Lake Burton, Our Newest Local Dive Site?

Bridge across the Tallulah River, 1905. Today, this bridge is at the bottom of Lake Burton.

In the early 1900s, Georgia Power built a series of four dams along the Tallulah River in Rabun County, along with the Terrora Hydro Plant, bringing hydroelectric power to that part of the state. The subsequent reservoirs are still important to the plant and to the local economy today, but their existence came with sacrifice, including the now submerged Ghost Town  of Burton.

Dolphin Divers ~and history enthusiasts~ Ross McConnell and Jay Cavanaugh are planning to explore Lake Burton and learn all her secrets. (And could Lake Burton become our area’s newest local dive site?)  Jay explains:

“This post is a repository for the photos and items used in the search of the Ghost Town of Burton GA, submerged by the power company almost a century ago. The motivation for this search comes mainly from Ross McConnell and furthered by another friend Rob Divis.

This is our Walk-in site. Many thanks to the owners for allowing us to use their property!

Well, we have been given permission by the owners of lakefront property to enter the lake on Friday Dec the 13th to make our first dives on the Town. We are developing the dive plan now, which includes so far:

  • Gear/equipment selection and testing
  • Emergency procedures at the site, including recall procedures
  • A list of objectives and locations
  • Depths and times, etc.
Thinking this will be the focus area. Easy to see the advantages of a walk-in from this angle.

So far the team consist of two 2-person dive teams and one diver on the surface.

The tactical approach will be to enter heading due west 270 degrees, straight down following the contour until we hit the Tallulah which, according to our resident dive team geologist, should be obvious. Then, we’ll follow the river southward to the Bridge. Once the bridge is located the teams can split up if they chose and head for separate targets.

The Church (

Some of the targets include:

  • The Tallulah
  • The Bridge
  • The Church
  • The Post Office.
A folk art rendition of the town of Burton Ga. (Looking Northerly)

* NOTE: The Church is in the opposite direction of the others. It was located on the West side of the River and up the hill next to the Burton Cemetery. The general location of both can be seen off the Eastern tip of the sandy areas that can be seen from Google Earth on the opposite side of the lake from our walk-in site…huh? ;<)” ~ Jay Cavanaugh

Erv found this one; which unfortunately, lends credence to the rumor some building material did wash down to the dam during the flooding process.


Citizens of Burton (

In the following weeks, look for subsequent posts that follow Jay and Ross on their expedition to the bottom of Lake Burton!

Interested in joining them? Contact Dolphin Dive Center at 706-548-3483 to learn how to get involved!

Read more about the history of Lake Burton HERE.

3 Replies to “Lake Burton, Our Newest Local Dive Site?”

  1. Hello Eric! Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. The dive last Friday was labeled a success, as the logistical bugs were worked out and the divers and surface support teams gathered important information that make it possible to continue with the project. The water temperature was in the low to mid 50s at the surface, and colder as the divers descended. They dove in dry suits, so they were comfortable in the water. The visibility was poor in the shallowest water, but at around 42 ft the green water abruptly became black, and visibility dropped to zero. Divers could not see their gauges or computers, and they were forced to abort the dive.

    I don’t know if there are any actual maps of the town of Burton, but the divers know the general layout based on photographs they possess.

    We plan to do subsequent dives in Lake Burton, though the project timeline has not been finalized.

    As I learn more, I plan to write future blogs on Lake Burton, so please stop by regularly and check for updates!


  2. I was interested in what you found on your dive in Lake Burton GA. Ive been curious since i only live minutes from the lake and plan to dive tbis summer to check it out. Do you know of any maps of the town?

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