Lake History


Lake Sidney Lanier is formed from Buford Dam over the Chattahoochee River northeast of Atlanta. The lake is in Hall and Forsyth Counties. The dam was constructed and the lake filled in 1956. Lake Lanier covers 39,000 acres and has 692 miles of shoreline.

Named for American poet Sidney Lanier, it was built and is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for flood control and water supplies. It is patrolled by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GDNR), as well as local law enforcement.

The states of Georgia, Alabama and Florida all have rights to the water of the reservoir, as it feeds rivers going through those areas. The Corps of Engineers has responsibilities to regulate flow for flood control and water use. In addition, it has to ensure that water is available to fulfill such federal mandates as under the Endangered Species Act, to support downstream species. The rapid suburbanization of the Atlanta region, in particular, has greatly increased water consumption by private homeowners for lawns and gardens. During droughts of the 21st century, Lake Lanier reached record lows, and regional actions have been needed to reduce area water usage.

The lake is popular with boaters, houseboats, jetskiers and others, particularly around the summer holidays. Over 7.5 million people per year visit the lake, including its marinas and the Lake Lanier Islands waterpark. The rowing and sprint canoeing events during the 1996 Summer Olympics were held at the lake. It also hosted the canoe sprint World Championships in 2003 at the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club.

Lake Lanier has over 90 Corps, State, County and City parks spread around its 680 miles of shoreline, 23 of which provide swim beaches. All of these parks are accessible by land and some by water and most have other amenities such as picnic areas, restrooms, boat ramps and playgrounds for the kiddies. There are also dozens of beaches on Lake Lanier that are on islands located all over Lake Lanier.[12]

One resort hotel sits on the lake: Legacy Lodge (Formerly Emerald Pointe Hotel). A second hotel, Pine Isle was recently demolished. Both were sold by CNL Hotels & Resorts, a hotel investment firm in Florida, to Georgia businessman Virgil Williams. Both assets sit on a ground lease from the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority which in turn leases the land from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Established in 1957, Holiday Marina has become synonymous with Lake Lanier. Holiday Marina in Buford, Georgia, and Aqualand Marina near the town of Flowery Branch, are two of the largest freshwater marinas in the world.

Lake Lanier was the site of the 1997 Bilderberg conference.

Every year from mid-November through January, Lake Lanier Islands are decorated with over 6 miles (9.7 km) of Christmas lights, the largest animated light show in the southeast and one of the world's largest light shows.[citation needed] Magical Nights of Lights is an animated drive-through display that ends with a Christmas village, carnival rides, bonfire, Santa Shop, live nativity, etc.

Lake Sidney Lanier info:


Full pool: 1071.00 feet MSL

Flood pool: 1081.00 feet MSL

Record High: 1077.2 feet MSL (April, 1964)

Record Low: 1050.79 feet MSL (December, 2007)