The 20th Century Veterans Memorial was dedicated on Oct. 12, 2002. The Memorial was made possible by the efforts of the Veterans Memorial Association of Smyrna.
Atlanta, GA 30312
54 Columns is a collection of 54 columns ranging from 10 to 20 feet tall. It was created in 1999 by Sol LeWitt, a minimalist artist. Known to some as Ghetto Stonehenge, the columns are supposed to resemble the Atlanta skyline. The art project was commissioned by the Fulton County Arts Council. In 2007, the Atlanta City Council designated the 210-acre Freedom Park, which is home to 54 Columns, as an Atlanta Public Art Project. LeWitt’s works can be seen in a number of museums nationwide, including the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. The Connecticut-born LeWitt died in 2007 at the age of 78.
Adairsville, GA 30103
Just south of Adairsville, the raiders stopped to tear up the track, prohibiting their pursuers from continuing the chase in a locomotive. At this point, the pursuers abandoned their second locomotive — the William R. Smith — and continued on foot. Minutes later, they commandeered their third engine. They ran the Texas in reverse for the remainder of the chase. Today, a small museum located in the historic 1847 Western & Atlantic depot interprets the city’s role in the Great Locomotive Chase and features a number of exhibits related to the town’s history.
The 30-acre garden is home to a number of exhibits, including an edible garden, a rose garden and rare orchid display. In 2010, the Atlanta Botanical Garden opened the Canopy Walk, a 600-foot-long walkway that towers 40 feet above the ground and gives visitors a chance to view a woodland garden from above.
Located in the heart of Atlanta’s trendy Buckhead community, the Atlanta History Center was founded in 1926. The museum, which sits on a 33-acre campus, features six permanent exhibits and temporary exhibits. In addition to the main exhibits, the museum is also home to the historic Swan House, Tullie Smith Farm and Wood Family Cabin. The museum is home to one of the largest collections of Civil War artifacts in the United States.
The Atlanta Monetary Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in Midtown provides an interesting look into the history of currency. The museum’s collection includes a nice range of historic bills and coins. That includes $100,000 bills with President Woodrow Wilson and $10,000 bills with O’Hagel printed on them. It also has on display a rare set of coins from the former U.S. Mint in Dahlonega, Ga.
The building that today serves as the Smyrna Welcome Center was once a famous restaurant serving up Southern-themed fare. Isoline Campbell MacKenna opened Aunt Fanny’s Cabin in 1941, turning an 1890s-era cabin into a country store selling food made using the recipes of Fanny Williams, her family’s retired cook. The restaurant, originally located a few miles away from its current location operated until 1994.
Marietta, GA 30062
The Big Chicken, located along Cobb Parkway in southern Marietta, is a true Atlanta landmark. Motorists reference the 56-foot-tall big chicken when giving directions. Radio stations mention it when describing traffic. Airplane pilots even use it as a landmark for navigation. Today, the Big Chicken is a bit of an anomaly, something unique at a fast food restaurant. Cobb Parkway is a string of urban sprawl, one fast food joint after another. Originally built as more or less a marketing gimmick, the chicken has been embraced by locals and has remained a landmark for more than 45 years. After it was damaged by a storm in 1993, KFC debated whether to rebuild the Big Chicken. The community seemed to be in agreement: The Big Chicken was a local landmark, and it needed to remain; KFC shelled out $700,000 to rehabilitate the restaurant and return the giant bird to working order. Today’s incarnation of this local icon features a moving beak and rotating eyes.
Opened in 1965, the Clermont Lounge has the distinction as the first and longest continually operating strip club in Atlanta. The establishment is located in the basement of what was once the Clermont Motor Hotel. As Wikipedia notes: “The Clermont is perhaps best known for featuring some dancers who do not meet the traditional physical standards for strippers, the most famous of whom is Blondie, noted for her ability to crush empty beer cans between her breasts as well as for her poetry.”
The College Football Hall of Fame opened in Atlanta in August 2014 in Downtown Atlanta next to the Georgia World Congress Center and Centennial Olympic Park. The College Football Hall of Fame was previously located in South Bend, Ind. More than 975 players and more than 210 coaches have been enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame. More than 300 schools are represented. The 94,256-square-foot facility includes exhibits, interactive displays, event space and a 45-yard indoor football field.
