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<i>Behind the Lens</i>: Georgia’s Most Visited Tourist Attraction Is Also Its Most Controversial

Photos and musings from our photographer.

Stone Mountain Park
(David Kidd)
Stone Mountain Park is the most visited tourist attraction in Georgia, and its most controversial. The centerpiece of the park is the world’s largest bas-relief sculpture, depicting Confederate President Jefferson Davis, along with Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, hats over hearts, heroically astride their horses. Work began in 1916, but problems with financing, technical troubles and disputes with sculptors stalled the project several times in the ensuing decades. The state purchased the mountain in 1958; the sculpture wasn’t completed until 1972.

In recent years, cities and towns across America have debated what to do with their monuments to the Confederacy. 

Disputes about the fate of Stone Mountain’s Confederate Memorial Carving even made their way into the race for Georgia governor last year. Proposals include leaving it alone, adding more figures or blasting it off the face of the mountain. It wouldn’t be the first time the artwork was erased. Gutzon Borglum, the original sculptor and a member of the Klan, was fired in 1925. His unfinished Gen. Lee was blasted away and work began anew. Borglum went on to his next project, Mount Rushmore.

David Kidd is a photojournalist and storyteller for Governing. He can be reached at dkidd@governing.com.
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