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Burton Lake, GA

Lake Size: 2,775 Acres
Shoreline Length (Miles): 62 Miles
Deepest Depth: 130 ft
Latitude: 34.8269
Longitude: -83.5551
Lake Level Above Sea Level: 1880 ft (573 m)
Counties: Rabun County

Information: Lake Burton is a 2,775 acre (11.23 km²) reservoir with 62 miles (100 km) of shoreline located in the northeastern corner of Georgia in Rabun County. It is the first lake in a six-lake series called the Tallulah River Watershed that follows the original course of the Tallulah River. The chain begins with Lake Burton as the northernmost lake followed by Lake Seed, Lake Rabun, Lake Tallulah Falls, Lake Tugalo, and Lake Yonah. The lakes are owned and operated by the Georgia Power Company to generate hydroelectric energy for Georgia's largest city, Atlanta. At one time these lakes were the largest producers of electricity in the state of Georgia. Now, they only provide peak power supply. The lake was built in a deep valley located along a 10 mile (16 km) section of the Tallulah River. The Lake Burton Dam was closed on December 22, 1919 and the lake started to fill. The dam is a gravity concrete dam, with a height of 128 feet (39 m) and a span of 1,100 feet (340 m). The spillway is equipped with eight gates 22 feet (6.7 m) wide by 6.6 feet (2.0 m) high. The total capacity at an elevation of 1,866.6 feet (568.9 m) is 108,000 acre-ft (133,000,000 m³), of which 106,000 acre-ft (131,000,000 m³) is usable storage. The generating capacity of the dam is 6,120 kilowatts (two units). Lake Burton is the highest Georgia Power lake in Georgia. Lake Burton gets its named from the town of Burton, which was the second largest town in Rabun County with a population of approximately 200 but now lies below the lake's surface. The town (and the lake) was named after local prominent citizen Jeremiah Burton and was situated along the road from Clayton, Georgia to the Nacoochee Valley. Andrew Jackson Ritchie served as the postmaster for the area for several years. Gold was first discovered in Rabun County where Dicks Creek and the Tallulah River come together and was the reason for the town's founding in the early 1800s. The Lake Burton Fish Hatchery and Moccasin Creek State Park are located on the western side of the lake. The lake is home to several species of fish, including Spotted Bass, Largemouth Bass, White Bass, Black Crappie, Bluegill, Redear Sunfish, White Catfish, Walleye, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Yellow Perch. The residents of Lake Burton are a mix of permanent residents and seasonal vacationers who together make-up the Lake Burton Civic Association, a local organization who goal is to maintain the lake through volunteer clean-ups and other such events. Water storage and use by nearby communities is now a significant function. Lake Burton is the largest of the five reservoirs, and was created by the impoundment of the Tallulah River by Burton Dam's completion in 1919. The Dam is a gravity concrete dam, and the powerhouse was placed into operation in 1927 with a height of 128 feet and a span of 1100 feet. Two hydroelectric generators have provided a capacity of 6,120 kilowatts throughout Lake Burton's history. The whole hydro group's construction is considered to be a major engineering feat for the time, and the Dam and Powerhouse are in the National Engineering Registry. Georgia Power lowers lake levels during winter for shoreline maintenance, except during periods of prolonged drought.
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Fourth of July fireworks at Lake Burton have been an annual tradition for more than 25 years. The fireworks display was begun and continues to be run by a lifelong Lake Burton resident, Hal Rhoad. Though not a Lake Burton Civic Association sponsored event, the July 4th fireworks display is funded by donations from LBCA members. The fireworks are set off the Saturday before July 4 from Billy Goat Island, an island on the south side of the lake. Most people view the fireworks from boats driven near the island.

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