Kennesaw Mountain
Administrative History
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Planning Efforts at Kennesaw Mountain NBP


From 1933 to 1939, the goal of most work done at Kennesaw Mountain NBP was the accomplishment of specific tasks. Civil Works Administration workers were occupied with forest clean-up, erosion control, and other grounds work intended to stabilize the landscape. But with the establishment of the CCC camp in 1938, with its steady supply of labor, the National Park Service began to plan for the long range development of the park. As a consequence, the first Master Plan was prepared and completed in 1939. It addressed the development of roads, trails, and utilities.

The establishment of a park road system was a priority in the Master Plan. It recommended the improvement of the existing rough road up Big Kennesaw so that visitors could ascend to the top. From there it would be possible to become oriented to the field of battle and gain a better understanding of the mountain's importance in the military operations of 1864. Parking would be located below the crest but a trail would allow access to the Confederate battery positions. [125]

As for the rest of the park, the plan called for a loop road system that would connect specific points selected for interpretation of the military actions in the vicinity. The road that would cross Burnt Hickory and Dallas roads would do so at grade, but it was anticipated that when traffic in the area became heavier, overpasses would be necessary. All park roads were to be located along the ridgelines, to the rear of the entrenchments. This would prevent intrusion into the historic fabric of the park, but would still allow access to the key portions of the battlefield. All roads would be two way and hard surfaced.

Aside from facilitating access to the battlefield, another objective of a closed loop road system was the establishment of some measure of control over traffic in the park. Those roads not serving an historic area and not needed for interpretive purposes were to be closed to the public. Their use was to be restricted to the movement of materials, for the patrol of the park, and as fire truck trails. Historic roads were not to be used for modern traffic because of the damage it could inflict. Certain portions of these roads could be preserved as field exhibits, while others could become trails.

To allow the visitor greater access to the battlefield, a number of trails were to be developed. These trails would radiate from each of the developed areas and would be connected at some point with one another. In certain strategic areas, trailside exhibits, including maps, photographs and narratives, would be placed.

The first priority for construction of roads within the park would be that portion extending from Burnt Hickory across Dallas to Powder Springs Road. The portions of Stilesboro and Old Mountain roads that extended from Highway 41 to Burnt Hickory would be utilized to gain access to the park road system.

In addition to the roads, the Master Plan also addressed the development of the proposed new headquarters area, at the base of Big Kennesaw, and six other "developed areas" within the park. In the headquarters area, construction of certain utilities would be necessary. For water, a 20,000 gallon water tank was to be built on the side of the mountain. The sewage disposal system was to be designed in such a way that only one septic tank and one disposal field would be necessary. Power and telephone lines were to be placed underground. The objective was to have as little direct visual impact as possible. [126]

The other areas to be developed included the line of Federal assault along Burnt Hickory; the Federal position at Horseshoe Bend, the line of Confederate assault on Powder Springs Road, and the scene of the Federal flanking movements that forced the Confederates to retire from the field. Each of the points was chosen for its accessibility, visibility, and historic significance. Development of each would require restoration of fields and woodland, construction of overlooks, erection of trailside exhibits and markers, construction of trails and parking, marking of building sites; restoration of fortifications, period homes, and possibly of schools, churches, and mills. Undesirable structures would be razed. [127]

The 1939 Master Plan was the first comprehensive plan for the development of Kennesaw Mountain NBP but it was not the last. For the next decade, park officials worked to implement the projects it had outlined. They also revised and refined the plan in subsequent versions. Some projects, such as development of the headquarters area, were accomplished just as they were planned. But others, most notably the construction of a closed loop road system, were altered as circumstances warranted. At a March 1947 planning conference, a number of changes were made in the proposal for the road. It was decided that Stilesboro Road would be used to reach the 24 gun battery; a new road would be constructed from the battery to Burnt Hickory; Burnt Hickory would be used for access to the Pigeon Hill area; and a road would be built on the ridge east of Pigeon Hill across Noyes Creek to Dallas Road. There an overpass was to be built so the road could junction with the road to Cheatham Hill, which would then be extended to the Kolb House.

But even these road plans were not fully implemented. Circumstances continued to conspire against the planners and the ever changing situation demanded preparation of new plans.


With the inauguration of the Service-wide Mission 66 program in 1956, Kennesaw Mountain NBP entered a new round of planning activity. Anticipating an influx of new money from the program, park officials began considering the further development of the park. The Mission 66 plan also considered what kind of a park organization would be necessary for its effective implementation.

