Our lake disappears & reveals a hidden past
A combination of inane national policies requiring millions of gallons of water to be released from Lake Lanier in order to help a certain species of mussel down-river plus a record drought has caused this, the most popular lake in the country, to recede by 19 feet. As distressing as this is for us Georgians, it also has some interesting spiritual parallels. Local pastors can easily illustrate their sermons by talking about what is revealed when we experience a spiritual drought in our lives.
As a record drought continues to take its toll on the lake that supplies more than 3 million residents with water in metro Atlanta, the receding shore line is revealing more than antique beer cans and other assorted garbage.
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.