Monday, September 4, 2017

Great Lakes of North Georgia

With summer winding down many still look to the cooling waters & recreation opportunities of North Georgia’s lakes. There are many to choose from, in fact too many to cover in a single report. Here we discuss the “the majors”, those over 100,000 acre-feet. For landlubbers out there, acre-feet measure water volume - surface area times depth.

In order of size:

Clarks Hill
Richard B. Russell

Let the record show that we take exception to certain North Georgia lake issues:

We recognize Lake Lanier to be Georgia’s largest. That is because Hartwell, only 30% larger than Lanier, is split with South Carolina.

Clarks Hill Lake is also shared with South Carolina. In 1987 they tried to rename it J. Strom Thurmond something or other. We do not acknowledge any such change, nor do most right minded people, because Strom Thurmond ain’t from North Georgia.

Take that, South Carolina.

Purists try to call Lake Allatoona Allatoona Lake. Whatever. It’s a lake named Allatoona.

Now that we’re clear on the above, let’s move on.

Six of North Georgia’s nine largest lakes are owned or operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The exceptions, Oconee, Sinclair & Burton, are owned by the Georgia Power Company.

Lake Hartwell, covering 65,000 acres, is one of the largest in the southest. It is also one of the most visited Corps lakes in the US.

Lake Sidney Lanier is a major recreation outlet for metro Atlanta and primary water source to Georgia. An estimated 7.5 million people visit Lanier each year.

Lake Richard Russell has an entirely undeveloped shoreline due to restricted private use of surrounding public land. It outflows into the Savannah River, which feeds Clarks Hill Lake 45 miles to the south. Some claim Clarks Hill to be the largest man-made lake east of the Mississippi. Per the list above, it all depends on who is measuring what.

Lake Oconee & Sinclair lie against the backdrop of the Oconee National Forest. They are fed by the Apalachee River and connected by the Oconee.

Carters Lake is Georgia’s deepest at over 450 feet. Created by the tallest earthen dam east of Mississippi, its shoreline is entirely undeveloped.

Lake Allatoona, also a favorite of Atlantans, is fed by the Etowah River and is the oldest Corps Lake. Red Top Mountain State Park, Georgia’s largest, lies on Allatoona shores.

Lake Burton is the first and largest of the Georgia Power lakes, connected to several smaller lakes that generate power to metro Atlanta.

As with other broad North Georgia topics, later we will revisit and take a closer look at certain lakes to reveal their distinct character. Until then, one would do well to visit one or more of these great resources and enjoy all they have to offer.

US Army Corps of Engineers
Georgia Power Company