- Tyler Estep, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Regardless of their feelings about the content, most folks know a few basic things about Stone Mountain's Confederate memorial carving.
It shows three guys (Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis) on horseback, they might say. It's really big, they'll almost definitely say. It's where they have the laser show sometimes, they'll say, if nothing else.
But where did it come from? Why is it a thing? Who did it? And when?
Find below five things you likely didn't know about Stone Mountain's Confederate memorial carving — plus one juicy bonus nugget.
OK, so who pitched the idea? A woman named Helen Plane, a charter member of the Atlanta chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, is credited as being the first advocate of a substantial Confederate memorial on the mountain. Her husband, Capt. William F. Plane, was killed in the Battle of Antietam in 1862.
In 1914, she proposed hiring sculptor Gutzon Borglum to create the sculpture.
Wait, there's a Mount Rushmore connection? Borglum drew up plans in 1914, but it would be 1923 before he officially began carving. Borglum completed Robert E. Lee's head by 1924 — then, however, spouted off in the local newspapers about various complications with the project and had his contract cancelled.
He went on to create Mount Rushmore.
A sculptor named Augustus Lukeman took over in 1925.
Someone 'owned' the mountain? For real? Samuel H. Venable and his family ran quarrying operations on Stone Mountain after purchasing it for a cool $48,000 in 1887. They leased the mountain's face for the carving, but cancelled that agreement in May of 1928.
At that point, Lukeman had only managed to complete parts of Lee's and Davis' figures.
The carving really didn't start (the final time) until 1964? It's complicated, but the state of Georgia officially got control of Stone Mountain in 1958. Carving resumed six years later — nearly a century after the end of the Civil War.
The carving was dedicated in 1970 — with Vice President Spiro Agnew in attendance — but it would take two more years for the scaffolding and rigging to be removed.
Who finished the carving? A man named Roy Faulkner eventually took the reins as Stone Mountain's chief carver. Despite not having a lick of artistic training, he spent eight years, nine months and 15 days creating the world's largest bas-relief sculpture.
Faulkner, who most recently lived with his daughter in Snellville, died Sept. 23. Read more about him here.
And that bonus fact? The aforementioned (and infamous?) laser show started way back in 1983.