Classic: Lake Hartwell's history

Call it a change of occupancy. Gone are the textile mills, the horse-drawn carts packed with market goods and all the ambient glow of a once-bustling town known as Andersonville. In its place, a healthy population of largemouth and spotted bass that’ll challenge and reward the field of 52 who’ll soon seek to unlock Lake Hartwell’s secrets during the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods.

Settled around 1800, Andersonville was named after Revolutionary War veteran Robert Anderson and once boasted the reputation of a well-known port and resort town that included a barge system with daily routes to Savannah. By the time construction on the Hartwell Dam began in 1955, the town had already dwindled considerably, due in large part to its being bypassed by the railroads.

Four years after the dam’s completion in 1959, the Hartwell impoundment flooded Andersonville’s remnants. Today, only the time-beaten roads and crumbling ruins of the 400-acre Andersonville Island (near Portman Marina, buoys LBC1 – LBC9 and S1 – S13) hint of a town’s existence. Infinitely more prominent, of course, is that famous lake maker, so let’s check out the key details.

The dam

Authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1950 and built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, this 12,400-foot hydroelectric dam stands seven miles below the point at which the Tugaloo and Seneca rivers unite to form the Savannah River.