Concord Woolen Mills dates to 1847 when Robert Daniell and Martin Ruff opened the mill. The mill was destroyed on July 4, 1864, by Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s troops. The two men rebuilt the mill, which reopened in 1868. By 1870, the mill had 16 workers, making it the largest employer in the area. The two men sold the mill in 1872. The mill went out of business in 1916, and the ruins are located along what is today the Heritage Park Trail and Silver Comet Trail.
Along Interstate 75 sits a definite oddity: a Titan missile. The missile, acquired from the Air Force in 1968 after it was declared obsolete, was flown from California to Warner Robins Air Base where it was stored for some time before it was given to the community. Titan I missiles were used between 1959 and 1965 and is considered the country’s first In-tercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). The missile in Cordele stands on what has been dubbed Confederate Air Force Pad No. I.
Cooper’s Iron Works is the last remaining remnant of the 19th century town of Etowah. Jacob Stroup established the works in the 1830s, and Mark Anthony Cooper purchased the ironworks in the 1840s. In 1863, cooper sold the iron works to the Confederate States of America in 1863, and federal soldiers on May 22, 1864, destroyed the ironworks and mill, bringing about an end to the city’s livelihood. Following the Civil War, the town never again returned to its antebellum prominence. A smokestack is all that remains of the ironworks.
On March 30, 1842, Crawford W. Long stepped into the history books when he used Ether as a surgical anesthesia. His legacy lives on at the museum that bears his name. The Crawford W. Long Museum in the Jackson County city of Jefferson, about 25 miles from Athens, opened in 1957.
The Crime and Punishment Museum in Ashbury, Ga., opened in August 2003 in a bucolic community of about 4,100 located along Interstate 75. The building — known to many as “Castle Turner” — served as the county jail from about 1907 until 1993. Miles Cribb was the only inmate hanged inside the jail. Today, visitors to the museum can see the trap door that dropped, sending the condemned Cribb to his death. They can also gaze upon the blood-stained collar he was wearing at the time he was executed and see a replica of an electric chair, affectionately nicknamed “Old Sparky.”
Dahlonega, GA 30533
The 1836 Lumpkin County Courthouse in downtown Dahlonega, Ga., is home to the Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site. Located on the town square, the courthouse is the oldest surviving courthouse building in the state, serving in that capacity until 1965. The state park is a testament to the first major gold rush in the nation. The museum collection includes exhibits about how gold is mined, tools miners used and actual samples of gold. The building features wooden seats from 1889 and the judge’s chambers.
The Double-Barreled Cannon was the brainchild of Dr. John Gilleland, a dentist from Jackson County, Ga., and a member of Mitchell’s Thunderbolts. Built in 1862 at the Athens Foundry and Machine Works, the Double-Barreled Cannon is today little more than a bookmark in history and a rather unique relic. The cannon was designed to fire two cannonballs connected by a chain so as to “mow down the enemy somewhat as a scythe cuts wheat.” According one account, the cannon was tested on a site along Newton Bridge Road, but since the two barrels did not have the same range, the chain broke in mid-air. According to some sources, one of the cannon balls killed a cow in a field nearby. According to a number of sources, including books and newspaper accounts, the cannon was not used in battle. But, according to a Confederate Veteran article, the cannon was used during a skirmish, but not as originally designed.
The Elberton Granite Museum in Elberton, Ga., opened in 1981. The free museum is dedicated to telling the story of how granite is produced and its impact on Elberton, Ga., is on display. The many exhibits at the museum include artifacts, photographs and whimsical anecdotes. While the tools of the trade show how granite is carved from the earth, a seven-foot-tall granite statue tucked away in a backroom of the museum illustrates a lighter side of the granite industry and how people view the monuments produced.
