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How much do you know about Lake Lanier, local history?
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Time for another little local history trivia quiz. Answers follow:

1. When did serious consideration for damming the Chattahoochee River at Buford begin?

2. Besides flood control, electric power generation, recreation and water supply, what other purposes for the project were proposed?

3. When was ground broken for Buford Dam, and when did Lake Lanier begin to fill?

4. How much did property around the lake sell for when the dam was being built?

5. Lake Lanier was named for poet Sidney Lanier because of his poem, “Song of the Chattahoochee.” What other names were mentioned for the lake?

6. When did the lake fill up, that is, when did it reach full pool?

7. What have been the highest and lowest levels of Lake Lanier?

8. What were the makings of Gainesville’s first official airport, predecessor to Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport?

9. When were women allowed to serve on juries in Georgia?

10. Who was Gainesville’s first police chief?


1. Such a dam had been talked about in the pre-World War II years, the war, of course, delaying any action. A dam in the Buford area was recommended in November 1945 by the Mobile District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In 1946, the federal Rivers and Harbors Board had studied the proposal enough to put the cost at $17.6 million.

2. The original idea was to provide a 9-foot channel in the river south of Columbus to the Gulf of Mexico and from Bainbridge to the gulf. Maintaining navigation in the river system has been a bone of contention between interests in North Georgia and South Georgia, in addition to keeping an adequate flow of fresh water into oyster-producing regions. There even were discussions about making the Chattahoochee navigable between Atlanta and Columbus, thus connecting Georgia’s capital to the Gulf of Mexico.

3. Atlanta Mayor William B. Hartsfield, U.S. Sens. Richard Russell and Herman Talmadge led breaking of ground for Buford Dam March 2, 1950, and the lake began to fill Feb. 1, 1956. Larry Kleckley, who operated a sporting goods store in Gainesville and was president of the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, was the only Hall Countian wielding a shovel at the ceremony.

4. The federal government paid $20 to $40 an acre for land it acquired for the project, including what was inundated and for shoreline, parks and marinas. As Lake Lanier began to fill, prices escalated into the hundreds of thousands of dollars per acre today.

5. Atlanta Mayor William B. Hartsfield and U.S. Sen. Richard Russell, prime movers of the Buford Dam project; Buford, because that was the name of the dam; and American humorist Will Rogers. A joke going around at the time suggested the name for the dam should be that of legendary Georgia Tech football Coach Bobby Dodd, and it would be “Dodd Dam.”

6. May 25, 1959. At the time, full pool was 1070 feet above sea level. Since 1976, full pool is considered 1071.

7. The lowest level after the lake filled was 1,050.79 feet above sea level on Dec. 26, 2007. The highest recorded level was 1,077.15 feet on April 14, 1964.

8. Gainesville bought 50 acres off what was then Candler Road, now Queen City Parkway, and built an airstrip 300 feet wide and 1,800 feet long in 1928. The first planes to use it landed late that year. Previously, planes would land at fairgrounds or other cleared fields. During World War II, the federal government improved it as a naval air training facility, and Gainesville has upgraded it over the years.

9. The first woman to serve on a jury was Mary Bell Tinius in White County in April 1951. The first bill proposed in the legislature to allow female jurors was in 1937. The Georgia Bar Association endorsed female jurors in 1948, but Gov. Gene Talmadge didn’t sign such a law until December 1953.

10. Thomas Newton “Captain” Hanie. Hanie was a native of Pickens County, but settled in Gainesville after serving as a Confederate officer in the Civil War. He became Gainesville police chief in 1873, serving for 20 years before becoming a railroad detective.

Hanie escaped death several times in pursuing criminals, but was wounded only once in numerous gun battles. He died in Gainesville in 1921 at the age of 75.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times.