Kennesaw Mountain
Administrative History
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Development of Kennesaw Mountain NBP

NPS development of Kennesaw Mountain NBP began shortly after its transfer from the War Department in 1933. One of the first needs was the construction of a new approach road to the site from Dallas Road. A request for $7000 was submitted to the Public Works Administration in October 1933. Another $2500 was requested for the purchase of approximately 12 acres through which the road would be built. Superintendent Richard B. Randolph of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, who had been given responsibility for administering Kennesaw Mountain NBP, was directed to obtain options on the land needed. In November, Randolph proposed a 60-foot-wide right-of-way for a 1/ 2-mile through the Channell property.

In the meantime, Cobb County worked to improve Dallas Road. [32] In January 1934, forester A. Robert Thompson inspected Kennesaw Mountain NBP and filed a report on conditions at the site. Thompson found that the central ridge of Cheatham Hill was covered by sparse forest with no undergrowth. The forest floor had been swept clean of virtually all topsoil and forest litter. An open area was partially under cultivation but the predominant vegetation was broom sedge and Johnson grass with patches of loblolly pine. The Ward Creek bed was badly eroded. Thompson recommended that the proposed Civil Works project consist of forest clean up, grubbing out the broom sedge, disposal of the rocky litter, and erosion control. Leaves and dead wood should be raked to the center ridge and burned. Poor and dead trees were to be removed; only dead snags should be pruned; and no forest litter was to be removed. He further cautioned against over-development of the area; the only road should be the entrance road. To prevent further erosion, leaves and pine needles should be scattered over the site to re-establish the forest litter. [33]

A second inspection by landscape architect Kenneth Simmons in March 1934 resulted in an outline for improvement of the grounds that called for regrading the stream slopes and the use of rip-rap to control erosion and the re-establishment of 40 acres of terraced hillsides and lowlands as meadows. The project would involve seeding, fertilizing, and planting. Work began in April 1934 with the employment of skilled laborers at $1.00 per hour and unskilled laborers at 70 cents per hour. A temporary toolhouse and office was built in the Cheatham Hill area and a trail that avoided the earthworks was constructed to the Illinois Monument. A large quantity of stone was used for stream bank erosion on the eastern bank of Noyes Creek. A small amount of native plant material was collected and planted in the woods near the monument.

To rehabilitate the fields, including thirty acres previously cultivated by the caretaker, they were plowed, harrowed, fertilized, and seeded to cowpeas. Considerable work was also done on old erosion control terraces that had been improperly laid out. In September, the cowpeas were plowed under, the fields were harrowed again, and the old terrace system was completely replaced. By April 1935, the fields had been harrowed a third time and bermuda sod had formed a permanent stand of grass. [34]

In 1935, Superintendent Randolph inspected the site and announced that a program of general physical improvement had begun. Among the early accomplishments were a complete layout of trails and the planting of grass in key areas. In the Cheatham Hill area, the parking lot, which had been built in 1934 and was located south of the monument, was relocated to a site north of the monument. The ranger building, which had been near the parking, was also moved and improved. A work plan completed in 1937 called for construction of a custodian's residence, a utility building, a water and sewer system, a north-south highway, bridges over Ward and Noyes creeks, an entrance station, an administration building; the razing of undesirable buildings; the reconstruction of the road to the summit; and general landscaping. Estimated cost of the development was $355,000. [35]

Much of the work done at Kennesaw Mountain NBP until 1934 was carried out through the Civil Works Administration. A report on CWA work in April 1934 found that 60 acres had been cleared of refuse, stumps, and other fire hazards; that 37 stone erosion dams had been constructed; that 6000 square yards of extreme erosion had been filled and graded and 109 sod dams, totaling 537 linear feet had been built; that 620 linear yards of trail had been built, with an additional 60 linear yards of trail foundation laid; that 158 pine seedlings, three cedar seedlings, 78 sweet shrubs, three black haws, and eight sumacs had been transplanted; and that 925 linear yards of Confederate trench near the Illinois monument had been planted in honeysuckle. B. F. Lane, superintendent, and W. P. Lemon, skilled worker, had supervised the work. [36]


