In the middle part of the 20th century, it was decided the Corp of Engineers would dam up the Chattahoochee River and build a man-made lake, called Lake Lanier, named after the Georgia poet Sidney Lanier who wrote the poem, “Song of the Chattahoochee.” It flows from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico. Some refer to it as “The Hooch.”
As I understand it, Lake Lanier is the largest man-made lake in the United States, covering five counties with a shoreline of 500 miles. I live within a stone’s throw of the lake. I view it, cross it, and use the water, but have actually never been on the lake. If I happened to fall in, I can’t swim, and definitely could not drink it dry. Therefore, it’s just one of those things I enjoy looking at. Nevertheless, for thousands of others into boating and fishing, it provides a great recreation area. Surrounded by many parks and boat docks, Lake Lanier is a huge tourist attraction.
This past year, the severe drought dried up so much of the lake that in the hundreds of inlets, one could see the bottom, and many boats were left high and dry. The recent heavy rains are refilling, but there’s a ways to go before it’s up to its normal capacity.
Aside from the drought, there’s a lot of controversy surrounding the Corp of Engineers potentially letting too much water over the dam to furnish water for other industries in other states, like fisheries. This has curtailed the tourist trade and caused a downturn of business in many areas around the lake. It reminds me of the old adage, “what the government can build up, it can mess up.”
Many towns in Georgia, including Atlanta, receive their water from the Chattahoochee River. Therefore, the drought and water “letting” adversely affected many areas and businesses other than the five counties surrounding Lake Lanier. The beautiful scenery of the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains frames the upper part of the lake. Not only does the river and lake provide the essentials to sustain human and plant life, they provide recreation for hundreds of thousands. As I understand it, it’s the most visited lake in the United States.
Having lived in many other states and countries, with immense beauty and interesting culture, I was happy to return to an area from my childhood. From the desert land out west to the black muck in Florida, I always felt waves of homesickness to return to the Georgia red clay and the beautiful rolling hills with a view of the mountains. Taking trips outside the city into “them thar hills,” is always a spiritual uplift for me. It’s the river, mountains and the red clay that draw me nightly onto those hills.
Let Freedom Ring!