It was announced Friday that 152 acres on the crest and slopes of the mountain have been sold by retired Marietta attorney and former state Rep. Raymond Reed, 96, to the Snellville-based and heretofore little-known Georgia Piedmont Land Trust. The nonprofit GPLT focuses on preserving greenspace in Georgia’s Piedmont region, which includes Cobb County.
Not only is the acreage in question very scenic, but also very historic. It still contains multiple traces of the earthworks dug by the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Gen. Joseph Johnston in 1864 in the weeks before the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain.
The discounted $2 million sale was funded by the Civil War Battlefield Land Acquisition Grant program administered through the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Program. The Trust for Public Land partnered with the state Department of Natural Resources to help with the grant as well, which was awarded via the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. Funding for the LWCF is generated by a portion of revenues paid by oil and gas companies to drill in offshore federal waters.
The federal funding component was contingent on the land becoming open to the public; and Reed’s family (including wife Mary and children Debora Reed Hudson, Patricia Reed Carter and Ray Reed Jr.) has made cash donations to the Trust that will be used to install walking trails and public parking.
Lost Mountain is the tallest mountain between Kennesaw Mountain and the Cheaha Mountains in eastern Alabama. On a clear day, both the Cheahas (60 miles away) and the Atlanta skyline (30 miles away) can be see easily seen from the crest of Lost Mountain.
Residential development has been creeping up the slopes of Lost Mountain during the past two decades. And the century-old Lost Mountain Store, which for decades was the solitary outpost of commercialism in west Cobb, now has been renovated for use as a bank. It sits a few feet north of its original position along Dallas Highway (S.R. 120) and is just downhill from the gentle southern crest of the mountain. Indeed, some of the mountain’s slopes are so gradual that it can almost “sneak up” on motorists as they approach it on the highway.
But had it not been for The Great Recession, the land in question could well have been dotted with homes by now. Lost Mountain could have met the fate that Kennesaw Mountain dodged. Few now remember that Kennesaw Mountain (then privately owned) was subdivided in the 1920s and homes planned for its crest, akin to what happened to the Lookout Mountain battlefield overlooking Chattanooga. Fortunately, the Great Depression intervened.
AS NOTED in the April 30 edition of Around Town, the acquisition of Lost Mountain for parkland should go far to reverse one of the least visionary decisions made by the Cobb Board of Commissioners in recent years.
That is, after having persuaded the public to (overwhelmingly) approve a $40 million bond issue in November 2008 to buy land for future parks, the commission reversed course and chose not to buy any, claiming that doing so would have necessitated a small tax increase. In the meantime, the Lost Mountain property in question had been ranked as the “most desirable” by the committee set up to determine which tracts to buy.
Fortunately, through a happy twist of fate, most of Lost Mountain is now to be saved and be open to the public. Unfortunately for county residents, the dozen or so other properties around Cobb that likely would have been parks by now are not likely to be so fortunate.