Rock City Educational Resource Guide
Follow the links below for a specific portion of the History section.
Before it was a tourist attraction, the area where Rock City is located
was the home of Native Americans. A missionary to the Native Americans
named Reverend Daniel S. Butrick made an entry into his journal in 1823. In his entry he states, “I ascended Lookout Mountain to visit a citadel
of rocks.” No doubt he is referring to what is now known as Rock City
During the Civil War a Union officer made a diary entry saying that one could see seven states from the summit at “the Rock City.” A Confederate nurse made the same speculation in her own diary. In the latter part of the 1800’s Rock City was known to hikers and geologists but was not a tourist attraction.
• In 1924 Garnet Carter took part in developing a community called
Fairyland atop Lookout Mountain.
• Carter created the world’s first miniature golf course atop Lookout
Mountain because the community’s golf course was taking a long time
to be built.
• Carter franchised his “Tom Thumb Golf” all over the United States.
• Frieda Carter wanted to develop her homestead at the Rock City.
She took a ball of string and marked a trail winding through the
giant rock formations all the way out to Lover’s Leap.
• Garnet Carter liked Frieda’s idea so well that he helped her, and
Rock City Gardens was born.
Rock City Gardens was opened to the public on May 21, 1932 but was not a huge success. Rock City was very hard to find on top of Lookout Mountain. Garnet Carter hired a sign painter named Clark Byers to paint signs on the roofs of barns. The slogan SEE ROCK CITY was born. The barns told the mileage to Rock City, the best highway, or some simply bore the slogan. The signs could be found as far north as Michigan and as far west as Texas. By the end of the 1930’s the signs paid off, and more people than ever visited Rock City Gardens.