The Chattahoochee River begins as a spring in the fittingly name "Chattahoochee Gap," little more than a trickle of water at 3200 feet. Over the first 100 miles the river falls almost 2400 feet, forms a major Southeast lake (Lanier) and provides water for millions of Georgians.
Today, in addition to providing drinking water and power in north Georgia the Chattahoochee is a major source of recreation. Fishing, tubing, canoeing, boating, hiking and camping on its banks, shores, and in its watershed are all popular activities.
But the Chattahoochee is also challenged: north of Atlanta, the once pristine condition of the river and its tributaries is being repeatedly intruded upon by the city's sprawling growth, in some cases illegally, and south of the city, the river retains a reputation of being one of the most heavily polluted stretches of river in the country.
Throughout this article About North Georgia publisher Randy Golden looks at the important role the Chattahoochee River played in the history of north Georgia, the geography, geology, hydrology and ecology of this important river, and the unique opportunities of the river that defines the state.
Belton Bridge lies west of U. S. Highway 23 north of Gainesville, Georgia. I parked my car in the messy lot on the east side of the bridge and ventured out on the high-speed road that crosses the Chattahoochee River on this structure. It is truly a dividing point of the river. Looking north the river is a fisherman's paradise, the banks lined with trees, the river deep with a strong current. To the south the river slows and widens. At Belton Bridge the river ceases and becomes Lake Lanier.
The bridge at Belton is the halfway point in our journey; above the bridge the river is young and playful, darting in and out between large rocks, spreading thin over wide shoals. Below the bridge the river creates Lake Lanier along with the Chestatee and other tributaries, flowing out of Buford Dam much wider and fuller than the Chattahoochee that entered the lake 26 miles earlier.
As the river leaves Lake Lanier it takes on a third personality. Tree-lined parks dot the banks that now hold immense riverside homes. For the next 13 miles the river is defined the the chain of parks established in 1978 with the help of President Jimmy Carter -- the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area. Today the green area, one of the finest recreational opportunities in any major American city, faces its most severe problems not from the river but acrid battle of landowners against environmental preservationists.
Finally, the river passes to its death, at least for the next 50 miles downstream. The city of Atlanta so heavily pollutes its waters that the river becomes a wasteland. And according to the city, little can be done to prevent the pollution that costs Atlanta millions of dollars a year in EPA fines.
North Georgia Naturally North Georgia -- it's a natural! From outdoor adventure to our natural history, About North Georgia covers the area with in-depth articles, photos, and insights into those great, little-known "secrets" of the area. Rivers of North Georgia The Chattahoochee River, both Chattooga Rivers, The Etowah River, which Sherman believed to be Georgia's Rubicon ...