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Posted on: August 31, 2021

Lake Lanier: Gainesville's crown jewel

Editor’s Note: To celebrate the City of Gainesville turning 200 years old on Nov. 30, 2021, Gainesville Georgia Government is sharing interesting highlights from its centuries-old history. This is the ninth installment in a series, which will be featured monthly through November 2021 on gainesville.org and social media. For August, we present to you information on the crown jewel of Gainesville: Lake Sidney Lanier. Information compiled below is shared from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website and onlyinyourstate.com, among other sources.

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (Aug. 31, 2021) – If you live in the state of Georgia, chances are you've heard of Lake Sidney Lanier.

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lake Lanier one of the United States' most popular U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-owned lakes holds the title of largest lake in Georgia. Lake Lanier is also one of the most popular lakes in the Southeast, and for good reason.

Recreational appeal

Lake Lanier attracts up to 10 million visitors each year. With more than 690 miles of shoreline, the lake is well known for its aqua-blue colored water, spectacular scenery and unique recreational activities.

With 76 recreational areas, including 40 Corps-operated parks and campgrounds, 10 marinas and Lake Lanier Islands, Lake Lanier has something for everyone. Activities available at the lake include boating, camping, fishing, hiking, picnicking, swimming and watersports. Boat ramps, hiking trails and picnic shelters are conveniently located around Lake Lanier to make your trip enjoyable. And with more than 100 small islands surrounding the lake, there is plenty of opportunity for adventure!

Remaining areas are leased to organizations and local governments, including the City of Gainesville – one of the largest cities surrounding Lanier. In addition to Hall, the lake also borders Forsyth, Dawson, Gwinnett and Lumpkin counties, making it extremely accessible for many.

Pretty, but with purpose

In addition to supplying water, Lake Lanier was constructed by the Corps to manage navigation and flood control from the Chattahoochee River.

It's one of 464 lakes in 43 states constructed and operated by the Corps, and has won the Best Operated Lake of the Year award in 1990, 1997 and 2002.

Lake Lanier is a multi-purpose lake authorized for flood protection, power production, water supply, navigation, recreation, and fish and wildlife management.

Lake Lanier Olympic Park + 25th anniversary of the '96 Olympic Games

Lake Lanier Olympic Park was built for the rowing and canoe/kayak competitions during the 1996 Summer Olympics. The original timing tower remains today and is the last remaining venue from the Olympic games that continues to be used for its original purpose.*

In addition to the Olympic Tower Plaza and Olympic Park Boathouse, park amenities include picnic areas, a public beach, public boat launch and courtesy dock areas. Learn more here.

*Information shared from lakelanierolympicvenue.org.

Lake Lanier's history

If you've heard of Lake Lanier, you've also probably heard stories related to its history.

It's no secret a collection of communities lie at the bottom of the lake. Reportedly, one of those towns was Oscarville, established in 1870 as a farming town. To build Lake Lanier, the U.S. government purchased more than 50,000 acres of farmland, and more than 250 families, 15 businesses and 20 cemeteries were relocated. Many of the buildings and roads flooded out during the lake’s creation were left as is. At the bottom of Lake Lanier, one can find intact roads, walls and houses. But if you want to see remnants of the past above water, you only have to look at the horizon. The "islands" that grace this beautiful lake are actually the hilltops of those farms.

To learn more about Gainesville, visit gainesville.org or "Like" and follow the following City-managed social media pages: @GainesvilleGeorgiaGovernment, @DowntownGainesvilleGA, @ExploreGainesville, @gainesvillegeorgiafire, @GainesvilleParkandRec, @GainesvillePoliceGeorgia and @LakeLanierOlympicVenue.

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