Lake Harding covers 5,850 acres and has a shoreline of 156 miles, spreading along a 13-mile section of the Chattahoochee River. The lake was created by the Bartlett’s Ferry Dam. The dam stands 120 feet high and is 1,900 feet wide. Bartlett’s Ferry personnel manage all the operating functions at Goat Rock, Oliver Dam, and North Highland plants.
Bartlett’s Ferry Dam was originally owned by the Columbus Electric and Power Company and began producing electricity in 1926 with two 15,000 kilowatt generating units. Two years later a third unit was added.
Georgia Power acquired Bartlett’s Ferry in 1930. In 1951, Unit 4 was added, bringing the plant’s capacity to 65,000 kilowatts. Additional construction was completed in 1985, adding a fifth and sixth unit, a powerhouse, penstocks, intake structure and a dike on the eastern side of the river. This boosted the plant’s generating capacity to 173,000 kilowatts. At the same time, on the river’s western shore near the existing powerhouse, a unique dam, or flood control weir was completed. The weir’s zigzag construction runs 4,000 feet across a 1,260-foot length.
Taken from Georgia Power web site on Lake Harding History
Edward Lloyd Thomas was born in Charles County Maryland in 1785. In the 1790s his parents moved their family to Georgia and settled in Franklin County. As Edward got older, he took up the land surveying profession. His interest in surveying came naturally because his grandfather, John Thomas, was also a surveyor. In fact, he was the surveyor who laid out the city of Oxford, Georgia and was closely connected with the founding of Emory University.
By orders from the Georgia General Assembly, Edward Lloyd Thomas was sent to the falls on the Chattahoochee River to survey land on which to raise a town on the outskirts of the southern frontier. He brought along with him his son Truman to help with the survey. The year 1828 was born into a bitter winter and, as the harsh months wore on, young Truman fell ill. He succumbed to the cold and passed away on March 26th in the wilderness of what would become the neighborhood known as Linwood. Truman was twenty when he died. Since he had already laid out the plans for the cemetery in the city survey, his grief-stricken father buried his son there. And the survey took a turn.
Reluctant to wander too far away from his child’s resting place, Edward spent the next month roaming the area around his loss. The four acres would eventually become Columbus’ first cemetery, with Truman at its center. While it remains unknown where the young man was buried, and there is now memorial to mark his plot, the entire cemetery is itself a monument to him, for had Truman not fallen, there would be no Linwood.
The City Cemetery, as Linwood was once known, is the oldest institution of the Columbus City Government, written into the city plan the very year of its first internment. Since the city began, Linwood Cemetery has been the final resting place of many Columbus citizens. Starting with Truman Thomas, those who played a part in developing this frontier town, and whose time on earth came to an end here, were buried in the small plot of land just outside the original town limits. Those early families who were given plots or purchased lots in Linwood are still burying their loved ones here today.
The City Cemetery took the name it stands with today in 1894, when the fashionable neighborhood that surrounded it took its name from a novel by Caroline Lee Hentz, who had spent a brief period of time in Columbus. The novel was titled Ernest Linwood. Ever since then, Linwood Cemetery has been more than just a memorial garden, more than just iron markers and marble headstones. Linwood Cemetery is a repository of Columbus history. To walk among its plots is to plot the financial, social, and spiritual growth of our city by the falls.
The cemetery has survived time, vandalism, and neglect, and it has grown to include approximately 28 acres. The Historic Linwood Foundation is fully dedicated to preserving this history through restoration and conservation efforts in the cemetery. So share a day with us and we will share our past with you. As you browse the grounds you will discover the final resting place of many influential people from the Chattahoochee Valley area whose lives were dedicated to making our local and global communities better, as well as the lives of those they touched. Among these grave sites you will find John Thomas ‘Tom’ Huston buried. He founded the Tom Huston Peanut Company in Columbus, Georgia. He is who ‘Huston’s Island’ in Lake Harding is named for and a large tract of land with lakes located on Lick Skillet Road.
