Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park lies just west of the city of Marietta, and a scant 2 miles from Marietta Square, the city's historic downtown district. Eight miles long and barely a mile wide, the park now encompasses much of the area involved in a series of engagements known as the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain and the Battle of Kolb's Farm.
Before the Civil War
Before 1755 this was Creek land. After they lost the Battle of Taliwa, the land was controlled by the Cherokee. In fact the peak is named for the chief of a large Cherokee village
in the area. These Indians were removed against their will during "The Trail of Tears." At the base of Kennesaw Mountain a "Dr. Cox" began to offer his "water cure" in
the mid-1840's. Patients would frequently follow an old road to the top of
the mountain. This historic road, which was improved by the Confederates
to move cannon to the top of Kennesaw Mountain, can be seen along the hiking
trail to the top of the peak.
Lay of the land
Rising 1000 feet above the relatively flat plateau geologically known as the Central Uplands, Kennesaw is the tallest mountain in a short string of peaks north and west of Atlanta. Just south of it is a smaller acme known as Little Kennesaw. Together these peaks are a unique formation that can be spotted from Lookout Mountain to the north and west, Oglethorpe Mountain to the northeast, and Stone Mountain due east.
Two more hills create a north-south line. Pigeon and Cheatham Hill were scenes of intense, albeit brief, fighting. From here south to Kolb's Farm the battle raged for almost a week as General William Tecumseh Sherman probed the Rebel line for weakness.
Creation of the Park
Kennesaw Mountain Park began its life in 1899, shortly after completion of Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park, when the state of Illinois purchased a small tract of land near the Dead Angle. Almost 500 men from the state died here during The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. Completed in 1914, The Illinois Monument was dedicated to these brave soldiers. The War Department took over management of the land in 1917. Over the next 21 years the park was expanded to include almost all of the 2,800+ acres it now encompasses. During the 1930's a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp was established near Pigeon Hill and workers from this camp were responsible for many of the improvements in the park, including almost all of the hiking trails.
The impressive Illinois Monument drawfs onlookers at Cheatham Hill
Into modern times
Starting in the late 1960's, expansion in Marietta began to put a strain on the resources of the park. Increased visitation and widening usage forced the park management to cope with new problems. Slowly the park began to expand from solely historic preservation to include community use. Thirty years later Park Management aggressively seeks to defend its borders against modern encroachment. Today the park and nearby historic buildings, such as the McAdoo House, where U. S. Senator and Secretary of the Treasury William McAdoo was born before The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain are threatened by modern intrusions like Publix and Kroger.
Last year more than a million people visited the park. In September 1997, a major construction project started, expanding the Visitors Center and upgrading facilities to handle the larger (1.3 million, 1997 estimate) crowds.
The area is a popular hiking and picnic destination for nearby Atlanta. Usage of the trails has increased dramatically and the once quiet park faces the transition to a peaceful island in an urban setting. One popular activity is birdwatching. Migratory species found at times within the park include solitary vireos and black-throated green warblers. The mountain is the southern limit of many northern species. Among the unique plants of this ecosystem is the wooly lip fern.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park contains fragile historic sites. Many have been damaged in the past by insensitive or uncaring people. It is important to make every effort possible to ensure that these monuments to our national heritage are preserved. Please make every effort to leave the park better than you find it.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
900 Kennesaw Mountain Drive
Kennesaw, GA 30144
(770) 427-1760 (fax)
OPERATING HOURS, SEASONS:
Open seven days a week, except closed Christmas day. Open 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
with some extended hours in the summer. Call for specifics.