Cartersville, GA 30120
Located on the north shore of the Etowah River and south of modern-day Cartersville, the mounds were inhabited from 1000 to 1550 by Muskogean Native Americans of the Mississippian culture, so named because the culture originated along the banks of the Mississippi River. Designated a National Historic Landmark in the 1960s, this 54-acre state park includes a museum with artifacts discovered at the site, six mounds the natives built, and a number of other related sites. The now 1,000-year-old Native American town is generally believed to be a city Hernando de Soto visited in 1540 when he was exploring the area. By that time, according to historians, the civilization was in decline and the Etowah Indian Mounds may have been abandoned.
Darien, GA 31305
Built in 1721, a dozen years before the first city in Georgia, Savannah, was founded, Fort King George was both the first English settlement on Georgia’s coast and the British Empire’s southernmost outpost in North America. It remained the southernmost settlement until 1736 when Fort Frederica was built on what is today St. Simon’s Island. With the help of historic drawings, the Lower Altamaha Historical Society and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources in 1988, a number of the fort’s structures were rebuilt, including the cypress blockhouse. The reconstructed fort is a replica of Barnwell’s original construction. Today, the park highlights the area’s 18th century cultural history, including the Guale Indians, the 17th century Spanish mission Santo Domingo de Talaje, Fort King George and the Scottish colonists. In addition, the state park features information about 19th century sawmilling.
When Mark Anthony Cooper found himself $100,000 in debt in 1857 and his company, the Etowah Iron and Manufacturing Co., was about to be auctioned, he turned to his friends for help. With the help of 38 friends, Cooper raised $200,000 and purchased back his company. But, he didn’t forget his friends, and in 1860, after he repaid the debt, Cooper built a monument to thank them. The monument was originally erected on the town square of Etowah where his iron company was located. In 1864, the monument survived the wrath of Union soldiers led by Gen. William T. Sherman. In 1927, as the federal government was poised to create Lake Allatoona, the monument was relocated to nearby Cartersville. Three decades later, the monument was moved to the banks of Lake Allatoona to make room for more parking spaces in downtown Cartersville. In 1999, the monument moved to its current location in downtown Cartersville and the aptly renamed Friendship Plaza.
The Georgia Capitol Museum traces its origins to 1889 when the Georgia General Assembly revived the office of state geologist and directed him “to collect, analyze, and classify specimens of minerals, plants and soils.” The following year, the governor designated the corridors of the fourth floor of the Capitol as temporary quarters to house the museum.
Since first unveiled in March 1980, the Georgia Guidestones have confounded and intrigued tourists. An anonymous benefactor, using the name R.C. Christian, showed up in Elbert County in 1979 to build the monument. According to sources, Christian was working on behalf of an anonymous group. The 19-foot-tall monument, comprised of six granite stones, sits along Georgia Highway 77 on one of the highest tracts of land in Elbert County. The monument, known as “America’s Stonehenge,” was built using granite from Elbertson, the “Granite Capital of the World.”
Along a busy stretch of Windy Hill Road lies a 19th century cemetery, the last vestages of the antebellum residence of Asbury Hargrove. Roughly 20 people are buried in the cemetery. Hargrove was born in 1809 and died in 1879. Between July 6-15, 1864, Brig. Gen. Edward M. McCook used the residence as his headquarters.
Atlanta, GA 30309
The High Museum of Art, the premier art museum in the South, is in the midst of a multi-year partnership with The Museum of Modern Art. Through 2013, the partnership will bring many international exhibitions to Atlanta and past exhibitions have included masterpieces by Claude Monet and Leonardo de Vinci.
Atlanta, GA 30303
Ted Turner co-founded CNN in 1980 and helped transform the way people consume news. The outspoken Turner, who at one time owned the Atlanta Braves, still finds ways to make headlines even though he’s been out of the news business for years. For those interested in how modern newsrooms operate, the 55-minute Inside CNN Atlanta Studio Tour gives a behind the scenes look at what goes in to the making of a newscast watched by 2 billion people globally.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park offers the opportunity to connect with an important time in American history and a free outdoor experience. Located between Marietta and Kennesaw, the 2,923-acre national park offers visitors the chance to learn about an important time in history and also enjoy the great outdoors. The national park features 18 miles of walking trails, some rather steep as they approach the top of the mountain. The park features three battlefield areas: one located in front of the Visitor Center, another off Burnt Hickory Road and the main site at Cheatham Hill, which during the Civil War was called the Dead Angle. The visitor center is a logical place to start because it provides an abundance of information about what happened during the battle.
