Friday, September 7, 2007

Isn't It Ironic

I recently read a book about the carving of the memorial on Stone Mountain by David B. Freeman called Carved In Stone: The History of Stone Mountain. Despite one of the worst editing jobs I've ever seen, it was a really interesting book about the 'discovery' of Stone Mountain and then the decades long struggle/debate about the Confederate Memorial on the mountain. However, I couldn't help but be struck by the irony in it. It seems like there has always been controversy on how the mountain and the land around it should be used. But here are a couple of comments that really struck me (see previous post about another book to get an idea on what I think of the way the park has gone).

During a debate in the 1920s on which sculptor should be given the task of finishing the carving, the members of the association tried to get Gutzon Borglum dismissed stating that he "allegedly tried to organize a stock company to operate road houses, drink stands, and other money-making schemes which "would have converted the whole mountain and its environs into a carnival of cheap amusements."" (Check out the park's current website to see how that eventually turned out.--Stone Mountain Park)

Then the Association got upset about another guy, R. J. Spiller who wanted to lease the top of the mountain. They were concerned "that Spiller would build "a regular hunky dunky which will be an ever-lasting-disgrace to the Stone Mountain memorial."" Again, see my previous post for my feelings on said memorial, as well as the link to the park for how we honor this memorial. Can you say lasers?

And one of my favorite parts. In 1928, the Association was (once again) totally without funds to complete the project. George F. Willis, president of the Association, proposed charging money to view the carving to raise the funds to complete it. Sam Venable (one of the originators of the original idea) "strongly objected. He always maintained that the public should not have to pay to see a memorial."

Even after saying all of this, it really is a great park. I just wish it had been left as a natural area instead of having been slowly transformed into the second most visited theme park in the country behind Disneyworld (according to the book).