The establishment of CCC Camp NM -3 at Kennesaw Mountain NBP in 1938 provided the NPS with a new source of labor and money. By April 1938, eight camp buildings, including four barracks, an army and NPS headquarters for offices, and a welfare building, had been built. Work had started on a mess hall. The completed camp was to have 22 buildings. In June, 110 CCC workers arrived at the "Camp T. M. Brumby" as it became known. [37]

For the next four years, all development work done at Kennesaw Mountain NBP was done by CCC labor. Much of it was a continuation of the earlier CWA projects such as erosion control and planting. Also included were such ongoing projects as razing of undesirable buildings on park lands; improvement of road shoulders along U. S. Highway 41; and the building and improving of park roads. [38]

In addition to the ongoing projects, much construction was done. In 1939, work began on the renovation of the Hyde House, at the base of Big Kennesaw Mountain, for use as a museum and headquarters building and the renovation of farm residences in the park for use as employee quarters. The superintendent's residence was the George Channell house, located along the entrance road built by the War Department. By 1940, foundations had been laid for utility buildings that would house trucks and equipment, a blacksmith and auto repair shop, and storage. To provide water a 20,000 gallon water tank was built 200 feet up on the north side of the mountain. By 1941, cast iron entrance signs were erected along U. S. Highway 41 and the Dallas Road and dry pit toilets were installed at the crest of Big Kennesaw and in the Cheatham Hill area. By the time the camp was closed on March 10, 1942, CCC labor had provided work worth 1283 mandays on road construction; 215 mandays on building the repair shop; 225 mandays on construction of toilets; 70 mandays on erection of signs; and 79 mandays on building renovation. [39]


One of the most critical early needs of the park was the development of adequate roads. To facilitate its road work, the CCC began operating a quarry in 1939 on the side of Big Kennesaw and used a rock crusher to produce the necessary surfacing material. [40]

The first project was the construction of a road from Dallas Road to Cheatham Hill. [41] Following a formal ceremony, on March 11, 1940, attended by NPS officials and Marietta city officials, 50 CCC workers were put on the job. The Cheatham Hill road was graded and rock surfaced, and headwalls and culverts were installed. By December 1940, a 160 feet by 100 feet parking area was completed. In March 1941, the road was opened for use. Work, however, continued with additional grading and fill and seeding and sodding of the roadsides. Its final total length was 3400 feet. In June 1941, the road was paved by the road crew from Great Smoky Mountains National Park. [42]

Other road work was necessary when the state widened Highway 41 so that it could be converted into a four-lane highway if necessary. The shoulders and back slopes were sloped and planted by CCC workers. Similar sloping and planting was done along Stilesboro, Burnt Hickory, and Dallas roads. [43]

The project that attracted the most attention was the proposed development of the road up Kennesaw Mountain. The Kennesaw Mountain Association had built a road up the mountain in the 1920s but it was rough and dangerous. The National Park Service improved it for use as a work road but it remained closed to the public. When planning for the development of the park began in 1939, NPS engineers started looking seriously at ways to improve the road further so that it could become part of the park tour. At one point, they considered building a loop road but finally rejected it as too intrusive. Instead they planned to widen the existing road into two lanes, although problems were anticipated in providing a turn around and parking at the crest. In January 1941, the Regional Engineer made a site visit and determined that ditches needed to be widened, cross-drains and rock fill installed, the slopes stabilized, and a guard wall built. He also recommended that the new road terminate at 100 feet from the crest instead of at 60 feet as the existing one did; parking could be installed there. [44]

Despite these recommendations, though, the mountain road was not included in the initial road system plan approved by the Interior Secretary in 1940 because details concerning how the traffic would be accommodated had not yet been definitely determined. Topographical surveys and other studies were still needed. [45]

By 1941, these studies had been completed and work on the road began on August 25. In September, Superintendent George Wilkins announced that the road work was nearing completion. More than 100 CCC workers were on the job and an October 1 opening date was anticipated.

