Lake Lanier, GA
The State of Georgia’s largest lake, Lake Lanier extends for some 38,000 miles, with roughly 700 miles of breathtaking shoreline. It is situated within the rolling, grassy foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is just 60 miles from the city of Atlanta. Shared by the three neighboring states of Alabama, Florida and Georgia, Lake Lanier’s shoreline borders five counties: Hall, Forsyth, Dawson, Gwinnett and Lumpkin. The construction of Lake Lanier was completed in 1957, with the creation of Buford Dam by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the south end of the lake.
The lake is fed by the waters of the Chestatee River, and the Chattahoochee River, upon which the dam was built. It serves multiple purposes, including flood control, hydroelectricity, navigation and a source of water supply. The lake was named in honor of the American poet Sidney Lanier, in remembrance of the tribute he gave to the Chattahoochee River in his poem, titled, "The Song of The Chattahoochee". This man-made reservoir boasts a chain of islands that were originally large hills before the lake was established. Lake Lanier is also known for hosting the rowing and sprint canoeing events during the 1996 Summer Olympics.
The first inhabitants in the North Georgia Mountains were the Cherokee Indians. They established a rich culture of farming the floodplains of the rivers and streams in the watershed of Lake Lanier, which historically yielded abundant harvests. In the early 1800s, settlers flocked to homesteads in the rolling hills, pushing the Cherokee Indians farther and farther westward. The Gold Rush of 1828, with the discovery of gold near Dahlonega, Georgia, in part, helped to largely hasten the flow of settlers into the Lake Lanier region. The ultimate removal of the Cherokees from Georgia by the federal government came in 1838, and their subsequent relocation to a reservation in Oklahoma cemented the way for settlers to take their land.
Lake Lanier supports a diversity of plant and animal life that include birds, such as the Canada goose, bald eagle, belted kingfisher, wood duck and Great Blue Heron; aquatic mammals including beaver, muskrat and river otter; and a variety of fish species, including pond slider, bluegill, spotted and largemouth bass and yellow perch. There is an overwhelming diversity of plants along the lake's path, such as cattail, pickerel weed, sweetgum, American holly, red maple, red maple and cardinal flower.
With more than forty-five parks and 10 campgrounds lining its shores, Lake Lanier is a great location for boating, camping, canoeing and kayaking, fishing, golfing, hiking, hunting, swimming, wakeboarding and waterskiing.
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