As the Civil War dragged on, wounded soldiers from the battles that ravaged North Georgia were taken to Marietta to be buried. That continued until Gen. William T. Sherman took control of the city on July 2, 1864. Following the war, Henry Greene Cole, a Marietta businessman and Unionist, offered land to build a cemetery for both Union and Confederate soldiers, but many city residents wouldn’t entertain the proposal of burying battlefield enemies in the same graveyard. So, in 1867, Jane Glover officially gave the land to a memorial association to create the cemetery for Confederate soldiers. Union troops who were killed throughout North Georgia were re-buried in the nearby Marietta National Cemetery. In addition to the more than 3,000 grave sites, the cemetery is home to a number of monuments, including a six-pound cannon that Union troops captured near Savannah. The cannon resided at the Georgia Military Institute for a number of years.
The story of fighting fires in Marietta, Ga., from bucket brigades to pumper and ladder trucks, is on display at the Marietta Fire Museum. One of the highlights of the museum is an 1879 horse-drawn Silsby steamer, which is nicknamed “Aurora.” The unit is said to be one of only five of its kind still in existence. The horse-drawn steamer remained in service until 1921 when it was replaced by an American LaFrance Pumper, also on display in the museum. The pumper is famous for being one of the first motorized fire vehicles in North Georgia. Also on display are a 1929 Seagrave pumper, a 1949 Pirsch ladder truck and a 1952 Chevrolet panel truck. In addition to the fire vehicles, a number of antique helmets, firefighting accessories and a “Wall of Flame” featuring photos of some of the city’s larger fires from over the years are on display.
Atlanta, GA 30331
The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site consists of several buildings and sites connected to King. They include his boyhood home, the original Ebenezer Baptist Church and Fire Station No. 6. The area includes a total of 35 acres and was designated as a National Historic Site on Oct. 10, 1980. The King Birth Home, located at 501 Auburn Avenue in the Sweet Auburn historic district, was built in 1895 and is located about a block east of Ebenezer Baptist Church. King was born here in 1929, and the King family lived in the house until 1941. Its was later converted into a two-family dwelling. The Rev. A.D. Williams King, the brother of King Jr., lived on the second floor in the 1950s and early 1960s. The visitor center offers free tours of the house led by National Park Service rangers. Fire Station No. 6 was built in 1894 and served the Sweet Auburn community until 1991. The fire station was an important community meeting place. A 1927 American LaFrance fire engine is on display at the museum.
Atlanta, GA 30312
Oakland Cemetery was founded in 1850. Among the famous people buried in the cemetery are Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind; Bobby Jones, one of the best golfers to ever play; and William A. Fuller, the conductor who successfully pursued Union spies during the Civil War’s Great Locomotive Chase.
The 189-acre Piedmont Park hosted the Piedmont Exposition of 1887 and the Cotton States and International Exposition of 1895. Much like Central Park is to New York City, Piedmont Park is a centerpiece greenspace for the city of Atlanta.
Confederate Brigadier Gen. Francis Shoup in 1864 built a series of earthen forts shaped like arrowheads large enough to hold 80 soldiers and allow them to fire shots to the right, left and straight ahead as the enemy approached. The design came to be known as “Shoupades.” The goal was to stop Union troops from crossing the Chattahoochee River and entering Atlanta. While most of the Shoupades were destroyed over the years, the city of Smyrna, through an agreement with a developer, helped preserve one of the works.
According to various sources, Smyrna Methodist Church founded the Smyrna Memorial Cemetery in 1838 near what is today the intersection of Memorial Place and Atlanta Road in the heart of the city. The 170-year-old cemetery lies in the shadows of Smyrna Market Village. The cemetery is home to a number of notable denizens of Smyrna over the years, including John Moore, who served the first mayor of Smyrna when the city was incorporated on Aug. 23, 1872. There are a total of 638 people buried in Smyrna Memorial Cemetery, but only about 238 graves are marked with headstones. The grave of Elijah Fleming, who died on April 8, 1848, is the earliest marked grave in the cemetery. The grave of his daughter, Mary, who died on March 14, 1858, at the age of 17, is the second oldest marked grave in the cemetery. A 1999 archaeological survey located 395 graves that were previously lost to history.