While construction got underway, different proposals were made for how the road would be used. Olinus Smith suggested that the existing road be improved enough that buses could be used to transport visitors. A parking area could be constructed at the intersection of the mountain road and the CCC camp road where visitors would pay 10 cents per adult and 5 cents per child to board the bus. The old quarry could be used as a bus garage and a shelter, picnic area, and comfort station would be built at the top. Another proposal was to let visitors drive their own vehicles up the road after warning them of its condition. The charge would be 25 cents per auto, with annual passes available for $1.00. [46]

No decision was made regarding the proposals, though, since the opening of the road was postponed indefinitely. At first it was because of the ongoing litigation. Then, with the closing of the CCC camp in 1942 and the increasing demands placed on funds and the workforce by World War II, the opening date had to be set back further. But despite these problems, some work was accomplished in the 1940s. The road was graded and the ditches were cleaned out; culverts were cleaned and large rocks removed. It was open to hikers and was used as a fire road by the park but remained closed to public vehicles since it was still considered to be dangerous. Lack of funds during and after the war prevented any further upgrading. [47]

In 1950, interest in opening the mountain road to public traffic was revived but, because of the Korean War, the NPS did not have the money. Congressman Henderson Lanham, of the 7th District, tried but was unable to get $35,000 -$ 45,000 for improving and paving the road. Finally, Cobb County raised $25,000 and received a $58,000 federal grant that enabled it to rent machinery from the park and use county labor to reopen the road. Under the supervision of the park superintendent, the upper half of the road was widened and a 15 -car parking lot was built. [48]

The mountain road was not the only concern in park development. Planning for a park wide road system. was also started in 1939 and a general policy of road location was approved by the Director. Eventually, park and regional officials developed a plan to build a closed loop road that would be located on the crests of the ridges and to the rear of the entrenchments. This road would connect sites selected for interpretive development and would constitute a complete tour of the park. The road was not to intrude on the historically important parts of the field and the most significant sites were to be restored to their historic period. [49]

There were problems with developing a closed loop road, though, due to the number of county roads that went through the park. To avoid them, several expensive overpasses would have to be built. It was anticipated that two would be needed over Dallas Road, two over Burnt Hickory, and two over Powder Springs. But the cost of such work was prohibitive and the loop road was never built. At one point, Cobb County indicated a willingness to reroute some of the roads to prevent the necessity for overpasses. In an attempt to capitalize on this idea, Superintendent Bowling C. Yates suggested the closing to the public of John Ward, Old Mountain, a portion of Burnt Hickory, and a portion of Stilesboro road. Anticipating that this would be unpopular with the local residents, he further suggested buying all the interior lands (approximately 850 acres). Doing so, he reasoned, would eliminate the need for overpasses and be cheaper in the long run. But the government was not interested in acquiring more land and nothing ever came of the idea. The county's offer was never acted upon either. [50]

The last major attempt at road development by the NPS at Kennesaw Mountain NBP began in 1967. The construction of the new Highway 41 had made access to the park difficult. To alleviate the problem, the Park Service began negotiations with the county and the state for a possible land exchange so that a new entrance road to the park could be built. The county was receptive to the idea but estimated that the cost of obtaining a standard right-of-way would be $361,000. Unfortunately, the land the park had available for exchange was only worth $63,000. The idea subsequently stalled. [51]

The proposal lay dormant until 1969 when the State approached the NPS with a proposal to relocate Highway 5. The new route would sever a small tract of park land but it might be possible to exchange this for land needed for an entrance road. Unfortunately, this plan also failed. [52]

In the meantime, the NPS continued its efforts to obtain land for an entrance road. But any land that the park had for an exchange was not equal in value to what was needed. The proposed site of the entrance road was zoned primarily commercial and industrial whereas the park lands were residential. Any exchange would require the government to pay the difference, but there was no money. [53]

By 1972, the land exchange idea was abandoned. Instead the NPS decided to seek a boundary change and authority to use Land and Water Conservation funds for purchase of approximately 50 acres to build an entrance road. As of 1994, though, this has not been accomplished. [54]


