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Monadnock Madness is your chance to stimulate your senses, challenge yourself physically and discover the scenic beauty at each of Metro Atlanta’s monadnocks. What? You don’t know what a monadnock is? Stone Mountain, Panola Mountain, and Arabia Mountain are all actually monadnocks; special types of mountains that are formed when hard blobs of lava are compressed under the Earth’s crust. Now that the softer rock around the granite clumps has been eroded away, Georgians are treated to three amazing geological oddities right in their backyard.
Exciting guided tours, fun classes, and events are scheduled throughout March 2014 to showcase the highlights of each mountain. As a special bonus, participants who visit all three parks in March can earn a surprise souvenir which they can wear as a badge of honor.
Feeling adventurous? Join the Triple Hike Challenge on March 8th or 16th and conquer each peak in one action-packed day. On the 16th you can even watch the moonrise from the peak of Panola Mountain. You can learn more about this event, see photos from last year, and RSVP for the Triple Hike Challenge at the Monadnock Madness website.
When not putting her savvy communication skills to use at the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, Kimberly Estep can most often be found wandering over hiking trails with her two dogs. Most of all, Kimberly loves sharing her knowledge of the hidden gems of Georgia with anyone who will listen.
The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, made possible with the financing of Horace L. Hunley, traveled via train from Mobile, Alabama, to Charleston in the summer of 1863. General P.G.T. Beauregard, in command of the department encompassing Charleston, sought any method practical to alleviate the ever-increasing effectiveness of the Federal blockade. After a couple of failed test runs, and the loss of several lives, Lieutenant George Dixon assembled a collection of seven brave volunteers to resume training. Their hard work finally paid off on February 17, as the Hunley crew approached the USS Housatonic, anchored outside the harbor, and planted her spar torpedo into the ship’s hull. The resultant explosion ripped the Housatonic apart, and in five minutes she sank beneath the waves of the Atlantic. Five sailors onboard the Federal ship died, but the balance of the 155-man crew found safety on the deck of the nearby Canandaigua. Dixon and his men perished during the attack.
While Dixon and crew prepared for their secret mission, two enterprising individuals also worked on a submersible of their own in Savannah. Charles G. Wilkinson and Charles Carroll, both members of the 25th Georgia Infantry, took their craft out for a test run on February 23 with disastrous results. Little knowledge of their design or plans exists. One historian noted, “…nothing more is known of the event or the fate of the boat.” A few newspaper accounts of the activity in Savannah serve as the main resources for what happened to Wilkinson, Carroll, and their submarine.
The Savannah Daily Morning News reported, “Lamentable accident. The chain of the crane upon which the instrument [the sub] was suspended gave way, and Dr. Wilkinson, the inventor, lost his life.” The account praised the men who “…were doing nothing for profit, but simply for the cause in which they were engaged.” The Savannah Daily Republican, in their February 25 edition, noted, “…Wilkinson…had been engaged for some time in perfecting a submarine apparatus; finding it defective in some respects, certain changes were made, which added materially to its weight.” Undoubtedly, this extra weight placed a strain on the cable lowering the vessel into the river. The dramatic fall quite possibly damaged the sub; Carroll effected an escape, while Wilkinson continued to work with an apparent faulty air valve.
The craft sank beneath the river’s surface taking Wilkinson to a watery grave. Rumors of the incident circulated throughout the Confederacy; Richmond’s Daily Dispatch carried a March 3 story, which stated, “Dr. C.G. Wilkinson, Lieutenant of the Emmet Rifles, lost his eye last Sunday, at Savannah, by the explosion of a submarine apparatus, inside of which he was at the time, under water.” Wilkinson lost more than an eye, and Beauregard’s hope for easing the ever-increasing effectiveness of the Federal blockade outside Charleston diminished; February 1864 proved unkind to the brave volunteers attacking beneath the waves for the Confederacy.
Rescue workers soon recovered Wilkinson’s body, and he received interment in Savannah’s Laurel Grove Cemetery. For the crew of the Hunley, they would rest at the bottom of the harbor until August 2000, when recovery efforts for the vessel finally brought her to the surface.
 Mark K. Ragan, Union and Confederate Submarine Warfare in the Civil War (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press, 2001), 43.
