Spooky tales have haunted Lake Lanier, in the foothills of the northern Georgia mountains, for decades.
To many Georgians the large, serpentine lake northeast of Atlanta is a recreational hotspot, popular for boating and water sports. But supernatural lore and urban legends about the lake have found a receptive audience on social media, where they’ve found legions of believers.
The lake was created in the 1950s by flooding valley communities that contained a cemetery, fueling beliefs that it’s cursed. Historians say some unmarked graves and other structures were swallowed up by its waters.
But what about all the strange and mysterious deaths associated with the lake? More than 200 people have died in swimming and boating accidents on the lake since 1994.
Before the land was buried in water, it was lush and fertile, with rabbits and squirrels scampering around. Communities thrived, with fancy names like Castleberry Bottom, Russell said.
Then came the US Army Corps of Engineers, which wanted to create a lake to provide Atlanta and surrounding counties with power and water.
The government offered locals money for their farmland. Most of it had been in families for generations, making it almost impossible to put a price tag on it.
Eventually, some 700 families sold a total of 56,000 acres to the government, which built a dam on the Chattahoochee River to form the lake.
As their land filled with water in 1956, locals jammed roads and bridges to watch as history vanished before their eyes. Whatever they had abandoned was covered by the the rising waters.
They did clear out anything deemed dangerous like big trees and such, they rerouted all water intakes and bridges. But … the community had a cemetery. While the Corps identified and moved marked graves, it’s likely that some unmarked ones were inadvertently left behind.
“While the Corps made every effort at the time to locate unmarked burials,” “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.”
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.
Over the decades, when the lake’s water levels dropped during drought, submerged roads, tire parts and other artifacts have been exposed.
Over the years, divers have reported creepy sightings beneath the murky waters. Some tell stories of freaky catfish as big as a Volkswagen. YouTube is filled with divers showing videos of sunken houseboats and piles of debris.
Between 1994 and October this year, 203 people have died in drownings and boating incidents at Lake Lanier, according to Mark McKinnon of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
One of Lake Lanier’s most popular urban legends involves a car 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 the women, dubbed the “Lady of the Lake,” wanders the bridge at night in a blue dress, lost and restless.
But that has not affected the lake’s popularity. With about 12 million visitors last year, Lake Lanier was one of the most-visited Corps-built lakes in the nation.
Believe what you want, I don’t think I’ll be visiting Lake Lanier any time soon. Swim at your own risk right?