Home » Episodes » Episode 38 – Texas City, TX & Gainesville, GA (Boats, Boats, Boats & Hoes!)

This week, Rachel travels to Texas City, Texas to share the terrible story of the Texas City Disaster – a listener recommendation! Then, Emily heads to Georgia to talk about Lake Lanier (another listener recommendation!) and the horrible way this lake was created, the haunting by the Lady in the Blue, and the insane number of deaths that happen there each year. Hopefully, you’re horrified.

Trigger Warning: spooky stories


Rachel 0:14
Hi, welcome to horrible history. I’m Rachel Everett-Lozon

Emily 0:17
And I’m Emily Barlean. I hear that you have a story for me. And by I hear you I mean, you told me.

Rachel 0:25
Yes. So I’ve come to a realization and it’s all thanks to the dead squirrel in front of my house. RIP. RIP dead squirrel in front of my house. There’s a very large tree in front of my house, which is nice. Like it’s a big pine tree. It’s glorious. I really like it. And it has been tainted because apparently, a squirrel decided to die there.

Emily 0:50

Did it fall out of the tree?

Rachel 0:53
It must have? I have no idea. Like a couple of days ago, all of a sudden I’m like, oh, a squirrel is napping there.

Emily 1:00
No, it’s never napping.

Rachel 1:04
So my mom and I were running some errands today. And she picked me up. And she’s like, you know, you have a dead squirrel. And I said, I know mom, I don’t know what to do. And she goes just get a shovel, scoop it into the trash can. It’s going to be fine. So it’s like, okay, I take out the trash. I know exactly where the shovel is. I’m going to do this. So the thing about when something’s dead. It’s like surprisingly limp.

Emily 1:33
How is that possible? I feel like things are supposed to get rigor mortis, like super hard… maybe that’s just for a little while and then they go limp again?

Rachel 1:46
I have no idea. But it’s like, if you’ve ever tried to move like a sleeping child, and they’re just like limp or if they do the, if they’re tantruming. And you try to pick them up and they do the like spaghetti arms, you know,

Emily 1:52
Don’t you go boneless on me!

Rachel 1:55
Exactly. It was completely boneless and so I kept trying to scoop it up and I shit you not probably five or six times I tried to scoop it on the shovel. And then it would just like…

Emily 2:08
Well you don’t grease your shovel beforehand Rach.

Rachel 2:10
Oh my god. And obviously I’m not wearing gloves or anything. I don’t just happen to have squirrel gloves laying around like I have some gardening gloves. But I would have to throw them away. So there’s no going back from that . So finally, I got the squirrel into the trash, almost threw up, slammed the lid down and ran back inside my house and texted you and was because this is like five minutes before this and was like “I have a story for today!” And the moral of the story is that as much as I wish that I would be that friend that you could call to move a dead body. I can’t do it. I’m not that friend. I’m so sorry. I can’t.

Emily 2:58
You know what. It’s ok because I AM that friend. I’m willing to come and help you do whatever you need to do with the dead body and I can take care of my own body.

Rachel 3:12
Emily is the friend that I would call because she grew up on a farm I should have called you and been like Emily there’s a dead squirrel. Like I know you’re eight hours away but I need you.

Emily 3:20
You have to scoop it up against the tree so it has something….

Rachel 3:26
That’s what I tried to do and then it kept like I got it like halfway up.

Emily 3:29
Oh, did you chop it?

Rachel 3:31
No, I was so nervous about that. I would have straight up puked. I was trying to be under it because I didn’t want to like cut it… but like it’s not that sharp of a shovel, but I live in Colorado. It’s a snow scooping shovel. It’s a big shovel. And it was maybe just like not the appropriate type of tool?

Emily 3:51
Was it plastic or metal?

Rachel 3:56
I don’t even know. Like I want to say its metal. But all I remember is like the sleeping squirrel teaching me that I am nobody’s bottom bitch when it comes to moving a dead body.

Emily 4:13
Imagine if you were that mortician that had to cut that dude’s head off from my story a few weeks ago…

Rachel 4:19
No, no. Speaking of dead bodies, I’m going to Texas.

Emily 4:23
Hey, have we ever been to Texas?

Rachel 4:26
I don’t think so.

Emily 4:27
I don’t think so either… which is surprising because it’s such a big place. But

Rachel 4:31
Back in hhheeearrrtttt of Texas!