During World War II, development of the park all but ceased due to the lack of money and manpower, especially after the CCC camp was closed in 1942. But in 1956 plans were drawn up for development as part of the Servicewide Mission 66 program. More than $1.5 million worth of road improvements, trail construction, landscaping, and building construction was planned. [55]

Building construction proved to be a major part of the Mission 66 program at Kennesaw Mountain. In June 1963, a $174,401 contract was awarded to Carters Construction Company of Atlanta for the building of a new visitor center. Plans for the 7500 square foot building included an audiovisual auditorium, a display room, an information desk, and administrative offices. Groundbreaking ceremonies took place on July 17. [56]

Despite some problems with water intrusion that necessitated the use of rock fill under the foundation and the redirection of surface drainage, construction of the visitor center progressed rapidly. A new sewage disposal system and drainfield were also a part of the project. On May 6, 1964, the new visitor center was occupied. Although scaled down from 7500 feet to 6000 feet, it was a vast improvement over the old Hyde House that had been the headquarters building since the 1930s. [57]

Another project made possible by Mission 66 funding was the restoration of the Valentine Kolb House. The Kolb House has the distinction of being the only structure at Kennesaw Mountain NBP that existed at the time of the battle. Originally built in the 1830s by Peter Valentine Kolb, the house was used in June 1864 as Union Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker's headquarters. Some of the heaviest fighting of the June 22 battle took place on the farm and around the house. After the war, it changed ownership several times and a number of alterations were made, including the covering of the log exterior with weatherboarding.

In 1941, Superintendent B. C. Yates began interviewing surviving family members in an effort to ascertain the appearance of the building in 1864. His hope was that the house would be restored to serve as an interpretive exhibit for the park. Initially, his idea was not favorably viewed. In 1946, the Regional Director, in a memo to the Director, stated that "... unless the structure has other historical significance in the interpretive program to justify the expense, . . . we . . . recommend the house be razed and the interpretive tour be terminated at [Cheatham] Hill. " [58] But the Director disagreed and recommended that the house be restored on the exterior and modernized inside for use as an employee residence. [59]

Despite this recommendation, though, funding for restoration did not become available until the 1960s. In 1961, Yates compiled a history of the Kolb House based on his interviews and research. That same year, architects made a preliminary investigation of the house to verify the architectural details. In 1962 and 1963, an historic structure report was prepared to identify and evaluate the original portions of the building and to determine what needed to be done for the restoration. Similar period buildings in the area were studied for clues as to the appearance of certain details. [60]

The historic structure report recommended that the foundations be restored, the exterior weatherboarding be removed and certain logs replaced, the two porches be reconstructed, the chimneys be rebuilt, and a new wooden shingle roof be installed. It also recommended the restoration of as many of the original features as possible on the interior. Modernization would include the addition of electric heat and insulation. [61] The restoration was completed in 1963.

Other Mission 66 construction in the park included two employee residences built near the visitor center and a new concrete block oilhouse. Each house had 1607 square feet and included three bedrooms, a utility room, carport, and storage. They were completed in March 1965. The oil house was built in 1966 by R. C. Powell Construction of Smyrna to replace the old wood frame building which was subsequently demolished.

With the completion of the various building projects, contracts were let for grounds and landscaping work. In the area of the new visitor center, trees and shrubs were planted, grading was done around the building, the entrance terrace walls and steps were constructed, a flagstaff was installed, and planting beds were built. The work was done by Scott's Grading and Landscaping Company and Green Brothers Nurseries of Decatur, Georgia, for $49,285. The project was completed in October 1966. [62]

Other work done in the vicinity of the visitor center and new residences consisted of the demolition of the old headquarters building by Hudgins and Company of Atlanta for $1600; the construction of roads to the new housing by H& H Construction Company of Marietta for $1632; and the construction of slate, concrete, and brick entrance terrace steps and stepping stones around the visitor center by Scott's Landscaping and Grading Company for $11,247. [63]

In 1964, the Georgia Centennial Hall of Fame Committee built the granite Georgia overlook on Big Kennesaw. Completed in June and dedicated to the memory of the 14 Confederate generals from Georgia who fought in the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, the memorial was donated to the NPS. The NPS installed a battery operated message repeater unit, erected informational and directional signs, installed safety barriers, produced the message repeater tapes, stabilized the rock wall as necessary, and planted shrubs.