Smyrna, GA 30080
Since it officially opened on April 25, 1999, the Smyrna Museum has dedicated to keeping alive the stories that make the Jonquil City unique — from images of the city’s past to artifacts from important events in history.
Located in a replica of the city’s railroad depot that was build in 1910 and razed in 1959, the museum is home to thousands of photographs, a number of exhibits and other displays, the museum is also home to a number of genealogical research materials.
While admission is free, the museum, which is operated by volunteers, does accept donations.
The 35-acre Southeastern Railway Museum opened in its current location in 1998. The museum, which previously operated on a 12-acre site until 1997, is home to approximately 90 pieces of rolling stock, including locomotives, passenger cars and cabooses. Guests can board a vintage caboose for a ride around the museum’s grounds, which was previously home to a railcar repair facility. The museum has been designated “Georgia’s Official Transportation History Museum.”
A Smithsonian Institution affiliate, the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History features collections of rare Civil War weapons, uniforms and other personal items; an exciting exhibit about the Great Locomotive Chase, including the General locomotive; and a full-scale replica of a locomotive factory that helped rebuild the South after the war. The Jolley Education Center features a variety of hands-on exhibits to inspire a love of learning in children. During the sesquicentennial, 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the Southern Museum will be hosting numerous events that will explore topics relevant to this tumultuous time in history.
Located in downtown McRae, Ga., is a replica of the Statue of Liberty. The 35-foot-tall McRae version was built by the Lion’s Club of McRae at one-twelfth the size of the original. The statue was built using various materials, including Styrofoam, an electrician lineman’s glove and a stump from a nearby swamp. The Lady Liberty doppelgänger is located in Liberty Square, which is also home to a marble memorial honoring Telfair County residents who died in military service and a replica of the Liberty Bell, which is apparently the the town’s old fire bell was taken down (with a crack in it, of course).
Stone Mountain, GA 30083
Make the 1.3 mile trek or ride the sky lift up Stone Mountain. With more than 3,300 acres of natural beauty, a variety of outdoor attractions, entertainment and recreation, Stone Mountain is the most visited attraction in Georgia. Visitors can now climb to new heights on Sky Hike, a quarter of a mile course that allows visitors to trek through the treetops by mastering wooden bridges, balancing on a single rope suspended in the air and climbing to the top of vertical net bridges.
Trahlyta was a Cherokee who lived in the North Georgia Mountains near what is today Dahlonega. According to legend, she drank from a nearby Fountain of Youth to maintain her renowned beauty. A warrior named Wahsega courted her, bus she rejected him. Upset by this, Wahsega kidnapped and imprisoned Trahlyta. Longing to see her home again, Trahlyta eventually died. Her last wish was to be buried in the mountain forests near her home. Today. a five-foot-tall pile of stones marks her grave. According to the historical marker at the site of her supposed grave, “custom arose among the Indians and later the Whites to drop stones, one for each passerby, on her grave for good fortune.” Highway department workers apparently twice tried to move the pile of rocks as part of road projects. But, both times at least one person was killed in the process.
Athens, Ga., was once home to Navy Corps Supply School, which was located in the city’s Normaltown neighborhood from Jan. 15, 1954, until 2011. In 1990, as a tribute to the school, the Athens community placed a 4,000 pound, haze gray anchor in the median of Broad Street. The anchor for a destroyer ship was apparently donated because its bent shaft left it unusable for naval purposes.
The Dillard House is perhaps best-known for its seemingly endless southern cuisine and hospitality. Formerly a boarding house, the restaurant touts itself as one of the original farm-to-table restaurants in Georgia. The Dillard House continues to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner family-style daily. Its cuisine is adapted from recipes handed down from Dillard family members and chefs. Family owned and operated, The Dillard House offers 90 hotel rooms, four cottages and 20 rental cabins at Chalet Village.