Emily 4:33
Which part of Texas?

Rachel 4:35
I am going to Texas City, Texas

Emily 4:37
Never heard of it.

Rachel 4:39
It is a pretty small town. And first I’m gonna just throw out there. This is a request from our patron Mike. So hey Mike, thank you for being a patron and for sending in the story. I am excited to do it.

Emily 4:53
So Mike, the man we wore down finally?

Rachel 4:57
Worn down Mike that’s what we call them. Mike atsome point. It’s just like, Alright, fine, stop nagging. patreon.com/horriblehistory. Okay, do it, do it. Texas City is a small ish town for Texas, boasting about 48,000 people. It is right on the Galveston coastline at the Gulf of Mexico and it’s about 45 minutes away from Houston is probably the nearest big city. So there’s not a ton to do and as I’m reading the story back I probably should have found touristy things in Galveston, but I didn’t. So we’re going to talk about Texas City. There is a nightclub called shenanigans with dreams. But that’s what I get into some shenanigans. This is so incredibly dorky but when I’m doing my budget, and I have like my fun money, I call it my shenanigans. Yes, I love that. I couldn’t find a ton about it. They do have a Facebook page and they talk about free pool jam into a pool. Same they have an annual BBQ cookoff which I’m definitely into.

Emily 6:05
I’m there.

Rachel 6:06
But other than that it looks like a club in a small town.

Emily 6:09
A club that has barbecue. Like I’m picturing the glubs hat I’ve been to and it’s not barbecue appropriate like sou’re ike in his tiny dress. And beat boxes club music. Then, RIBS

Rachel 6:23
Yes, that’s exactly what I picture. Okay. Or if we want to get some local food other than barbecue. I’m going to take us to Boyd’s Cajun grill now, I put in Boyd Yes, I put in the effort and I searched three different websites to find this menu including their Facebook page and their website and I could not find it.

Emily 6:49
It’s not on their website?? Okay Boyds,

Rachel 6:51
It’s not on their website nor on their Facebook. Boyds get it together. But their Facebook does boast quote, God made shrimp not man made which tracks because this is a Bible Belt.

Emily 7:05
Man covered by oil shrimp. God made

Rachel 7:08
God made me this shrimp man put oil on it. But they put those hopefully non oily shrimp on everything. Shrimp poboys shrimp burger shrimp tacos. They also have crab balls. Crab balls. Does that not sound like an STD? They’re balls of crabs.

Emily 7:31
That 100% sounds like an STD and also are they just stealing the idea from Bubba Gump? From Forrest Gump? Bubba Gump Shrimp Company? shrimp souuupp, shrimp sandwiches…

Rachel 7:47
Maybe. But also I saw a picture of the crab balls. And although it does absolutely sound like full of crabs and stt they’re round and they’re deep fried. And I like a crab cake but in a ball form probably. And look, I’ll eat it. I’ll try anything once except crabs.

Emily 8:08
Dip that shit in some aoli and it’s probably delicious.

Rachel 8:11
Yeah, like maybe like srirracha aioli of some sort?? Sounds so good. Oh, okay. And of course, boy test crawfish because it’s Texas. So I want to do crawdads if I’m in Texas, or we could head to the Texas City Museum, which is a small museum, as you’d guess. But they have an exhibit all about the Texas City disaster, which is what I’m going to talk to you about today.

Emily 8:38
Oh, I like that. It’s just a it’s kind of ambiguous. It’s just the Texas City disaster. What kind? We’ll find out.

Rachel 8:46
The disaster that happened in Texas City, obviously. It’s 8am. On an April morning in 1947. longshoreman had been doing a shit ton of physical labor, loading 2300 metric tons via heavy sacks of Imodium nitrate sounds dangerous. What? The ship’s name is the grand camp. ammonium nitrate for those of you who didn’t know because I didn’t was commonly used for fertilizer and or explosives. The grand camp was also carrying some guns, some ammunition machinery and some twine because you know, got to hold that shit together.

Emily 9:34
Yep, yep, sounds like a bomb making kit. Got it. Got it.

Rachel 9:38
The unabomber was on the ship. No. Another ship the SS hi fire was stocked about 600 feet away. It to contain this shit ton of ammonium nitrate 872 metric tons to be exact and about 1600 metric tons of sulfur up Apparently, all of this flammable stuff was going to Europe for farming. And I’m not sure sure sure.

