During an extreme drought in 2001, visitors to the popular Lake Lanier noticed something strange about the lake. The waters had receded so much that concrete pillars and strange structures began to appear from the depths of the lake. At first it was the tops of old mills, then bridges, buildings, and even cars emerged from the murky waters. The drought had uncovered something many had never known or long forgotten. There was a city under the water.
Lake Lanier is a manmade lake. In 1951, construction of the Buford dam, which would create the lake, began. It was a project funded by the government in an effort to supply water to 3 million people in the Atlanta area. Construction of the dam concluded in 1956. During those years over 700 families were displaced from the area, which has since become Lake Lanier.
Slowly over the years the artificial lake began to fill, consuming small towns like Oscarville, once located in the area. The structures that can be seen are actually a collection of small towns, rather than one city. Some of the famous structures now located under Lake Lanier include: Laurel Park, Looper Speedway, Chattahoochee Park, as well as another lake, Lake Warner.
The lake finally reached its full capacity in 1959, which is 211 feet deep and covering 39,000 acres. The total cost of the project was $45 million; and it is estimated that Buford Dam has produced over $95 million in electricity since 1957.
Many, things have been uncovered in the waters of Lake Lanier; the aforementioned mills, buildings, cars, and yes, even bodies. All contribute to the legacy and lore that surround its shores. So if you find yourself boating along this immense lake during a hot Alabama summer- remember to mind the city underneath your feet.