The Hancock Era


Hancock works on model of carving

The 1960's were a time of rapid change at Stone Mountain. Within the decade, workmen transformed the park from wilderness into a landscaped, developed vacation spot for tourists of many persuasions. The newly-formed Stone Mountain Memorial Association oversaw completion of the carving and brought on consultants to help the state authority maximize its economic viability. The Park, under state control, had been transformed from a single- dimension Confederate Memorial into a multi-faceted family vacation experience.

Efforts by the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, with the authority of the Georgia Legislature, to purchase the land surrounding the mountain and the mountain itself proved successful and in 1960, the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Advisory Committee was formed to host an international competition to choose a sculptor for the Memorial. Nine renowned international sculptors presented plans for a new sculpture, and in 1963, the Association engaged Walker Kirtland Hancock as chief consultant to the Association and chief sculptor.

Preparations were made and work on the carving resumed in 1964 after 36 years of dormancy. With up-to-date technology and a full war chest, the carving was able to proceed at an alarming rate. Chief carver Roy Faulkner had mastered the thermo-jet torch and was able to remove tons of granite a day from the face of the mountain. The carving proceeded at such a rapid pace that it ceased in 1970, waiting only on a few finishing touches, which were completed by 1972.

At the same time that the carving was progressing, work was being done throughout the 3,200 acres that made up the Park. Laborers were building roads, digging lakes and ponds, landscaping, and constructing various attractions. Among the proposals included in the 1959 Master Plan that were never completed were a road to the top of the mountain and a bus station on the mountain. Projects that made their way from the Master Plan into the Park included an open-air amphitheater, a sky-lift from the base of the mountain to the top, golf courses, a Battlerama, an antique automobile museum, a large man-made lake with a Mississippi river boat, a railroad around the base of the mountain featuring an Indian raid, nature trails, a petting zoo, a motor hotel, campsites, a reconstructed plantation, and a re-routing of state highway 78 along the boundary of the Park. Such attractions were to draw visitors and provide the income for the Park that would make it a self-sustaining state authority.

The many attractions and improvements added during the 1960's transformed the Park into one that attracted a variety of guests. The Memorial Association added such improvements in an effort to bring revenues into the park that the carving could not bring. The 1959 Master Plan expresses the intentions of the Association: "The desire to pay homage to the Confederate leaders is still important, but it is now probably secondary to the economic motive."

Introduction of the Economic Motive

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