Emily 10:09
What year is this at?

Rachel 10:11

Emily 10:13
Oh, farming?

Rachel 10:16
Yeah, I’m like, I’m not so sure about that. These longshoremen had been loading this cargo for five days, there was so much of it. That’s all they would do all day long. Wow. Then, on April 16 1947, the workmen and board the grand camp discovered a fire. Now, Emily, you and I have talked before, way back in the early days of this podcast about how fire departments are relatively recent in terms of history

Emily 10:45
Way back, aka episode one!!

Rachel 10:48
Episode 1 we talked about that shit. So of course, they this being the 40s did a phone tree to get ahold of the volunteer firefighters?

Emily 10:58
No, was it… what was that guy’s name? F Lee Bailey. Was he there?

Rachel 11:03
NO, that ‘s the lawyer. Who’s the other guy?

Emily 11:07
Yeah, you’re right. It’s f something.

Rachel 11:09
He couldn’t turn Chief Fire. So at this point, morbid curious were crowded around, looking at the cloud of colorful smoke emanating from the ship. It was a yellowish orange, which is pretty normal if the fumes or nitrogen dioxide. Cool. Of course, the crew that’s aboard the ship is trying to put out the fire themselves. So they tried snuffing out the flames to have to avoid completely destroying all of the cargo. And as we know from doing this podcast for almost a year now, it didn’t work and shits about to get worse.

Emily 11:49
No, I’d be the person on that boat who is like I have to run get something just like running away. ,

Rachel 11:57
You have like … this is a time before cell phones but you’re like “mimics phone sounds. What?? Little Timmy stuck in the well??? You just make an excuse and run.

Emily 12:07
Everyone’s like “was she talking to her hand?”

Rachel 12:12
So at 9:12 in AM, the inevitable happened. The 2300 metric tons of ammonium nitrate aboard the grand camp exploded. The blast was so powerful. It could be felt for hundreds of miles. Whoa. People in Denver thought it was an earthquake, Denver, Denver and for the record. Colorado does not border Texas for international listeners and Houston or Galveston is on the complete opposite side of Texas. It’s on the east side. Instead of the west side which would be closer to Colorado

Emily 12:50
That has to be like hundreds and hundreds of miles.

Rachel 12:53
Yes, yes. It must have felt apocalyptic fireballs shot into the sky I could be seen across Galveston Bay. Well, a 15 foot wave crash over the dark and flooded surrounding streets. A mushroom cloud Rose 2000 feet into the air and destroyed two small planes that were flying.

A nearby chemical plant was completely flattened. There was hot shrapnel catapulting through the sky, which punctured and dead ignited storage tanks full of oil and chemicals in nearby refineries. Because this is Texas. oil derricks puking everywhere and oil refineries. Oh, and ps 27 of the 28 volunteer firefighters that Texas City had died instantly and the explosion. I read somewhere else that the number 28 wasn’t actually there. I think he was like traveling for a business or something.

So and then it’s like, now we really don’t have anyone that’s able to run these machines. Exactly. So Texas City was not prepared for the series of subsequent explosions and fires everywhere. One account from a woman named beer at Bell Gary, who was teaching middle schoolers in Texas City at the time. She said we didn’t know if the world was coming to an end. All was black, the whole sky. You could see the flames going up between the smoke.

Emily 14:30
That would be scary.

Rachel 14:31
Right? And especially like, like, I’ve never been a teacher but i’ve you know, I’ve been a parent for four years now. And there are times when like, I’m really scared and I have to keep it together for a kid and that’s because like some asshole cuts me off when I’m driving them somewhere or something like that. Yeah,

Emily 14:49
you can’t be like, oh my god so shaken up, you know?

Rachel 14:52
Exactly, exactly. But I can’t be like oh my god, the world is on fire.

Emily 14:57
Well, I even remember like, I remember Obviously 9/11 like it was yesterday, like, That day is so stuck in my brain. But like that day only, and then basically everything after that I don’t have like memories of feeling scared or like, Oh my gosh, is there going to be a war or anything like that? Because the adults just kind of shielded us from it, you know. And I know my mom said that she was so afraid to pick us up from school that day, because she was so upset, and she didn’t know what’s going to happen. And as an adult, like, I’m sure she was like, What late 30s. Like, you know what this kind of shit can mean for the country for the world. And she was obviously devastated and scared. But she couldn’t let her little kids like I was in ninth grade. And Jessie was in fifth grade. So like, a fifth grader is still pretty little so and you can’t be like crying and stuff. So Oh, yeah.

