Visit Shaking Rock City, the One in Oglethorpe County, not Chattanooga

shaking rock
The Shaking Rock is Lexington's geologic claim to fame.

By Jim Miles

The titanic upheavals of nature have produced many balanced rocks.  “Shaking rocks” or “rocking stones” are a geological phenomenon which occurs when natural forces deposit a large boulder on top of a second rock, with the first stone balanced perfectly with only one or two points touching the base.  Such a stone can be pushed or rocked on this axis.  One, called Shaking Rock, is located a few blocks south of the Oglethorpe County Courthouse in Lexington.  Children could once easily move the 15 -ton boulder.

The Shaking Rock

Shaking Rock was discovered by George R. Gilmer, a distinguished lawyer who served several terms as governor, state legislator, and United States Congressman.  In 1838 Gilmer’s always fragile health collapsed.  While convalescing at home in Lexington, he scoured the countryside for minerals, Indian artifacts, and geological curiosities.  During this time he began to develop the natural wonders where he had played as a child.

In his autobiography, Gilmer described the place where he found Shaking Rock, on a hilltop with a stream running along its base.  “Masses of granite rocks, which have been divided by some great convulsion, are scattered about,” he wrote, “the parts usually lying so near, and being so shaped for fitting into each other, that the most casual observer discovers that they were at one time united.”

On this hill he found a rock “which rests upon two small points at its transverse ends so equally, that it is easily moved.  A level space of several feet extends from this moveable rock to the precipice.  The young people of the village assemble here to try the state of their hearts, by trying to set the rock in motion.  As this is easily done, everyone over fifteen is found to be in love.”

Gilmer decided that this mysterious spot should be a public park, so he bought the land to share its wonders with others.  He laid out a walk from his home to the rock city and decorated it with flowers, grapevines, and fruit trees.  The enchanted site was preserved and today Shaking Rock Park is maintained by Oglethorpe County.

The rocks are overwhelming in size, number, shape, and unique positions.  There are perfectly flat boulders like Table Rock, which appears to have been sawn off even, and an immense stone split cleanly down the middle with the halves lying three feet from each other is called The Squeeze.  Giant rocks lie atop each other, leaving cavern-like spaces seven feet beneath them.  The sides of some rocks have been shaved clean, while others sport huge blisters as if they had been exposed to great heat.

On top of the largest mass of stone in the park is Shaking Rock.  It resembles an enormous turtle shell with a long, narrow neck, or the turret of a tank.  Two people, by alternately pushing on each end, can stimulate a motion in the great stone.  Bring your loved one and try the state of your hearts.

The Other Shaking Rock

Georgia has one other shaking rock.  In western McDuffie County is an “Indian throne” where “one large rock is perfectly balanced upon another, so that it rocks to and fro, upon being given a start, yet cannot be dislodged,” according to a local history book.  It somewhat resembles a throne, and local legend has Native American chiefs using it as such.

Jim Milesufossavannah is the author of two Weird Georgia books, seven books about Georgia ghosts and eight books about the Civil War. To see all of his books go to the Jim Miles Author Page on Amazon. Order autographed books or contact Jim directly at milesbooks@cox.net

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