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Why some think Georgia’s largest lake is haunted: Local hidden gems


From overlooked roadside attractions to offbeat museums and obscure natural wonders, Local Hidden Gems will showcase some of the unique and unexpected treasures that make America extraordinary. We will emphasize charm, surprise and delight.

Local hidden gem: Lake Sidney Lanier, Georgia

There’s something in the water at Lake Sidney Lanier, a popular recreation spot for locals about an hour outside of Atlanta.

Decades before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flooded the area to create Georgia’s largest lake, it was home to a predominantly Black community called Oscarville.

“After the murder of a white woman in Forsyth County (in 1912), its Black residents had to flee from white terrorists” who blamed them for her death, explained Dr. Paul Grant, an associate professor of Political Science at Georgia Gwinnett College in a Gwinnett County Public Library video on Oscarville.

“Groups of white vigilantes in Forsyth use various methods, including threats and arson, to compel Blacks to leave the county,” chronicles Atlanta History Center. “Newspapers report that white residents burned Black churches and distributed notices encouraging Black residents to flee. They also raided Black homes and damaged the buildings by shooting with rifles and other weapons.”

Local hidden gem: A perfect symbol of resistance in New York

Lake Lanier visitors take a dip on July 22, 2012. Weeks earlier, 11-year-old Kile Glover, Usher's former stepson, was fatally injured at the lake.

Lake Lanier visitors take a dip on July 22, 2012. Weeks earlier, 11-year-old Kile Glover, Usher’s former stepson, was fatally injured at the lake.

“That wasn’t the first incident of a racial cleansing in Forsyth,” added Ronald Gauthier, a Gwinnett County Library branch manager who’s extensively researched Oscarville. “In 1838, the Cherokee Nation, Native Americans, were actually forcibly removed from Forsyth County.”

Both groups were long gone by the time Lake Lanier was constructed in the 1950s, but some people believe the lake is haunted by its past, citing hundreds of people who’ve been hurt or died in lake accidents over the years.

Even so, the lake and its nearly 700 miles of shore remain popular for picnicking, fishing, boating and other water activities, particularly for landlocked locals who would have to drive much further to get to the ocean.

”As a recreation resource, Lake Lanier attracts about eight million visitors a year, with 68 parks and recreation areas, 1,200 campsites, and 10 full-service marinas,” according to Gwinnett County, for which the manmade reservoir is its main water source.

There’s a Margaritaville at Lanier Islands water park. Public beaches and boat ramps also offer various opportunities to get on and in the water, for those who are willing.

Where: The foothills of the Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia

More information: Atlanta History Center

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: The eerie story under Lake Lanier: Visit this local hidden gem

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