Lake Lanier was named after 19th century poet Sidney Clopton
Lanier. He was a Georgia native who was inspired by the beauty
of this area to write the poem, "Song of the Chattahoochee."
Lake Lanier began in earnest in 1950 when some 58,000 acres of
land were acquired for the project. Although mostly rural
farmland, it was no easy task dealing with thousands of
landowners whose land would be flooded by the lake. For the
lake's 540 miles of shoreline, workers cleared 14,000 acres of
forests. During this process buildings along the shoreline were
removed and in some cases even gravesites were relocated to
areas away from the lake. The cost was approximately 45
million dollars. Buildings, trees, and other structures that
would be covered with many feet of water were left standing and
remain so, underwater, today.
Buford Dam began in 1953 and was built of raw earth instead of
concrete to keep costs low. The main dam is 192 feet high and
2,360 feet long. On the west side of the main dam a large
concrete building called the Powerhouse was constructed in a
depression excavated from solid rock. The construction of
Buford Dam and Lake Lanier was essentially completed in 1956,
it took 2 more years for the lake to fill up with water. The
three generators located in the powerhouse can produce a total
of 86,000 kilowatts of clean, non-polluting hydroelectric
power. That's enough electricity to supply 25,000 homes,
however this electricity cannot be stored so it used by demand
usually in the afternoons during peak times.
Counties effected by the lake are
Hall, Forsyth, Gwinnett, Dawson, and Lumpkin counties.