Facebook Page

The Stone Mountain Railroad 8/24/2007

by Chris Guenzler

Chris Parker and I drove from the Southeastern Railroad Museum in Duluth via the Interstates 85 and 285 to US 78 to Exit 39B. We followed the road to the Park Gate and they were expecting us. We followed the directions that Katie Seuberling, Public Relations Coordinator of Stone Mountain Park, had sent me to the Crossroads area of the park. The first thing you notice as you drive through the park is the beauty of the forests and the lakes within the park. Stone Mountain then came into view. Stone Mountain was formed over 300 million years ago by an underground molten eruption. This molten material then cooled very slowly creating the granite crystals over the next 100 million years. Over the last 200 million years about two miles of the earth surface around it eroded to the present level that allows us to see Stone Mountain today. Stone Mountain is the world's largest exposed granite mass. Stone Mountain rises 825 feet above the surrounding landscape and covers about 583 acres. Granite quarried from Stone Mountain has been used throughout the world including the locks of the Panama Canal, the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C, and the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan.

Stone Mountain is the State of Georgia's most popular attraction as well as one of the top attractions in the United States. Stone Mountain is the world's largest piece of freestanding exposed granite. The Confederate Memorial Carving is the world's largest relief sculpture. The world's largest Lasershow Spectacular takes place in this unique park. The park contains over 3,200 acres of park, lakes and forests. Stone Mountain Park has many activities for the public to enjoy. They include the 1870s Town of Crossroads, Camp Highland Outpost, Treehouse Challenge, The Tales of the South - Georgia's First 4D Theater, The Great Barn, Scenic Railroad and Live Show, The Discovering Stone Mountain Museum and Memorial Hall, Summit Skyride, Antebellum Plantation & Farmyard, Pedal Boats, Mini-Golf, Antique Car and Treasure Museum, Waterslide Complex plus Ride the Ducks Sightseeing Adventure and more. We pulled into the parking lot and I saw a smiling young lady waiting out in front. I walked up and meet Katie who would give us a tour of the park. She gave me a press kit and we soon were in Katie's car driving the one way road around Stone Mountain. She gave us the history of the park, sculpture and general information as we drove to the Stone Mountain Railroad Shop. We parked and walked through a gate into a Wild West Scene and the shops were off to the right.

Stone Mountain Railroad 4-4-0 104 The General.

Another view of the 104.

Inside the shop was F7A 6147.

Track equipment at the shops.

I walked over for a picture of the Stone Mountain Railroad 4-4-0 60 the Texas. Katie suggested that we wait for the next run of the train to pass our location so we all sat down on the porch in the shade on another extremely hot and humid southern day.

The Wild West where they put on shows for passengers.

Katie our excellent tour guide at Stone Mountain Park. We continued to talk as we waited for the train to show up.

The Stone Mountain Railroad Train passed through the Shop and Wild West area. We returned to the car and started back to the station. I saw two more engines so Katie pulled off the highway and hiked up to their location.

Stone Mountain Railroad F7A 6143.

Stone Mountain Railroad GP-9. I returned to the car and Katie drove us back to the Crossroads pointing out park highlights on the way back. Katie led us to the Train Station where Chris got water and I got a bottle of Coca-Cola to drink on the train. We said our goodbyes to Katie thanking her for all see did for us here. We boarded the last car after we stopped for the next picture.

Stone Mountain Steam Engine 4-6-2 110 was on display at the train station.

The Station area at Stone Mountain.

Next to our boarding location is the Great Locomotive Chase Miniature Golf.

We passed first the Confederate Memorial Carving.

Two more views of this unique memorial to the leaders of the South during the Civil War or known as the War Between the States.

A view of these open air cars used for viewing. Narration is given and songs are played as you travel around Stone Mountain on the Stone Mountain Railroad.

Running through the forest in this beautiful park.

A view towards the summit of Stone Mountain.

Passengers cars not used for today's trip.

The Stone Mountain Railroad GP-9 waiting for us to pass by.

Stone Mountain Railroad F7A 6143.

Passing through the Wild West.

Our train taking another curve.

A spot where some granite had been removed.

Passing through the forest and along the granite slopes of Stone Mountain.

Most impressive!

The views are unique within Stone Mountain Park from the train.

The train took another of the curves around Stone Mountain.

The view towards the summit of Stone Mountain. This is the side of Stone Mountain with the hiking trail to the Summit.

We pulled into the Confederate Hall Station and picked up some hikers who had taken the Summit Skyride to the top of Stone Mountain then hiked down to here to board the train. The train passed through the forest on its return to the Crossroads Station where our trip around Stone Mountain ended.

The train at the Crossroads Station with the crew having a good time showing off.

I walked over to the Confederate Memorial Carving Viewing Area and took one last look at the Stone Mountain Railroad Train.

The stone carvings include Civil War Figures, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. In 1915 Gutzon Borglum drew up his first sketches of his vision for the carving. In 1915, Borglum said it would take a decade to finish and quoted a price tag of 3 million dollars. In 1916 Samuel H. Venable leased the north face of Stone Mountain from the United Daughters of the Confederacy on the condition that it must be finished in 12 years. In 1923 Carving began but two years after many disagreements with the UDC members, Borglum was removed from this project, destroys his models and sketches then heads to South Dakota to be remembered forever for being the creator of Mount Rushmore. In 1925 work began under the direction of Augustus Lukeman who chiseled away all of Borglum's previous work. By 1928 only General Lee's head had been completed so the Venable family retakes the property as the carving was not finished in the 12 year period. In 1958 Georgia purchased Stone Mountain and the surrounding 3,200 acres creating the park we know as of today. In 1964 now under the directions of Walker Hancock carving resumes. Roy Faulkner, the work crew foreman, experiments with a new carving tool called a thermo-jet torch. Faulkner who had no previous art experience but developed a knack for carving then completed the carving in six years. On May 9th, 1970 the Confederate Memorial Carving was dedicated. For Chris Parker and I, it was now time to leave this fantastic Stone Mountain Park. A special thank you to Katie for all her help with planning our visit and for being an excellent tour guide. We fought our way through the Atlanta traffic nightmare to Kennesaw, Georgia and our next stop on this adventure.