‘Files Of The Unexplained’ Episode 5 “Haunting Of Lake Lanier” Recap

Situated 60 miles north of Atlanta, Georgia, Lake Lanier is one of the largest man-made lakes in the United States. Named after a Georgia-based poet, Lake Lanier draws a number of tourists every year. Despite being a popular recreational spot for tourists, this lake is considered haunted by many locals. Underneath the clear, aqua-blue water lies a history that has led many to believe that this lake is not safe. 


Spoilers Ahead

What’s The Folklore And Legend Of The Lake?

Since the construction of the lake, around 675 people have lost their lives there. More than 200 people have died in the waters since 1994, and this obviously raises the question: is the lake cursed?. In 1958, two housewives named Delia Young and Susie Roberts drowned in the lake after their car skidded off the bridge. Since then, many have reported seeing a “lady in blue dress” roaming around the lake. Delia was wearing a blue dress before her unfortunate death, and it’s said that she has haunted the lake ever since. 


It’s also said that when the lake was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, they built it over unmarked graves of Native Americans. It’s believed that disturbing a Native American burial site can lead to misfortunes, and if we’re to believe the tales, the lake can be considered haunted.

What Happened To Oscarville’s Black Community?

Oscarville is a town where black communities prospered in the early 1900s. In 1912, a series of racist movements and racially motivated riots occurred when a white woman saw a black man standing over her bed. A few days later, 19-year-old Mae Crow was raped and murdered, and the white people were charged against the black community, holding them responsible for the death of Mae. Historian Velma Fann says that the black people were made to leave the town by force. To the white people’s amusement, one of the suspects was hung in the town square and shot. The white people blocked the bridge and asked the black people to swim through the Chattahoochee River. George is the grandson of one of the survivors of the riots. His grandfather, Byrd, lost his first wife and two children in the river. He eventually settled in Gainesville, where he built his life again from scratch, but Oscarville’s memories would haunt him until his death. 


What’s The “Trail Of Tears?” 

The US Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, 1830, which forced many indigenous people of America to leave their native land and relocate to reservations in Oklahoma. Almost 1/4th of the people died on the walk, and the lake was later built on top of this trail. Mae Dean Erb, a Cherokee descendant, describes how the forceful immigration brought the indigenous population to its knees. This trail took at least 15000 lives, and one chief deemed it “The Trail of Tears and Death.” People have reported seeing apparitions of the natives around the lake, and as the body count history suggests, it doesn’t seem unbelievable. 

How Is The Present Situation At Lake Lanier?

Caitlyn is one of the survivors who almost got pulled down to death in the lake. Playing Marco Polo with her family, she felt a hand pulling her down into the water before she was rescued. Caitlyn believes that the lake is haunted, and she’s someone who is surprised by the attention this lake has brought to itself. The more people are told to stay away, the more people flock down here. Social media has spread the legends of the lake beyond America, and there are people who come to Atlanta to just visit this lake. Surviving this water has become a challenge among the youth. The dangers of the lake are unbelievable to many, and the spooky stories attract tourists to come and take pictures around the lake. 


What’s Underneath The Lake?

Richard is a recovery diver at Lake Lanier, and he explains his experiences under the water. He’s possibly the most experienced person who has been inside the lake, and he claims that the lake is not haunted. At the bottom of the lake, there is barely any light; it’s eerie. Richard and his team of divers have found all sorts of things underneath the lake. Chairs, fans, broken door frames—there’s your usual debris. But there are remnants of old bridges and buildings down there too. This lake is based on top of a town, after all, and underneath there are dirt tracks, old dwellings, and a cemetery. On further research, I found that the Gainesville Speedway is on the bottom of the lake to this day. Richard has seen full-grown trees and all sorts of random objects under the lake that make life harder for the divers. 

Is Lake Lanier Really Haunted?

Despite the folklore about the lake, the people who operate on the waters refute the claims of any paranormal activity. A boat operator named David says the drowning happens because people are careless and often don’t follow the safety manuals. It’s not unnatural for drunk and out-of-shape people to drown in the lake if they’re not aware of how deep the water runs. David also points out that in most of the deaths that occurred in the lake, people weren’t wearing life jackets. Richard and his friend Bill have been working as recovery divers in Lake Lanier for decades, and they deny seeing any ghosts or apparitions around the area. Richard calls the lake one of the most dangerous lakes in all of America because of its depth. 


It’s fair to say that when you see the numbers of deaths in the lake, it’s more than unusual. The lake has a dark history behind it where generations of people lost their lives, and that too, even before the lake was built. The white supremacists who drove the black community away had to hand over their land to the government when the lake was built. The countless accidents that keep happening in the lake have even called for a petition to close it down. This infamous lake has caught the attention of people for a long time, and a trip to Georgia might be a great idea if you’re into paranormal activities.

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Aniket Mukherjee
Aniket Mukherjee
Aniket is a literature student pursuing his master's degree while trying to comprehend Joyce and Pound. When his head is not shoved in books, he finds solace in cinema and his heart beats for poetry, football, and Adam Sandler in times.

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