"See Rock City"
Does that phrase above look familiar to you? It would if you grew up in the South as I did! Rock City is in Georgia and has been a tourist destination since 1932 and was developed by Garnet Carter and his wife, Frieda. Giant rock formations are on the very top of Lookout Mountain and the park was built to showcase the natural beauty. (It is only 6 miles from Chattanooga, Tennessee and as the park is on the Georgia side of Lookout Mountain, I can claim it for Georgia!) Since advertising was a bit difficult in those days, Mr. Carter asked a young sign painter by the name of Clark Byers to travel the highways and offer to paint a farmer's barn and in exchange the farmer would agree to having the barn's roof painted with these three words: SEE ROCK CITY.
Now, I only knew that I had seen them growing up in Georgia but reading about it, I have learned that they were painted as far north as Michigan and as far west as Texas! He painted over 900 roofs in 19 states from 1935 to 1969.
The signs were a great success and people flocked to Rock City!
Where did Mr. Carter get the money to develop this park? You would never guess! In 1927, he was the first to patent a game that he called "Tom Thumb Golf", he is considered to be one of the fathers of miniature golf! He sold the rights to the patent and used this to fund the Rock City Gardens.
Originally, there was to be a residential neighborhood on the top of Lookout Mountain and because his wife Frieda was from Germany, she wished for it to be called "Fairyland". Luckily, the development for houses fell through but the idea of Fairyland was not! Frieda decided to develop it into a rock garden. She took a string and carefully laid out a trail around the giant rock formations, ending at the giant outcropping known as Lover's Leap.
She planted wildflowers and other plants along the trail. Frieda imported statues of gnomes and fairytale characters from Germany and positioned them inside a tunnel in one of the giant rocks. How much I loved this! Fairyland Caverns, I think it was called and along with Mother Goose Village, it is one of my favorite memories of my childhood, seeing these fairy tale figures! It seems that I remember Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs and that the dwarfs were on a little bridge. (Just looked it up, and I remember it correctly!) "Rainbow Hall" was another area I liked, looking through colored gels apparently, I didn't know what it was as a kid, for me it was magic!
Now, the trail itself...my love of walking among rock and flowers must have started at a very young age at Rock City. (There are 400 native plant species on the trail...thank you Frieda Carter!) I well remember the Fat Man's Squeeze (like the name implies, a stretch where the rocky mountain sides are close together and you have to squeeze through!) Also, that there were two bridges across a very deep gorge...one was a beautiful sturdy stone bridge and the other one was a ...wait for it, a swinging bridge, that was very scary to me! The views from the top were amazing...and you could see why it was called Lookout Mountain!
I wish I could proclaim from the rooftops...see nature and enjoy it wherever you are!