Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Stone Mountain

Last week I posted about Gutzon Borglum’s Mount Rushmore monument to the first 150 years of United States history. But Mount Rushmore was not Borglum’s first attempt at a major mountainside monument. In 1915, Borglum agreed to carve a memorial on the face of Stone Mountain near Atlanta, Georgia.
The completed Confederate Memorial Carving at Stone Mountain, Georgia shows Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, all on horseback. The carving is about the size of 3 football fields. It took 56 years and 3 sculptors to complete. None of what you see today was Gutzon Borglum’s work.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy’s original plan for the mountain was a twenty-foot carving of General Lee. Borglum agreed to complete the carving, but convinced them that a 20 sculpture was much too small for a mountain that size. He suggested a carving like the one on the mountain today. In my opinion, it’s still a little small on that huge mountain.
Borglum ran into a problem when it was time to begin work: How would he sketch his idea onto the mountain? He thought about this problem for a long time before developing a sort of overhead projector that could enlarge his sketch and project it onto the mountain. This projector was much larger than the ones teachers use in the classroom but worked in a similar way.

Gutzon Borglum prepared the mountain for carving begin in 1916. In 1923, real work began on the sculpture. Borglum and the United Daughters of the Confederacy did not get along and he finished carving only General Lee into the mountain when he left the Georgia.

Augustus Lukeman took over the project. His design was slightly different but still included General Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and General Jackson. In 1928, Lukeman blasted Borglum’s carving of General Lee from the mountain with dynamite. Unfortunately for Lukeman, Gutzon Borglum still had some friends working on Stone Mountain who did not want to see Borglum’s work destroyed. Lukeman did not last much longer.

No more work was done on the mountain until 1963 when Walter Hancock took over as sculptor. He decided to keep most of Lukeman’s design and workers cleaned the mildew from the mountain before continuing the carving. The sculpture was finished in 1970 but was not declared a completed piece of art until 1972.

I did not visit Stone Mountain on my road trip this summer, but I have been there. When I was in high school I took a trip to Atlanta, Georgia. In the evenings people sit on grass, listen to music, and watch the laser light show that is projected onto the mountain.

Return to main page.

1 comment:

Peter said...

Have been absent from blogging for some two or three weeks. Happy to see that you are also back! I was worried to see nothing from you during a couple of weeks - before I left.