Friday, January 29, 2010
Once incorrectly billed as the largest granite monolith in the world, the mountain definitely looks like it should hold that title. The sight of the huge granite dome rising above the trees as you approach is unforgettable. There is a reason the old phrase "as solid as Stone Mountain" has such meaning in the South. The mountain has given up its rock for many of the finest courthouses, capitols and monuments in the South.
Stone Mountain has also witnessed a remarkable amount of history. Ancient Native Americans erected unusual stone walls on its crest that are thought by archaeologists to have served ceremonial functions. The walls are gone now, but are interpreted by displays atop the mountain. The mountain was one of the few major Georgia landmarks that Sherman couldn't destroy. One column of the Union general's army camped within site of Stone Mountain during the March to the Sea. With the smoke and flames rising from Atlanta dominating the western horizon, numerous soldiers paused from their work of burning, foraging and generally "making Georgia howl" to admire the beautiful mountain.
To learn more about the history of Stone Mountain and the beautiful park that now surrounds it, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/stonemountain.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
For 50 years, streetcars provided transportation for the people of Fort Smith. The first three cars were mule drawn, but by 1890 they were replaced with electric streetcars. Initially platform cars that could make for a chilly ride during the winter, they initially were refined to become quite outstanding ways to travel.
The streetcars, often duplicated in style by modern trolleys seen in many cities, were powered by electricity and rolled along rails that once spread out into a web of more than 30 miles in and around downtown Fort Smith. They gave way to modern buses, however, and for nearly 60 years vanished from the landscape of the city.
Thanks to the hard work and efforts of volunteers and supporting individuals and businesses, however, a historic streetcar line has been brought back to life in Fort Smith. The beautiful old cars roll again along 1.5 miles of track in the historic frontier city.
To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/ARFSTrolley.
Monday, January 18, 2010
The church originated in the earliest days of the American settlement of Florida. It began as a mission of the South Carolina Methodist Conference and is known to have been active as early as 1823, just two years after the cession of Florida from Spain to the United States.
The early years of the church were turbulent as is demonstrated by the fact that the congregation met in a fort or blockhouse that stood just a few hundred yards from the structure that stands today. This log fort slowly deteriorated and the members of the church voted to build a new frame sanctuary that was completed in 1857.
Local tradition holds that the church was only the second structure in Washington County, which then included an empty expanse where today's popular resort of Panama City Beach now stands, to have glass windows.
Moss Hill Church played a key role in the War Between the States and stones in the nearby cemetery preserve the memory of a number of its members who were taken prisoner while serving with the local home guard. Carried away to Northern prison camps, they died there far away from home and never returned.
To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/mosshill1.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Hundreds of outlaws converged on the Nations, convinced they would be safe there from apprehension by law enforcement officers. They preyed on the innocent citizens of the Nations with impunity, also striking across the borders of Arkansas, Texas, Kansas and Missouri to rob, rape, murder and pillage.
To bring law and order to the region, a former militia officer and Congressman from Missouri was named the U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Arkansas. His name was Isaac C. Parker and he became remembered in Western lore and legend as the "Hanging Judge" of Fort Smith.
Parker recruited a brave and daring team of deputy U.S. marshals who rode far and way through the frontier region to bring justice to the unfortunate people preyed upon by the outlaw gangs. These lawmen were memorialized on the big screen in such films as "True Grit" and "Rooster Cogburn" starring John Wayne and "Hang Em High" starring Clint Eastwood. The Hanging Judge was a key figure in all three of those films, as well as in many others.
The legend of Judge Isaac Parker remains very much alive in the charming and historic city of Fort Smith today. His gallows have been reconstructed and numerous artifacts from the judge's battles against such outlaws as the Dalton gang, the Rufus Buck gang, Cherokee Bill and even Belle Starr can be seen today at Fort Smith National Historic Site. To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/ARFS6.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Sitting next to the wreck of the Jackson is a section of the stern of the C.S.S. Chattahoochee, the last surviving Confederate wooden warship. The rest of the ship still rests covered with mud on the bottom of the Chattahoochee River, for which it was named, but the stern section was raised at the same time as the hull of the Jackson and is now on exhibit in the museum.
If you would like to learn more about the career and horrible explosion aboard the Chattahoochee, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/csschattahoochee. You can learn more about the museum at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/navymuseum.