Carving History

Like the mountain itself, the carving at Stone Mountain has a long and complex history.

Three carving superintendents, numerous sculptors, plenty of controversy, and over half a century passed between conception and completion.

The idea of a confederate memorial carving originated with William H Terrell and John Temple Graves in 1913 and was supported by Helen Plane of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1914. Models were created as early as 1917, but World War I delayed the project.

The first carving superintendent was Gutzon Borglum, who had carved many impressive works. He began work in 1923. After delays and other problems, Borglum left the project in 1925.

The second carving superintendent, Augustus Lukeman, took over in 1925. But rather than complete Borglum's work, he created a completely new design. But funding ran out in 1928, and work on the carving was suspended for what turned out to be a very long time.

Work was finally resumed in 1963 under the direction of Walker Hancock. Hancock retained Lukeman's design but made many improvements.

The carving was dedicated in 1970 and declared complete in 1972.

Gutzon Borglum receives a ceremonial drill bit from Virginia Governor E. Lee Trinkle, June 18, 1923

Gutzon Borglum's carving of General Lee's head

Augustus Lukeman (at center) shortly after taking over the carving in 1925

Lukeman's carving beneath Borglum's unfinished carving work

Howard Williams

Visible on the right is the 400-foot high elevator added in 1964

At the top are the partially-removed heads from Gutzon Borglum's work

Mary Payne, Tom Elliott, William Kenny, Roy Faulkner, Ben Fortson, Tommy Irwin, Lane Mitchell, and Arthur Bolton