Rachel 15:56
And I was just gonna say, you and I were in ninth grade. And I remember, it’s gonna make me feel so old. But, you know, you know, when we were kids like elementary school, and they used to wheel out the old black TV with the VHS player and put on Bill Nye the Science Guy. Oh, I did not realize that. I could get the news. But they wheeled out. TVs. Yeah. And every single period, we fast all day, and they just kept replaying the planes flying into the towers. And it was surreal. Because we were 14. I vividly remember talking to my friends about like, who was the biggest threat in Spanish class, while this like, fucking insane world event was happening here. Like we didn’t know and now as a parent, I’m like, Fuck, what would I have done?

Emily 16:46
Right? Like, how do you not want to just like, pull your kids out of school and start like, yeah, hoarding canned goods in the bunker.

Rachel 16:54
Well, and for 9/11 we have news. So we had people on seeing people could describe to us what happened. This woman is teaching and the sky is just black.

Emily 17:05
And she’s like, we’re just kind of keep learning about science….

Rachel 17:09
Who wants to play heads up, seven up? Keep your head down!

Emily 17:15
Seriously, yeah, the unknown is even worse. Yeah,

Rachel 17:19
for sure.

Emily 17:20
So it was just like, should we evacuation would be hiding should we be like, what? Yeah, you know, is this

Rachel 17:26
under the desk like an earthquake drill or what? Yeah, yeah. So remember how I mentioned the high flyer the SS high flyer was sitting pretty close to the Grand camp? Well, Emily, You’ll never believe what else caught on fire.

Emily 17:40
The high flyer??

Rachel 17:41
You know, the sulfur reacted with the ammonium nitrate, making it even more explosive. So when tugboat there were some tugboat workers, which I think sounds like a very adorable job. But they saw the fire on the high flyer and they tried to tow it away from the docks, knowing that if it exploded near the docks, more people would be injured. Yeah.

Emily 18:06
THat’s pretty valient and just ike selfless, because really that could definitely kill them and their boats too.

Rachel 18:14
And unfortunately, they were unsuccessful. 15 hours later. The inevitable happened again. In the early morning hours of April 17. The flammable cargo on the high flyer erupted in another massive explosion. Just for a visual. One of the high flyers propellers was blown off and found about a mile away on land. More here.

Emily 18:42
Yeah, hope it didn’t cut anybody’s head off while it was flying by.

Rachel 18:48
It could have like,

Emily 18:51
I’m going to spread that rumor around.

Rachel 18:53
Yeah, this was a horror movie. oil tankers near the explosion site burned four days. Galveston was covered with an oily fog that left residue on everything in the city. The 15 foot tidal wave flattened buildings and left 2000 people homeless

Emily 19:12
15 foot tidal wave is scary. I think it’s so interesting how dangerous water is. I mean, like how flooding and flash flooding is one of the most dangerous natural disasters that can happen and I I just don’t think of waters. I think of the ocean is terrifying and horribly dangerous. Yeah. But you know a wave. It’s like “oh, it’s just water hitting you!” But no… flat building.

Rachel 19:40

Emily 19:41
Oh my god.

Rachel 19:42
Anybody who has ever attempted to jump into a pool and accidentally belly flopped? Yeah know how painful water can be to the runway where you hit the runway. So imagine the power of a 15 foot tidal wave horrifying. 4000 people were injured. And that’s a estimate. We don’t know exactly how many deaths or how many injuries because dismembered body parts were scattered all around Texas City. Oh my god least 580 people died.

But there are still people who have been on identified. This is a port. So there are Europeans there are people who aren’t local to the area. Foreign sailors are laborers, because remember all of that ammonium nitrate was headed to Europe. Still today, there are remains of 63 unidentified victims that are buried in Memorial Cemetery near the nearby the site of the Texas City disaster. That’s a lot. Yeah. Another 113 people were classified as missing, because they couldn’t identify any of their body parts. It’s just like, we’ve got a femur here.

Emily 20:54
It’s like this is probably your person, but we have no way to actually say so. So we’re just gonna like, for all we know they’re missing totally. But also, this is definitely the anklet that she always wore.

