Lake Hartwell, Lake Hartwell Georgia

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Lake Hartwell, Lake Hartwell Georgia


The Lake Hartwell region abounds in historical lore, much of it inherited from the Cherokee Indians who once roamed here and from the early settlers who pioneered the area. Many local streams, rivers and recreation areas bear colorful Indian names. Some streams allegedly were named by Issaqueena, a young Indian maiden who rode to Fort Ninety-Six to warn settlers of an impending attack. On her journey, she marked her travel by naming the streams that she encountered for the number of miles she had covered. The story of Issaqueena accounts for the names of Six-Mile, Twelve-Mile, Twenty-Three Mile and Twenty-Six Mile creeks which are part of the lake today.

Before and during the Revolutionary War, the region was a hotbed of anti-British activity. Nancy Hart, for whom Hart County, Ga., Hartwell, Ga., and Hartwell Dam and Lake subsequently were named, was renowned for her heroic exploits on behalf of the Patriot cause.

Hartwell Dam is located on the Savannah River, 89 miles above Augusta, 67 miles above Thurmond Dam and 7.1 miles below confluence of Senaca and Tugaloo Rivers. The lake was designed and built for flood control and to provide a constant supply of water for all those downstream on the Savanah River. The dam is also used as a hydroelectric facility to generate power during peak demand times, thus helping to give local residents low cost electricity.

The Hartwell Dam was built as a result of the U.S. Army 2nd Corps of Engineers Flood Control Project. The entire project comprised 76,450 acres of land and water and cost over $89 million. The Hartwell Dam was constructed from 1955 and 1963 as part of a flood control and hydropower project, . The dam was built as a result of the U.S. Army 2nd Corps of Engineers Flood Control Project. The Lake  Hartwell Power plant is a “peaking power plant” - this means that power is not constantly generated. Instead, power is generated at times when electricity is in the greatest demand. The dam rises 204 feet above the streambed. Extending 49 miles up the Tugaloo and 45 miles up the Seneca at normal pool elevation, Lake Hartwell covers nearly 56,000 acres of water with a shoreline of 962 miles.

Lake Hartwell Dam is built of more than 880,000 cubic yards of concrete (enough to build a sidewalk from the dam to San Francisco) and more than 3 million pounds of reinforcing steel. The depth of the lake behind the dam is approximately 180 feet. The top of the dam is 204 feet above the Savannah River Bed. The Hartwell Dam and Lake has prevented over $13.7 million in flood damages since 1962.

Geographically, Hartwell Lake is located in the upper Piedmont although its northern reaches extend into the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Because of this location, there are wide differences in soil, terrain, climate, and vegetation resulting in highly diverse wildlife habitats. These include aquatic, marsh, old field, pine-hardwood, and mixed pine-hardwood habitats which are the home for over 250 species of birds, 40 species of mammals, and numerous aquatic, reptilian, and amphibian species.

At Hartwell Lake there are approximately 25 species of birds and several species of mammals that use tree cavities for nesting sties. However, there is a shortage of these sites because many snags and dead trees have to be cut down for safety purposes. To offset this shortage, the Corps has erected more than 125 nesting boxes in selected locations around the lake. These artificial cavities are used by bluebirds, screech owls, chickadees, wood ducks, flying squirrels and many other species.

The lake is located in two states, Georgia and South Carolina, involving 6 counties Hart, Franklin, Stephens Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens Counties.

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