About Seed Lake | History
In July of 1925, construction began on the Nacoochee development (Called Seed by some). It was built between Burton Dam and the headwaters of Lake Rabun to take advantage of a 60-foot drop in the Tallulah River between the two lakes. Due to the mountainous terrain, the Georgia Railway and Power Company, the developers of the project, were unable to construct a temporary railway for the purpose of moving materials and equipment. To overcome this transportation problem, materials and equipment were shipped as far as the Lakemont railway station, then transferred to boats and barges and transported nine miles up Lake Rabun to the construction site. The remains of one of the barges can be viewed during low water time in Uncle Bob’s cove at Linda Minder Dekle’s boathouse. The Nacoochee Dam was completed in mid-1926, forming a 240 acre lake. By November of 1926, the power house was completed and the plant’s two hydro units, with an output of 4,800 kilowatts, were on line. The Nacoochee Development was the last project completed in the North Georgia system by the original Georgia Railway and Power Company. In the construction of the four dams in Rabun County (Burton, Nacoochee, Mathis, and Tallulah), the Georgia Railway and Power Company had constructed miles of wagon roads, built a bridge on top of the Tallulah Dam, and built a bridge across Lake Burton. These water power projects were unique in that they utilized a continuous 28-mile stretch of the Tallulah and Tugalo Rivers. This 1199-foot elevation drop begins at the crest of Burton Dam (the upper dam of 6) and continues to the water in the trail race of the Yonah Development (the last of the 6 dams).
At the time of project completion in 1927, this was the most completely developed stretch of a river in the United States. Engineers from all over the United States and many foreign countries came to North Georgia to view the development. It was stated that the Tallulah Power Plant, with an output of 50,000 kilowatts, could more than satisfy the needs of the entire City of Atlanta.
In the early development of Seed Lake, the roads were constructed. The north side connected Lake Rabun Road with access to Lake Burton (now called Seed Lake Road) and the road around the south side, which crossed at the old railroad construction bridge and went only to the area called Crow Creek (now, Crow Creek Road). As the need for road gravel increased, a rock mining operation was begun at Bad Branch off Crow Creek Road. A rock crusher was installed, and this quarry was used by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late thirties. There were houses on site for the workers. At least one of these houses was moved to a site now in Little Athens off Land Road, by Mr. Vance Davis of Griffin, Georgia.
The early residents of our lake came just a few years after full pond was achieved. Mr. R.D. Osterhout constructed a log cabin in 1929. Mr. Osterhout was Joye Hood Spates’ grandfather and she and Mack have incorporated the log house into their home. Mr. Jake Hutchins and Mr. O.B. Land built summer cottages on the lake in 1933, and the major private land owner on the sort side was a Mr. Benfield (first name unknown).
As summer retreats in North Georgia became more popular, our lake population grew. During the 1930’s, many cottages were constructed. The Stuckey house was built by John B. Wilson of Atlanta; Crawford built the Dr. Heller house; and Mr. Prescott of Atlanta built Prescott Lodge on Flat Creek Road, as well as a lake house on Seed. Other summer residents included Ed McGill of East Point, Mangrum and Reeves, Ed Leake, the Pilchers, the Rhodes, the Grays, Vance Davis of Griffin, and Harold and Estel West. By the 1940’s, given the war and everything, the lake populations continued to climb. Cottages changed hands, and more were constructed. The Phillips of Atlanta built cottages, as did the Lawsons, the Carltons, the Corleys, the Howard McWhorters, Bud Minder, Red Smith, and the Wynns. Bob McWhorter bought from Vance Davis; Kenny Eberhart bought from Tom Daniels, and Miss Fisher built Holly Point.
The lake’s permanent residents included the Taylors on Crow Creek Road, the Graggs in Flat Creek, Georgia Power employees, Mr. Fred Stewart and Red Vandiver. Mr. Emory Blalock and Miss Ellen Taylor operated stores at the head of Lake Rabun on Bear Gap Road. Bill Free’s family, Tom and Sammy Ledbetter, and the J.R. Brooks family lived on Seed Lake Rd. More growth came in the 1950’s and cottages continued to change hands.
The early days of the lake were quiet and peaceful, and the pace of life was very slow. The elders came for relaxation and to quietly entertain friends and neighbors. They would have a barbecue, sit on the patio or screened porch, smoke their pipes, and drink their bourbon and branch. On occasion they would partake of some of the local corn squeezins’ and discuss politics, business, and other things. The sound of an outboard motor was limited to 6 hp on a flat-bottomed john boat. The speedboat was introduced in 1950 when a 22 hp Evinrude was brought to the lake. Some say the peace and tranquility were shattered with the arrival of the speedboat. The elders may have had their doubts, but the younger generation had a great time, aqua-planing, water-skiing, and just running up and down the lake. Prior to the advent of big boats, entertainment was limited to swimming, diving off the dam, parking boats by the dam, and walking down the long flight of steps that led through the dam to Mr. Emory’s or Miss Ellen’s store to buy treats, veggies, or butter (pronounced “budder”). Miss Ellen’s hand-churned butter, with a four-leaf clover on the top, was always the best. Corn, beans, and other staples were readily available. Mr. Emory was a big man and he was very nice to the kids–if he had not had too much of his corn liquor. If he was into the corn, it was best to stay clear!
The beauty of the lake and tranquility of the area were often interrupted by the production of corn liquor. One would see the gray whiff of smoke rise above the pines, and as the cooking vapor was turned back into a liquid, the loud banging and thumping barrel could be heard for miles.
The weekends were looked forward to with the anticipation of fun and good times. Daytime on the lake was followed by a trip to Mountain City after supper and clean-up…for the square dance. Often there would be a short pause at Hall’s Boathouse and Rabun Café before heading to Mountain City. These great times with friends will never be forgotten. The walks along Crow Creek Road to the many sites of nature like the old rock quarry and Bad Branch Falls, the drive up Still Road, and the sight of the many beaver ponds constructed by Mother Nature’s busy little workers on Crow Creek were all reasons that the adults came to the lake and built summer retreats. The reason that the kids came were obvious! The boys came for the girls and the girls came for the boys!
Our lake, Seed Lake, the smallest of the six lakes on the Tallulah River, has always been a family lake. We have always worked together, played together, helped each other when it was needed, and established long-term friendships which have lasted a lifetime. Some families have been coming to the lake for five generations: The Phillips/Phillips/Fleetwoods and the Osterhout/Hoods/Spates have established a legacy. There are numerous families that go back three and four generations, and hopefully the new families to our lake will carry on the tradition that has become the legacy of the lake.
Compiled by Howard McWhorter, Jr., April, 1999