"Out of the hills of Habersham, down the valleys of Hall" -- ln 1879 when Georgia poet Sidney Lanier wrote those lines of "Song of the Chattahoochee" he didn't anticipate the series of dams and lakes which would interrupt the 'Hooch as it "hurried a main to reach the plain."
Of course, that river joins the Flint and Apalachicola before it ultimately flows into bay and gulf and ocean. Those waters, as we know, are still in controversy as they flow -- and of course, Lanier could not anticipate that.
Lanier's name was not the only suggested one to designate the lake formed by Buford Dam.
Among the favorites was Atlanta Mayor William B. Hartsfield because he was so influential in seeing that dam built. And he was the one who christened the dam at the dedication ceremony Oct. 9, 1957. Appropriately, he used Coca-Cola bottles filled with water from the three rivers that would eventually reach the plain of which Lanier spoke.
However, a bill to name the lake for Sidney Lanier was introduced by Congressman Phil Landrum and finally passed to become law in April 1956.
Because the dam was a federal public works project, its name must be federally approved. Actually, water to become that lake had begun to fill the reservoir in February of that year when the gates of the dam were closed. It took over three years for Lake Lanier to reach what is considered full pool (1070 ft.), May, 1959.
I got those dates and facts from David Coughlin's book "Lake Sidney Lanier : A Storybook Site," recently published as the updated version of his 1996 history of the Buford Dam construction, and I am looking forward to hearing Mr. Coughlin's presentation on June 6.
His book is filled with hundreds (maybe thousands) of illustrations and pictures which graphically tell a very interesting story. The updated version is especially interesting for those whose families and friends owned property that was purchased because it was scheduled to be covered as the reservoir filled. There are many pages and some pictures of the owners, acreage purchased and price paid. Those owners, as well as Sidney Lanier, also didn't envision all the changes which would result from that inundation.
I hope many of you will join me at the historical society meeting beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the county library, to see Coughlin's presentation.
Helen Taylor's column appears periodically in the Dawson County News.