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Jul. 17, 2018
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What’s in a name? The islands of Lake Lanier

By Pamela A. Keene
 
Just about everyone who regularly boats on Lake Lanier can identify “Three Sisters” just off the channel across from Big Creek, but did you know that there are about 160 other islands within the 38,000 acres of the lake? 
 
According to several sources, including the US Army Corps of Engineers, other than Lanier Islands, the nearly 1,000-acre resort, there are other named islands that range from less than 1.5 acres to nearly 150 acres in size. 
 
A list appeared several years ago in a Gainesville Times article, citing the Corps as the source. It listed the following:
 
• Lake Lanier (resort), 956 acres
• Three Sisters, 148 acres
• Big Junction, 138 acres
• Nix, 109 acres
• Four Mile, 95 acres
• Taylor Creek, 62 acres
• Keiths Bridge, 55 acres
• Lights Ferry, 52 acres
• Flat Creek, 22 acres
• Wilderness Isle, 21 acres
• Little Ridge, 20 acres
• Chatt. Country Club, 19 acres
• Gaines Ferry, 15 acres
• Pirate's Adventure, 15 acres
• Latham, 14 acres
• Browns Bridge, 13 acres
• Little Junction, 13 acres
• Robinson Crusoe, 6 acres
• Holiday on Lanier, 1 acre
 
As for how many of these islands got their names, the best guess is that they are named for nearby landmarks that may have even existed before the lake was created in the late 1940s. Some are  obvious, but others, such as Pirate’s Adventure and Robinson Crusoe remain a mystery. 
 
By the way, Pirate’s Adventure is located near the dam near the intersection of Forsyth, Gwinnett and Hall counties. Robinson Crusoe’s Island, marked at 5SC by lake markers, is tucked close to Lanier Islands near the beginning of the entrance to Margaritaville at Lanier Islands.
 
According to Russ Lundstum with the Corps of Engineers, some island names were official as of the 1987 master plan, the most recent. 
 
Lundstrum said that the stories of how many of the islands were named have in many cases been lost. “I remember a conversation with Erwin Topper when he told me that Bolding Mill Park was called Bolling Mill for a while because a young USACE cartographer misspelled it when the plans were being laid out,” he said. “The Bolding name came from a local World War II veteran, and the Bolding family petitioned for the correction on all our publications and maps. 
 
“Now, if you want to expand this islands article, the parks for stories of their own,” he said. “Old Federal Campground is named for the Old Federal Road trade route from the early 1800s and Vanns Tavern is named for Cherokee Chief James Vann.”
 
The Corps of Engineers is currently updating the lake’s Master Plan, the first time since 1987.

Posted online 6/29/18
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