According to the plan, the objectives of the park program were the administration and protection of the area and the provision of adequate services and interpretation for the visitors. To accomplish these goals, several things were necessary. To protect the park and its resources, more effort was to be made in establishing and maintaining good public relations. Contacts with local media and park neighbors were to be actively pursued. By doing so, park officials hoped to enlist the public's aid in preserving the park. In addition, soil and moisture conservation work and fire protection efforts were to remain top priorities. [128]

To facilitate visitor services, a new visitor center was to be built in the headquarters area. Here, a museum, audio-visual devices, and information services would be readily available. Other interpretive devices would include literature, roadside exhibits, signs, panoramic sketches, and maps. The building would house the park's administrative offices as well. The proposal also called for the construction of additional maintenance facilities. [129]

Plans for the road system had been altered again, but the basic proposal for a closed loop remained. Key historic points were to be connected by a ridgeline road that would overpass Burnt Hickory and Dallas roads. The system would have one entrance and would enable park officials to control, to some extent, access and traffic. The construction of the new Highway 41 made it desirable to acquire land for a new entrance road. [130]

The Mission 66 plan also considered the problems posed by the privately owned in-holdings. With the growth of Cobb County and the Marietta area, land use patterns had changed. Agricultural use of the in-holdings was being replaced with residential development. Park management subsequently began to consider the possibilities of additional land acquisition. Such a move, though, would require new legislation. [131]

To administer and operate the park there would be a superintendent, a ranger, an historian, an administrative aid, a clerk-stenographer, and an information-specialist. These full-time employees were to be supplemented with two historians and two seasonal rangers for six months each year (April-September). There would also be a maintenance man and two laborers.

The superintendent was charged with the responsibility of interpreting and applying all phases of NPS policies and with the administration of the area and general supervision over all planning and development. The business operations of his office were conducted by the administrative aid.

The ranger was to be responsible for the protection and preservation of the park area; all activities connected with forestry, wildlife, grounds, trail maintenance, forest fire suppression, land appraisal and acquisition, enforcement of all applicable laws, rules, and regulations, fire prevention and control, insect control, traffic control, furnishing of park and directional information, and cooperative observance and recordation of weather. Hunting regulations were enforced with the cooperation of state and county agencies.

The interpretive effort was to be directed by the historian. He supervised a program of interpretive lectures, conducted tours, and information services to acquaint visitors with park history and other features of interest. In addition, he conducted research, supervised the operation of the museum and park library, the painting of signs and trailside exhibits, and the collection and tabulation of records of park travel use. [132]

The maintenance man supervised all maintenance activities including utilities, water and sewage systems, plumbing and heating systems, the operation of the garage and repair shops, and the upkeep of all tools and materials. [133]

Following the completion of the Mission 66 program, planning at Kennesaw Mountain NBP became less concerned with development and more emphasis was placed on management of the park in the face of changing conditions. By the 1970s, increasing visitation and pressures from surrounding development had made management of the park more challenging. Aside from the heavy traffic and recreational use of the park, there was more vandalism, metal detecting, and other law enforcement problems. [134]


By the 1980s, these problems and pressures had become so great that park management instituted some restrictions and made some changes to the way the park was used. Primary among these changes were the designation of specific areas for recreational use; the shifting of living history programs from the field near the visitor center to Cheatham Hill as a means of providing an official presence there to deter misuse; and the prohibition against drug and alcohol use in the park. Other changes, intended to promote the preservation of park resources, included the stabilization of earthworks, the strengthening of the interpretive program with new waysides, and a better safeguarding of the park's collection and archeological resources. [135]

Individual components of the plan included land use and management, resource management, visitor use and interpretation, general development, and boundary adjustments and land protection.

For land use and management, the park was divided into two management zones. The historic zone, totaling approximately 2878 acres, was the largest. Emphasis was to be placed on preservation and interpretation of historic sites, structures and objects. The park development zone consisted of the 4-5 acres around the visitor center, maintenance facility, and park housing. Resource management placed emphasis on preservation of the park's collection, structures, and archeological resources. This included the rehabilitation of earthworks as a part of the effort to restore the park's historic scene. Interpretation was to take place at six nodes: orientation at the visitor center with printed and graphic interpretive displays at Big Kennesaw, Pigeon Hill, Cheatham Hill, the 24 gun battery, and Kolb Farm. A wayside exhibit plan was to be prepared by Harpers Ferry Center. No further development was planned, with the exception of some additional parking at selected sites. In fact, some previous development, such as the picnic tables and toilets at Cheatham Hill, were to be removed. In an attempt to deal more directly with the development pressures from outside, park management committed to being more involved in reviewing new proposals adjacent to park land. [136]

In 1989, park officials again addressed the major issues and objectives facing the park when they prepared a Statement for Management and a Land Protection Plan. The pressures of outside development, the need for more intensive resource protection, and the determination of how best to accommodate a growing number of visitors were identified as major areas of concern for future management.

Throughout its history, planning efforts have been a vital part of Kennesaw Mountain NBP's story. From the early years of the Master Plan through the ambitious Mission 66 plan, development was the primary focus. Getting people to the park and providing facilities and services for them once they were there was the objective. But by the 1970s and 1980s, planning efforts relected the changes the park and the vicinity had undergone. Instead of needing to facilitate access to the park and attract more visitors, park management found itself facing problems brought on by too much accessibility and too many visitors. The goal was no longer development but wise and effective management. That goal will remain the challenge of Kennesaw Mountain NBP's managers well into the future.

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Last Updated: 01-Sep-2001