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Lake Lanier's dark history: Does cursed 'ghost town' lie beneath the water?

A stilt house filled with partygoers on Lake Lanier crashed into the water on July the Fourth
(Representational image) A group of partygoers were in for a shock when their stil house collapsed into Lake Lanier (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
(Representational image) A group of partygoers were in for a shock when their stil house collapsed into Lake Lanier (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

LAKE LANIER, GEORGIA: Lake Lanier was trending on Twitter on Monday, July 4, when a video of a bunch of people partying at the lake, presumably as part of fourth of July celebrations, surfaced on social media, leading many to wonder about the Lake's little known Black history. The partygoers were drinking, dancing, and making merry when the video catches the horrific moment when the still house starts crashing into the lake.

The lake was in the news on July 6 when two persons were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta on Saturday, July 3, after suffering burn injuries in a boat explosion at Lazy Days Marina, Lake Lanier soon before 5 pm. According to Zach Brackett, division chief for Hall County Fire Services, the cause of the explosion is currently being examined by the Hall County Fire Marshal. The incident took place in the Big Creek Park area on the south end of Lake Lanier, authorities said. The boat had four people, two adults and two juveniles. Lake Lanier has previously been in news for being "haunted" and "full of bodies." The number of people who die there keeps rising. 


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Last year, also during the fourth of July weekend, it was reported that two people had drowned in the lake in two separate instances. Since Lake Lanier was built in 1956, experts say 675 people have died in these waters. Not all of the bodies have been found. This year’s July fourth weekend saw a jump in boating incidents, BUIs, and injuries compared to 2020. Five people were transferred to hospitals, according to data released July 6 by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Gainsville Times reported.


However, Monday's video showed a group of youngsters partying on a stilt house accessed by a pier on the lake which slowly crashed into the lake. In the video, shared by a Twitter handle called 'Everything Georgia', partygoers could be seen having a good time before the stilt house suddenly begins to overturn, leading to a mad scramble amongst the people on it. "Only at Lake Lanier," the post reads.

'Black community paid ultimate price'

Even though around 7 million people visit the lake every year, few know that they are, in fact, swimming above an underwater ghost town. “The real story of Lake Lanier is something that is more dark and more cynical than you’ll ever learn,” Monique Sampson, who teaches American history in Jacksonville, Florida, said in a TikTok video reported by the Daily Dot. “I hope people will learn about the thriving Black community that paid the ultimate price of losing their community simply because the city wanted to build a lake. It is my hope they won’t be forgotten," she said.

According to Sampson, the US Army Corps sought the site in 1957, during which time it had a "thriving" Black community at the time. She shared clips of forestland, farmland, old homes, barns, and a racetrack allegedly surfaced during a drought. “[The Army Corps] drove residents out of the space, demanded that they leave and decided to flood the entire area where the residents were. It was absolutely horrible," she said, adding: “They had all of these different amenities that they built for them, by them. The US Army Corp came in and decided they wanted to build Lake Lanier at the expense of the Black community that was thriving.” 

'Ancestors will pay back misdeed in full'

Lake Sidney Lanier was created in conjunction with Buford Dam in the 1950s by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The initiative was part of a much broader effort to enhance the nation's rivers across the United States following WWII. Even today, concrete buildings, vehicles, bridge pieces, and other debris, even gravesites may be found in some of Lake Lanier's deepest portions, but because the lake is fully filled, the Corps of Engineers believes that these structures are not a danger to lake users, according to Forsyth News.

Robert David Coughlin, a former park ranger and author of 'Storybook Site: The Early History and Construction of Buford Dam', however, says that the idea of an "entire ghost town" sitting beneath the lake is not true and that anything hazardous, that is anything that can float, has been removed before the lake was made, indicating that any concrete buildings or other structures, wells, and heavy metals-related objects were most certainly submerged. Sampson disagrees. “You can’t just flood an entire city of people and think that the ancestors won’t pay back that misdeed in full,” she said. “I believe in karma … a thriving Black community paid the ultimate price.”  

'The water looks evil'

People took to Twitter to comment on the incident. "STOP. GOING. HERE. We have been trying to warn people for years, that place is forever cursed," said a Twitter user. "After all the news and info on this lake, why do ppl still go???" wondered another. "Even the water looks evil," said a third. "Y'all better believe Lake Lanier is haunted by that Black town buried beneath its man-made shores," a fourth said. "Lake Lanier is a death trap and I don't know why y'all keep playing around there like there isn't a whole flooded Black ghost town under the surface!," another added.






'Stop playing with the ancestors'

"Stop playin wit the ancestors," a tweet said. "I truly believe if Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th) was real even he would mess with Lake Lanier," said another. "STOP...People could get seriously hurt, but I guess after drinking for hours, y'all don't give AF!!," a third chipped in. "Every lake dangerous but Lanier is built over a cemetery so y’all best believe some crazy s** will always happen," said a fourth.