Michael K. Shaffer is the Assistant Director and Lecturer for Kennesaw State University’s Civil War Center , a Civil War historian, newspaper columnist, and author of ‘Washington County, Virginia in the Civil War.’ He is a member of the Society of Civil War Historians, Historians of the Civil War Western Theater, Georgia Association of Historians, and the Civil War Round Table of Atlanta. Michael also serves on the boards of the Civil War Round Table of Cobb County and the River Line Historic Area, and as a Civil War consultant for the Friends of Camp McDonald.
More properly called the Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Administration Building after the college’s greatest benefactor and the first female to sit on the Coca-Cola Company’s Board of Directors, the building sits at 225 North Avenue NW on the western side of the 75/85 highway locals refer to as “The Connector.”
Built starting in 1887 as one of the two original structures at what was then known as the Georgia School of Technology, the building wasn’t topped with the word TECH originally. In 1918, the Class of 1922 topped the tower with wooden letters painted white and gold spelling TECH on each side of the tower to “light the spirit of Tech to the four points of the compass.” In the 1930s, light bulbs were installed to illuminate the letters, and in 1949, neon lighting in metal frames was installed.
Inspired by a 1968 prank at Harvard University, a group of Georgia Tech fraternity brothers gave themselves the moniker the “Magnificent Seven” and stole a “T” from the TECH sign as a gift for outgoing Institute President Edwin D. Harrison’s retirement. In the book Engineering the New South: Georgia Tech 1885-1985, the authors write,
“A high point of the celebration came when Tech students unveiled and presented to Harrison a 5-foot-tall (1.5 m) T — a part of the four Tech signs around the top of the administration building that had mysteriously disappeared the preceding week — so that he would have what every Tech man needed, his own glowing yellow T for a conversation piece.”
That started a tradition of stealing the eastern-most “T,” as it is the one visible from the Connector. The “T” would then be returned during halftime of the year’s homecoming football game. Some university presidents have gone so far as to endorse the theft, such as John Patrick Crecine who said, “I think stealing the ‘T’ off the Tech Tower is among the all-time greatest rituals.”
At one point, there were so many school groups that wanted to be a part of the ritual, each of the “T’s” were missing and students had begun stealing the “H’s.”
From 1997-8, Tech Tower was “T”-less for 87 days following a theft on Nov. 7. Student newspaper The Technique reported at the time, “The Georgia Tech Office of Facilities replaced the ‘T’ during the day on January 31. Workers also replaced the other three ‘T’s that were damaged in the incident, as well as repaired the roof.” According to Dean Friedman, at that time the damages from the incident cost the school $12,223.75.
Since the “Magnificent Seven,” theft groups have named themselves, including the “Mystic Marauders” or the “Sneaky Four.” When the culprits of the 1997 crime were apprehended, The Technique listed them by their nicknames: “Hunt ‘Bo’ McDannald, Will ‘Whitey’ Moore, Justin ‘Bandit’ Preyer, Scott ‘Pedro the Mexican Ninja’ Serbin, and Jason ‘Boney’ Brizzell.”
According to Wikipedia, one of the most theatrical thefts of a “T” occurred in 1999:
“The ‘T’ on the north face of Tech Tower was stolen by a group of ‘six or seven people’ on the morning of June 3, 1999. The perpetrators wrote a letter detailing the theft to the editorial staff of The Technique, Georgia Tech’s student newspaper. The letter, an abridged version of which was subsequently printed in the summer issue of The Technique, described the process of stealing the ‘T’ by lowering it via a rope and moving it to a secret location. The letter also included a photograph of the ‘T’ ‘on vacation’ in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. Finally, the perpetrators indicated plans to return the ‘T’ during the Georgia Tech Homecoming Parade, according to tradition, as long as no criminal charges would be brought against them. The letter was signed by fictitious Georgia Tech alumnus George P. Burdell. However, the Institute released a notice that those who stole the ‘T’ would be harshly punished, and therefore the ‘T’ remains to this day at an undisclosed location.”
Thinking of stealing the “T” today? Climbing on any Georgia Tech structure is not allowed, while stealing the ‘T’ is strictly prohibited and is officially punishable with expulsion. Potential thieves should also know that there are security features now installed at the building commonly known as Tech Tower, including pressure-sensitive roof tiling, fiber optic cabling running throughout the letters, and an audible alarm.
* For a behind-the-scenes look inside Tech Tower (including some of the security features) see this Facebook album from the College of Engineering.
Eileen Falkenberg-Hull is a digital marketing professional based in Atlanta who first visited Georgia in 1994 and decided that when she graduated from college she would make Georgia her home. Since 2007 that dream has been a reality. She is the founder and executive director of Occupy My Family.