Atlanta, GA 30313
The largest aquarium in the world is home to tens of thousands of marine animals. More than 10 million visitors have passed through the aquarium since it opened in November 2005. Highlights include great hammerhead sharks, four beluga whales and four whale sharks, which call a 6.3 million gallon tank home. In 2011, the aquarium launched a daily Dolphin Tales show.
The Old Rock Gaol in downtown Greensboro was built about 1807 after the Superior Court of Greene County recommended a substantial jail be built. The jail, patterned after European bastilles, was built with using granite from a local quarry. With walls that are two feet thick, the jail has the distinction of being the oldest standing masonry jail in Georgia. The jail was used until 1895. Open by appointment, visitors can see where executions by hanging took place. Hangings were legal in Georgia from 1735 to 1924.
Located at the intersection of Finley and Dearing streets in Athens, Ga., The Tree that Owns Itself is an oak tree that has been willed to itself. As the story goes, in about 1890, UGA Professor William H. Jackson willed the oak tree and the land that surrounds it to the tree to protect it in perpetuity. While the original tree fell during a windstorm on Oct. 9, 1942, the oak that today stands at Finley and Dearing streets is actually an offspring of the original and is known as the Son of The Tree that Owns Itself. It was planted on Oct. 9, 1946, by the Junior Ladies Garden Club in the exact same spot.
Tunnel Hill, GA 30755
Crews building the Western & Atlantic Railroad from Atlanta to Chattanooga, Tenn., faced a number of natural obstacles. None, however, were as foreboding as Chetoogeta Mountain. What workers built was a 1,477-foot-long engineering phenomenon that has stood the test of time. Work on the tunnel started on July 15, 1848, and the first train rolled through the tunnel on May 9, 1850. The railroad actually started rail service between Atlanta and Chattanooga in the 1840s. The tunnel remained in service until 1928 when a new tunnel opened a few feet away to accommodate larger trains. For years, the older tunnel sat unused, and eventually fell into disrepair.
Ty Cobb has a tough legacy, to say the least. He is one of the greatest players to ever take the field. He holds the all-time career batting average record with a .366 average, and he was selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936 as part of the inaugural class. The Ty Cobb Museum in his hometown of Royston, Ga., puts Cobb in an interesting light. The museum helps tell the story of Cobb and how he helped shape his home town, an impact that is felt even today.
The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum chronicles the Jewish experience and the universal themes of diversity and human dignity. The museum, which opened in 1996, collects and preserves Jewish culture and history through permanent exhibitions like the Absence of Humanity: The Holocaust Years, 1933-1945. The exhibit was designed by local architect and Holocaust survivor Ben Hirsch. The Cuba Family Archives also houses the largest repository of Jewish archival material in the region.
Atlanta, GA 30313
Pharmacist John Pemberton invented Coca-Cola in 1886. The original World of Coca-Cola opened in Atlanta in 1991, but was upgraded in its current location near Centennial Olympic Park in May 2007. The 35,000-square-foot exhibition features the largest collection of Coke memorabilia, a 4-D theater and a bottling operation that produces eight ounce commemorative bottles for guests.
Turner County, nicknamed The Peanut Capital of the World, is home to a Golden Peanut Co. shelling plant and The World’s Largest Peanut. The 20-foot-tall monument, built atop a crown on a brick base, was made the official peanut monument of the state in 1998. The slogan painted on the side of the monument reads: Georgia 1st in Peanuts. The monument, located along Interstate 75, is dedicated to Nora Lawrence Smith, a member of Georgia Journalism Hall of Fame.
Atlanta, GA 30315
Zoo Atlanta was founded in 1889, when businessman George V. Gress purchased a bankrupt traveling circus and donated the animals to the city of Atlanta. City leaders opted to house the collection in Grant Park, where the zoo remains to this day. The zoo’s original animals included a black bear, a jaguar, a hyena, a gazelle, a Mexican hog, lionesses, monkeys and camels. Today, Zoo Atlanta features more than 40 exhibits that are home to 800 animals from 200 species. Highlights include a five-acre African Plains and The Asian Forest that is home to the zoo’s giant pandas.