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Most People Have No Idea There’s An Underwater Ghost Town Hiding Right Here In Georgia

Long before fish made their homes in the beautiful Lake Strom Thurmond, people lived, worked, raised their families, and fell in love all beneath those choppy waters. Petersburg, Georgia is now an underwater ghost town after the Army Corps of Engineers flooded more than 72,000 acres to build what is today called Thurmond Lake. But what’s most fascinating about this underwater ghost town is that it had quite a rich and respectable history. That was, before it was flooded, leaving the city’s ruins underneath the rough waves of the lake.

Petersburg, Georgia was an important upriver market town located in Wilkes County, Georgia. It was initially founded by Dionysius Oliver in 1786, in order to better serve the region of Broad River Valley. The city gained importance within the tobacco industry as well as a source of delicious produce, and quickly became the third-largest city in Georgia, after Savannah and Augusta. Can you believe that?

Petersburg was known to be an active, busy, little commercial town, especially because it was situated in prime real estate in the fork of the Savannah and Broad Rivers. The town itself contained around 10 stores in total, with the usual grog shops and even a billiard-table. The citizens of Petersburg, as most notably documented throughout history, were known as being refined, respectable, intelligent, and hospitable. The town was treated favorably in an early travel guide retrieved from 1801. The document characterized Petersburg as a very beautiful, well-built town which had risen to enchantment throughout the years.

But right when the town was at its peak, the economic engine of tobacco, which is what drove Petersburg, succumbed to the cotton industry. Most of the residents left, however, a few remained until they were eventually forced out. Before the flooding, more than 50 graves and ornate tombstones from the two cemeteries were moved to nearby churchyards—but those were only the graves that they could find. The rest were left to be covered by water.

However, the creepy, yet fascinating part of it all was that in 2002, when the region experienced a sufficient drought lowering water levels of almost 15 feet, the underwater ghost town of Petersburg was exposed once more. It was then that the exposed foundations, fences, old roads, pottery, broken glass, rusty spikes and iron all became visible, allowing many people to glimpse into the life of a town that was once thriving hundreds of years ago.

Pretty neat, huh? I bet you never thought there was a hidden underwater ghost town underneath the famed Lake Thurmond. If you’re interested in seeing some of the remaining foundations of the town, it is said that you can visit Bobby Brown State Park during low water. Otherwise, enjoy this Lake Thurmond drone flyover by YouTuber Clint Braswell, and imagine what was once a thriving city, now resting below the murky water.

What do you think of this underwater ghost town? Did you know it existed? Let us know your thoughts!

Marisa Roman
Marisa Roman is an avid reader, writer, and collector of experiences. She travels the country full time in an RV and writes about her adventures.