A Georgia lake’s darkish and lethal historical past has some individuals seeing ghosts

A Georgia lake's dark and deadly history has some people seeing ghosts


These and different spooky tales have haunted Lake Lanier, within the foothills of the northern Georgia mountains, for many years.

To many Georgians the big, serpentine lake northeast of Atlanta is a leisure hotspot, widespread for boating and water sports activities. But supernatural lore and concrete legends in regards to the lake have discovered a receptive viewers on social media, the place they’ve discovered legions of believers.

The lake was created within the 1950s by flooding valley communities that contained a cemetery, fueling beliefs that it is cursed. Historians say some unmarked graves and different constructions had been swallowed up by its waters.

More than 200 individuals have died in swimming and boating accidents on the lake since 1994, including to its darkish historical past. And the Netflix drama “Ozark,” which has its personal excessive physique rely, movies scenes on the lake.

The tales about mysterious underwater sightings are eerie — particularly at Halloween. But the true backstory of Lake Lanier, constructed over an underwater ghost city, is simply as attention-grabbing.

The lake was mired in controversy from the beginning

The controversy surrounding the lake, as described by author and historian Lisa Russell, began lengthy earlier than its development.

Before the land was buried in water, it was lush and fertile, with rabbits and squirrels scampering round. Communities thrived, with fancy names like Castleberry Bottom, Russell mentioned.

Then got here the US Army Corps of Engineers, which wished to create a lake to supply Atlanta and surrounding counties with energy and water.

The authorities provided locals cash for his or her farmland. Most of it had been in households for generations, making it virtually not possible to place a price ticket on it, mentioned Russell, a writing teacher at Georgia Northwestern Technical College and writer of several books on the lost towns of North Georgia.
The Army Corps flooded farmland bought from hundreds of families to create Lake Lanier.
“At first, the government assured land owners that they were being paid for the true value of the land and buildings, but residents found it hard to price generations of memories, hard work and deep roots,” Russell wrote in her guide, “Underwater Ghost Towns of North Georgia.” “A host of emotions accompanied the talk of relocation: anger, resentment, fear, anxiety, bewilderment and apprehension. To them, their land was priceless.”
Eventually, some 700 households offered a complete of 56,000 acres to the government, which constructed a dam on the Chattahoochee River to type the lake.

As their land stuffed with water in 1956, locals jammed roads and bridges to observe as historical past vanished earlier than their eyes. Whatever that they had deserted was lined by the the rising waters.

Even the lake’s naming was contentious, Russell mentioned. Some native officers wished to call it after Georgia politicians. Others sought to call it after a legendary soccer coach. Eventually they determined to call it after Sidney Lanier, an 18th-century Georgia poet who wrote “Song of the Chattahoochee.”

Named for poet Sidney Lanier, the lake was built in the 1950s to provide electric power, water and flood protection.

Some households later regretted their resolution as soon as they realized they could not survive on what the federal government provided, Russell informed Source.

But the lake introduced a number of advantages, together with flood safety from the Chattahoochee, which flows west of Atlanta. Today Lake Lanier has about 625 billion gallons of water — the equal of 950,000 Olympic-sized swimming swimming pools.

And they yield mysterious tales.

What lies beneath

To put together the land to be stuffed with water, the Army Corps of Engineers demolished or moved something they thought-about harmful. They uprooted bushes and hauled them away. Barns and wood constructions that might float and endanger watercraft had been moved. Major infrastructure resembling bridges and water intakes had been relocated.

But … the neighborhood had a cemetery. While the Corps recognized and moved marked graves, it is possible that some unmarked ones had been inadvertently left behind, mentioned Cesar Yabor, a spokesman for the US Army Corps of Engineers.

“The technological capability to identify and verify unmarked burial sites through subsurface scanning or other means was far less robust 70 years ago,” Yabor informed Source.

“While the Corps made every effort at the time to locate unmarked burials,” he added, “the limited capabilities of the time make it probable that unanticipated finds of human remains are possible, whether from the antebellum and Civil War periods or of Native American origin from pre-colonial and ancient times.”

Wardens from Georgia's Department of Natural Resources on Lake Lanier in 1961.

An outdated auto-racing monitor close to Gainesville was additionally left behind. It stays on the lake backside, though the Corps eliminated its bleachers so they would not float to the floor and trigger a hazard for boats, Yabor mentioned.

The concrete block foundations of some small buildings additionally had been submerged, Yabor mentioned.

Some individuals have claimed to listen to church bells from a sunken church. But Yabor informed Source that is not attainable.

“No such structure was known to be left behind due to the height issue — if it had a steeple — as well as the floating wood issue,” he mentioned.

Over the a long time, when the lake’s water ranges dropped throughout drought, submerged roads, tire elements and different artifacts have been uncovered, mentioned Russell, the historian.

Russell believes unmarked graves additionally had been left behind as a result of they weren’t simply recognized and there was no household to assert them.

Buford Dam on Lake Lanier in May  2013.

To Russell, the modifications wrought by the human-made lake are scarier than the spooky folklore.

“A haunting is sometimes defined as something that is difficult to ignore or forget — something that is poignant and evocative,” she mentioned.

“The real haunting in this story is how history has made it impossible to ignore what was done to the land in North Georgia,” she added. “Once a land of wild rivers, North Georgia is now broken with dams and human-made bodies of water that changed the ecosystem. Once a land that belong to indigenous people, it is now buried under the water, making recovering of lost culture impossible.”

Watery sightings and the Lady of the Lake

Over the years, divers have reported creepy sightings beneath the murky waters. Some inform tales of freaky catfish as massive as a Volkswagen. YouTube is stuffed with divers showing videos of sunken houseboats and piles of particles.

Between 1994 and October this yr, 203 individuals have died in drownings and boating incidents at Lake Lanier, in keeping with Mark McKinnon of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

In 2017, longtime diver Buck Buchannon told local media that he sometimes felt physique elements within the lake throughout his many excursions. “You reach out into the dark and you feel an arm or a leg and it doesn’t move,” he mentioned.
But that has not affected the lake’s reputation. With about 12 million guests final yr, Lake Lanier was one of many most-visited Corps-built lakes within the nation, mentioned Yabor of the Army Corps of Engineers, which operates 464 lakes in 43 states.
At its peak Lake Lanier has about 625 billion gallons of water. That's the equivalent of 950,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Lake Lanier’s measurement and recognition contribute to the tall tales — and its excessive visitation charge additionally means extra fatalities, Yabor mentioned.

“While we recognize that urban legends can develop over time … first and foremost is our concern for public safety,” he mentioned. “So we certainly do not want to create an inviting atmosphere for the curious to come out to Lake Lanier for urban legend exploration or similar risky acts.”

One of Lake Lanier’s hottest city legends includes a automotive wreck. According to the story, a Ford sedan carrying two women careened off a bridge in April 1958 and tumbled into the lake. Some say the ghost of one of many girls, dubbed the “Lady of the Lake,” wanders the bridge at night time in a blue gown, misplaced and stressed.

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