Unfortunately, poor construction, lack of rigid specifications, and pressure to complete the structure on schedule had resulted in a memorial that was soon a safety hazard. By June 1966, approximately 40% of it was closed due to movement of the retaining wall. Temporary repairs consisted of installing reinforcing rods and placing fill material under the flagstone flooring. But it soon became apparent to park officials that the memorial would have to be rebuilt.

Mission 66 road work consisted primarily of upgrading and improving the existing roads. In July 1963 the mountain and Cheatham Hill roads were treated with asphalt and rock. The last dirt roads within the park were eliminated when Cobb County paved Ridenour and John Ward roads in February 1963. Along with the road work new boundary and entrance signs were erected. [64]

The first trails developed in the park were in the Cheatham Hill area in the 1930s. When Big and Little Kennesaw Mountains were acquired, development there included the construction of more trails and the work continued steadily over the years. When the park's Mission 66 program was inaugurated, additional trail construction and improvement was part of the development package. In June 1964, a .20 mile trail from the mountain parking lot to the summit was paved. Between 1965 and 1968, work was done on trails from the visitor center to the summit and from Big Kennesaw to Little Kennesaw. Timber and brush was cleared, the trails were marked, and erosion control devices were installed. In March 1967, the trail from the visitor center up the mountain was made into a self-guiding historical-nature trail. The Boy Scout hiking trail, built in 1963, was rerouted to get it off of the roads. In 1972, new footbridges were built. Trail improvement and maintenance became a routine duty at Kennesaw. [65]


In addition to NPS work, some development activities were accomplished by outside groups. One such project was the construction of the Georgia memorial. In 1963, Representative A. A. Fowler, of Douglas County, introduced a resolution in the state legislature calling for $6500 to pay for a granite monument to the Georgians killed in the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. Although it failed to pass in that session, the resolution was reintroduced in 1964 by Cobb County Senator Edward S. Kendrick. Eventually the money was appropriated and the Georgia memorial was placed at the foot of the mountain. Later, the state of Texas placed a monument on the field in the Cheatham Hill area. [66]

By 1970, most of the development work planned for Kennesaw Mountain NBP had been completed. Emphasis shifted to maintenance of existing roads, trails, and facilities.

In 1972, the mountain road was resurfaced and in 1976 a $105,000 contract for the leveling and resurfacing of all major park roads and parking areas was awarded to Stewart Brothers Construction. The work included building up and reseeding of the road shoulders. [67]

Park trails required regular routine maintenance for stabilization and erosion control. Foot bridges were built where necessary. Beginning in 1975, Youth Conservation Corps labor was utilized for much of this work. [68]

Facility maintenance consisted of periodic painting of the visitor center and residences; installation of a burglar/ fire alarm system in the visitor center in 1976; the replacement of the visitor center roof in 1979; the replacement of the visitor center heating and cooling system; treatment of the Kolb House with wood preservative; and the construction of wheelchair ramps at the visitor center. [69]

Other accomplishments during the 1970s and 1980s were cutting and marking the park boundary; the erection of historic rail fencing around the open fields; selective vista clearing; the cleaning of the Illinois and other monuments; the removal of the picnic tables and pit toilets at Cheatham Hill; the installation of an interpretive exhibit at the Illinois Monument and the refurbishing of interpretive signs on the mountain; the construction of a new parking lot at the Kolb House; the placement of cannon at selected sites on the battlefield; the paving of the parking area along Burnt Hickory in 1979; and the restoration of the Georgia overlook in 1981. [70]

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Last Updated: 01-Sep-2001