar. The Georgia Legislature changed the name in 1847 to Stone Mountain. Soon, the railroad was built, connecting Stone Mountain with nearby Atlanta.
In 1887, the Venable brothers purchased Stone Mountain for $48,000. When they were approached by the Daughters of the Confederacy to create a Civil War memorial for Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis, and Robert E. Lee, they deeded the north face of the mountain to them, giving them 12 years to complete the 1.57-acre sculpture. Construction was delayed due to WWI, and later by the Great Depression, and a third time by WWII. Although the mural was started in 1916, it wasn't completed until 1972. Gutzon Borglum, the same artist who later did Mount Rushmore, began the carving and abandoned the project in 1925.
In addition to the sculpture, Stone Mountain Park features a quarry exhibit, the Confederate Hall Historical & Environmental Education Center, and a 732-bell carillon. The Discovering Stone Mountain Museum includes Civil War exhibits as well as historical exhibits that explore nearly 12,000 years of the area's history. The ART Station, located in the Old Trolley Station in downtown includes art galleries, a theater, classes, crafts, and special events.
The Stone Mountain Village Visitor Center is a definite must-visit. Located in the historic village, this is a Seaboard Railroad Wood Center-Cupola Caboose dating back to 1914. The caboose was used during the filming of the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes. You can purchase tickets to Stone Mountain Park there, or just enjoy the unique red caboose.
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