These Recreation Photos of Rock City Will Make You Smile

then and now recreation photo in rock city

(images courtesy of Gary and Carol Cox)

A photographer took his mother to Rock City for recreation photos, and the results are amazing

Gary and Carol Cox travel anywhere they can get a good photo. So when Gary came across old photos of his mother, Maxine Cox, in Rock City from the late-1950s, he saw a unique opportunity to do a then-and now-recreation. The family packed their bags and traveled from their home in Horn Lake, Miss., to Lookout Mountain, Ga. “If you look at Rock City today, everything pretty much looks just the same as it did back in the 50s,” said Gary.

Gary and Carol Cox love traveling and taking photographs. So, when they saw an opportunity for recreation photos in Rock City, Gary convinced his mother to go with him and pose for a few photos. The photos were taken in the late 1950s and then in 2011. The results became cherished memories that he graciously shared with

then and now recreation photo inside rock city tennessee
Maxine Cox at Rock City in Lookout Mountain, Ga., then and now (late-1950s, left; 2011, right) (images courtesy of Gary and Carol Cox)

Where is Rock City?

Rock City is on the outskirts of Chattanooga, Tenn., a little over 100 miles from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Located on top of Lookout Mountain, Rock City is known for its ancient rock formations, gardens and the famous “See 7 States” panoramic view.

“We thought, this is a great idea to go back and do a then and now photo, because, you don’t think about it back then that 50 years later you might go back and retake the same picture,” says Gary. “With her in it, it makes it more special.” The recreation photos were taken in 2011.

a then and now recreation photo in rock  city near chattanooga tennessee
Maxine Cox at the “Fat Man Squeeze” in Rock City, then and now (late-1950s, left; 2011, right) (images courtesy of Gary and Carol Cox)

Traveling with a love for photography

Gary and Carol enjoy traveling to places where they can hone their craft. “We don’t do it for a living, but we’re serious photographers,” says Gary. “Everything is about photography. If we can’t take a picture of it, we don’t go.”

Their favorite places to travel include Alaska, Branson, Mo., and Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Gary says his mother didn’t really understand why he wanted to go back and retake the photos at the time, but she was happy to go along for the journey. Maxine grew up in Humboldt, Tenn., and worked as a secretary at a bank and then at a high school.

rock city in the 1950s
Rock City, circa late-1950s (photo courtesy of Gary and Carol Cox)

Interesting differences between then and now

Gary noted he occasionally would do photography for the local dinner shows as well. He enjoys documenting all the little moments so he can go back and look at how much has changed. “I’m always looking for taking a photo that no one else has,” he says. In the case of these photos, it’s more about how much has remained the same. He notes that Rock City has not changed much over the years, besides a rail or two for added safety measures.

Gary also mused that people would dress up a lot more back then compared to the present day. “Back then, people would dress up,” says Gary. “Back in the day, people would be in suits even if they were at the beach.”

Have you ever done a recreation photo set like this one? Let us know in the comments below. And for more information about Rock City, visit

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