Buford Dam and Lake Lanier's Early History
In 1946 Army Engineers surveyed a narrow river valley at the boundary of Gwinnett and Forsyth Counties. Colonel Mason J. Young, then South Atlantic Division Chief for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, looked out over the open expanse from one hillside to the next. This site was special and one that had been visited many times before over the years. "This is a storybook site for a dam. I've seen similar sites in the Northeast but there is always a city a few miles away. Here we have the site with no such complications. I don't think I've ever seen a better site for a dam".
Buford Dam and Lake Lanier have come to represent more than a single public works project. They are key links in a series of public works projects constructed to develop the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway as part of a larger goal of bolstering national defense and augmentation of Southern resources. The construction process spanned nearly the entire decade of the 1950s and the reservoir the dam created, Lake Sidney Lanier, has become one of the most popular recreational sites in the United States.
"Picture This" and "From the Archives" will tell the story of the development of the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee, Flint River System from the early 1800s to the sweeping post-war river and harbor legislation of the 1940s; the creation of a line of dams, locks and reservoirs the entire length of the Chattahoochee River; the diverse politics and personalities of the project's early promoters; flood control, navigation, water resources, hydro-power production, and recreation as multiple benefits; the appropriation by Congress of millions of dollars over nearly a decade; acquisition of over 50,000 acres of private land for public use; the ground breaking in 1950; forebay and tailrace excavation, construction of the intake and powerhouse facilities, main earth dam, bridge and highway relocations and construction; Sidney Clopton Lanier's life and contribution; creation of a 38,000 acre lake and the historical landmarks it erased; the dedication in 1957 as well as biographical, appropriations and contractorial data, impoundment process, and property acquisition information.