To request a tour or just to get more information, contact the Historic Linwood Foundation at 706-321-8285. Please come by the office at 721 Linwood Boulevard in Columbus or visit our website at:
Written by Jane Brady, Historic Linwood Foundation, December 2012
Syfrett’s Fish Camp
John Ellis Syfrett and Ethel Carmichael met and married after moving from Graceville, Florida to work in the Bibb Mill in Columbus, Georgia. They began buying up the “cheap land for about a dollar an acre”, near the Chattahoochee River, about 20 miles north of Columbus, Georgia. They eventually built a small store at the corner of what are now GA Hwy 219 and Bartlett’s Ferry Road, which Miss Ethel ran. They later cleaned up an old feed trailer and placed it behind the store where they sold fried catfish and fries.
Later on they leased this store to Bryant Teel and his wife, Virginia. Bryant was born July 29, 1919, and Virginia was born December 29, 1917. ‘Syfrett’s Store’ would come to be known as ‘Teel’s Store’, after the younger Teel’s took it over and began running it. The road, Teel’s Circle, located just south of the old store location is named for them. The store would later burn down under mysterious circumstances.
The Bartlett’s Ferry Dam was finished circa 1925, and opened in 1926. Around the mid-40s the Syfretts purchased 19 acres of land from B. B. Hudson, father of Bill and ‘Charlie Boy’ Hudson, down the road, on Lake Harding where the present day Backwater Condos and Jay’s Marina is located. Once again, using materials from old houses they had torn down, they built ‘John Syfrett’s Fish Camp’, cabins, docks and a pier for gas pumps. It was located on Georgia State Route 103 (now Eastside Drive). The restaurant seated 500 with the ‘Main Dining Room’ holding 200. The fish camp was so popular a 100’ X 100’ ‘Holding Room’ or ‘Dance Hall’ was added, jutting above the water. The restaurant and dance hall were connected by a covered, wooden walkway. Slips beneath the dance hall were rented out for boat storage.
Syfrett’s offered ‘All You Can Eat’ catfish, hushpuppies, French fries, cole slaw, onions and pickles for $1.95 per person. Back then $5.00 would buy John and Ethel 100 pounds of catfish. Another $5.00 per day would pay someone to cook up all that food. Their hand pressed hamburger with lettuce, tomato and onion was also a big favorite at 25 cents. These were not the little popper size, but a nice burger on a regular size bun. They didn’t serve alcohol. But you could BYOB or your own cooler.
During this time the Syfrett’s lived in the ‘big house’ behind the fish camp. The ‘Monkey House’ was built between the restaurant and their home. Here they kept their pet monkeys, ‘King’ and ‘Queen’, who were often known to break out and steal the fishermen’s strings of fish.
Each year the Columbus Boat Club and Phenix City Shrine Club sponsored boat races. The small 9’ craft with 10 HP Mercury Hurricane Motors took off from Syfrett’s Fish Camp.
The Syfrett’s sold the fish camp around 1974. It later caught on fire, but was re-built. However, it was eventually torn down and, with it, a piece of memorable history would be forever gone.
John died in 1978 at the age of 76. Miss Ethel died in 1983. She was 75. Their grandson, John Ellis ‘Jay’ Syfrett, III, ran a store and marina on the lake located next to the condos, and a boat repair shop across the street from where his grandparent’s original store was located. He also owned and operated the Backwater Plaza located at the site of the original store and ‘fish camp’ up until his un-timely death at the age of 57 on Sunday, November 23, 2014. Jay and his grandparents left a huge mark on the history of Lake Harding. He is specifically remembered for his larger-than-life personality, his die-hard love of the Alabama University Football Team and life on the river.
Interviews with ‘Jay’, John Ellis Syfrett III, Sandy Crews Sturges, April 12, 2010, and Charlie Hudson, 2012, by Susan Webster Tompkins