Cheré Dastugue Coen
Southerners love to pose with rocks
People love to stand on or pose by rocks in the South. Maybe it’s because our mountains are tired after years on this earth, resting gently to let the moss grow on their backs as opposed to the majestic heights of the Rocky Mountains to the west with their sharp precipices and mighty peaks. In the South, there aren’t many grand places to perch. (Considering Southerners and their love of hijinks, that could be a good thing.) But life in the South is more like a soft Blue Ridge vista or an Ozark overlook sporting fall colors down a gentle slope.
So when an opportunity presents itself to climb up a dramatic slice of granite and snap a photo, who are we to pass it by?
I hail from the Deep South, a land created by mud deposits of the Mississippi River where rocks are purchased at lapidary shops. You climb on to the roof of your house and see flatland for miles and miles. So naturally, I’m all about shooting a photo of myself on top of Lookout Mountain.
One of the most famous places that have drawn visitors for years is Umbrella Rock on Lookout Mountain above Chattanooga, Tenn. Up to 30 people at a time could pose on the formation with its dangerous appeal — and have! Just past the rock formation lies a steep precipice leading down to the Tennessee River so a photo on top would astonish any family member or friend. Even presidents Theodore Roosevelt and FDR (must be a Roosevelt thing) have visited Umbrella Rock for a photo opp. Of course, today taking one’s photo would be too dangerous so the rock formation is currently off-limits. But in 2016, in honor of the centennial of the National Park Service, selfies were allowed at the famous rock for a price.
You can view a collection of photos taken on Umbrella Rock from 1860 to 1940 by clicking here.
I’m going to end with a couple of my own. My grandparents took my father on a road trip to the Ozarks and visited Pivot Rock and Natural Bridge outside Eureka Springs, Arkansas. When I visited the area, I stopped at the park and gazed upon this rock formation that I knew I had seen before. No, my family didn’t climb on top for their immortal photo — my grandfather would have never allowed it — but they did bring home a photo nonetheless. And guess what? So did I.