It is also offering a glimpse of how the people who made their homes here decades ago once lived.
An abandoned stretch of Georgia Highway 53 sits along one edge of the lake, consigned to the deep by state planners when Lanier was built. Foundations of long-forgotten buildings dot shorelines. Elsewhere in the vast expanse of exposed lake bed, a still intact one-lane road with faded yellow lines peeks out from the mud.
Outside Gainesville’s Laurel Park, the concrete foundation is a remnant of what once was the Gainesville Speedway, a popular dirt racing track that was submerged when the federal government created the lake in the 1950s.
Some 700 families were moved then to make way for the new reservoir. Contractors demolished homes, farms and other buildings to clear the way for the construction of the Buford Dam.
Now, after being hidden for decades, the places left behind — and everything from boat batteries to entire sunken boats — are in sight again as the water retreats. The volume of debris that’s turned up alongside the old landmarks has distressed many of the lake’s more recent settlers.
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