Georgia is the proud home of one of the largest single masses of exposed granite in the world. Granite mined from the mountain has been used in many well-known projects, including the state capitol building. Stone Mountain is home to the world’s largest statue which is located on the face of the mountain. The figures of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee are depicted along with Lee’s famous horse Traveler. Something that not many would know is that live shrimp can be found at the top of Stone Mountain, 1,683 feet above sea level. Depressions in the stone gather rainwater that provides all them with the habit they need to grow and thrive.
Georgia has 159 counties, more than any other east of the Mississippi. Out of all those counties, only one is named for a woman. Nancy Hart was a frontierswoman who made it her life’s mission to rid Georgia of British Loyalists during the American Revolution. There a many, many legends about Nancy Hart. She was a six-foot tall, muscular redhead. Maybe even a relative of the legendary Daniel Boone. When her husband was away, she would often dress as a man to spy on the British. She’s most famous for capturing six British soldiers. It’s said her husband came home to find her holding them at gunpoint. Then they, along with some neighbors hung and buried them. Six bodies were found at her old farm in 1912, giving some credence to the legend.
Georgia was the first state to create a state-supported university. Lyman Hall was a medical doctor and signer of the Declaration of Independence before he became governor of Georgia. He persuaded the Georgia legislature to grant 40,000 acres for the purpose of founding a university. Abraham Baldwin, a Founding Father, was then recruited to write the charter. It was passed on January 27th, 1785 and the University of Georgia was founded and public higher education was born. Georgia is also home to another college first. Wesleyan College in Macon was the first college in the world chartered to grant degrees to women. The charter was passed in 1872. Then in 1909, the board of trustees voted to stop admitting women because apparently college just wasn’t masculine anymore. Then in 1970, they decided to allow women to attend again, seemingly willing to let their masculine egos be bruised.
So, what exactly is a possum drop? Well, it is an age-old tradition in Tallapoosa Georgia where a possum named Spencer is dropped in a wire ball covered in white lights. It goes all the way back, many years ago, to the early 2000s. Before that though, years ago, a taxidermist named Bud Jones found a roadkill possum and took it home to stuff. He then put him in his wildlife museum/shop and gave him the name of Spencer, after Ralph Spencer who was a businessman who helped the town grow in the late 19th century. Then one fateful New Year’s Eve, a group of friends decided to do a ball drop off one of the oldest buildings in town. So why add a possum? Before the town was named Tallapoosa after the nearby river, the local miners called it Possum Snout. The locals eventually made possums the unofficial mascot of the town. The Possum Drop started off small, just some friends and only every other year. But each year they did it, it got bigger and bigger until it made sense to have it every year. Now, it attracts around 4,000 people each New Year’s Eve. There’s live music, fireworks and even a crowning of a Possum King and Queen.
Not Just Peaches
Georgia is known as the state that grows the peaches. It grows many varieties which is how it got its name as The Peach State. It ranks 3rd in peach production in the U.S. However, peaches aren’t the only thing that grows that Georgia is known for. Heck, it’s not even the only thing that the state grows that starts with a P. Peanuts are one of Georgia’s biggest sectors of agriculture. Georgia is the country’s leading producer of peanuts, producing around 3.2 billion pounds a year. It is also home to the world’s largest peanut, granted it is fake and sits atop a large yellow crown. Another thing that grows in Georgia that starts with a P are pecans. Georgia once also ranked number one in pecan production. That is until a hurricane in 2018 damaged a good portion of the orchards, it will take years for them to recover.