Now that the quiet, secluded and beautiful Meadow Grounds Lake is drained, and soon the surrounding gamelands likely will be closed to the public, it is important to remember what we had if we are to work to get it back. There is no place like it.
This lake’s site is perched in a high valley between two ridges of the Appalachian Mountains, at 1,490 feet above sea level. Being at the shore of the lake or floating on its surface brought one close to the open sky, rimmed by the ridges all the way around, except for the southern end, where the water leaving the lake tumbles down a narrow gorge over a series of waterfalls in a narrow gorge. The water plunges down its narrow canyon, falling almost 800 feet in less than a mile before Roaring Run joins another creek below. A trail is prepared for hikers to enjoy the falling water. All this is unique and special, unknown elsewhere in the state.
The twin ridges join to the north. These ridges are at the center of a geologic structure called a syncline, a sort of valley of the rocks, with hard sandstone eroding more slowly than the limestone and shale beds above and below the sequence laid down hundreds of millions of years ago. Originally laid flat at the bottom of a warm, shallow sea, the rocky layers have been compressed and folded ... wrinkled, really ... into the series of hard ridges and softer valleys where we have made our homes in Fulton County. Beneath the lake, the rocks are likely level, to the east and west they are slanted inward toward the center of the lake’s valley.
The lake and the surrounding gamelands were rich with fish, aquatic birds, and many forms of wildlife. These have lost their homes for now. Sportsmen came to fish and hold tournaments ... these are for now only memories.
The lake has been a very quiet place over the decades we have known since its construction an the 1960s. Few outsiders were aware it was there. Perhaps that is why it got drained, at least an important part. Other lakes in other parts of the state have been drained, and through local organizations working with the state agencies that control the use of the public land we all share together, eventually restored. Let us hope we can find a way to stay together and work together to make sure we get Meadow Grounds Lake back!
If you use Facebook there is a page with photos and other information and comments on the lake ... search for “Friends of Meadow Grounds Lake.” Several local citizens have Web pages of their own with lots of input from the people who love the lake. And there are Web sites with great photos of the scenery and wildlife. Appreciate what we have lost so that we can again appreciate it in person.
Jack Hendricks resides in Fulton County. He is a farmer, geologist and active member of the Fulton County Democratic Club.