Rachel 21:06
Yeah. The anklet and this is like 1995… anklets weren’t a thing.

So remember, Texas City is not a huge town. There’s only one morgue in Texas City, which filled up very quickly. So bodies were laid out in a high school gym so they could be identified by family members and friends.

Emily 21:32
I always see that you see that after big hurricanes and tsunamis and stuff where they just like have them laid out in a public place. And it’s so sad.

Rachel 21:42
Yeah, when the firefighters who originally came to help lost their lives in the explosion. Texas City also lost all of its fire equipment. It had four fire trucks that were all burned to the point that they were unusable. Eventually, like days later, about 200 firefighters came from around the country to aid Texas City. small fires were still burning a week after the explosion. And the recovery of the bodies took a month.

Emily 22:17
That’s it he hadLike the Middle Ages if they caught on a gasoline fire like oh,

OH. yeah, decomposing bodies. That burning smell chemical smell like all the smells that you never want to have to smell for very long. Yeah. Yeah. Also, it’s really sad to me to think about this horrible incident. The boat blows up all the like after effect after effect. And then 15 hours later, it’s like it starts over. Yes, our boat. It’s just like, mind blowing how terrible that is.

Rachel 22:55
100%. There was a really big relief effort. Obviously, lots of fundraising. There’s a big benefit where Frank Sinatra performed just fine, cool. The Texas City Relief Fund raised over a million dollars, and this is 1947. So it would be $12.3 million today. And the city began to rebuild. In the after effects, many people sought damages. And 168 individual cases were combined into one case called Elizabeth daylight at all versus the United States. On April 13 1950, the district court found the US guilty for negligence on how they packed labeled stored and transported the ammonium nitrate.

Emily 23:42
Interesting. Why would it be the US government? Was it Navy? Or like

Rachel 23:48
that is an excellent question. I don’t know the answer to that. I didn’t see that.

Emily 23:53
Or maybe just like regulatory like you don’t have good enough regulations to

Rachel 23:58
like you could just pull up to a port with carrying whatever and it’s Yeah,

Emily 24:01
so it’s like at the highest level. This is the government’s fault. Yeah, well, and I wonder

Rachel 24:08
I’ve never been on a ship like not one that actually went into international waters.

Emily 24:13
I don’t care for it.

Rachel 24:16
If you’re on a plane, you’ve got customs, right. Like is there a way if you have something coming or going from another country? Is there a way to make sure everything is packed and regulated correctly? Maybe not. But

Emily 24:27
you do have to go through a customs of sorts when you go on like a cruise So okay, but I don’t know. That’s people versus like, Import Export. So yeah, no, not my area of expertise.

Rachel 24:38
Yeah, if you know, tell us

Emily 24:40
Mike? Tell us?

Rachel 24:42
Mike, help

Emily 24:43
you do the research!

Rachel 24:46
Stop giving us great ideas. And they were telling us before that I’m kidding. Kidding. Kidding. Ah, Mike, don’t quit on us. We love you. Okay, but on June 10 1952. That decision was overturned. So the US was no longer found guilty, Congress did eventually provide some compensation. Since victims didn’t receive anything from the court, the claims were all finished processing by 1957. And almost 1400 people were awarded money, which doesn’t sound like enough but fine, but the total of the money was around $17 million split in some way around 1400 people, which is again 1947 or 19. What is this 57 money? So a lot of money. Yeah, but for the record, we’re not saying Money makes tragedy, okay. We’re just saying if you go through something terrible, hopefully then afterwards you get paid. Not that it makes it better. But like, you name it, a lot of therapy and probably medical bills.

Emily 25:45
reparations are thing.

Rachel 25:46
Yeah, reparations are a thing. The Texas City disaster is still referred to as the deadliest industrial accident in United States history. And no one knows for sure what started the initial fire on the grid and camp. Interesting. Isn’t that as a cool, I got to end on that unsolved mystery.

Emily 26:08
Yeah, it’s like Did somebody have a cigarette? They like flipped or something, or was it a malfunction within the bow? like wow,

Rachel 26:17
yeah. So that’s it. That’s it’s a shorty. But

Emily 26:19
can you imagine if you were smoking and you like flicked a little bit of ash and they accidentally had some like, fire starter, so I don’t know what that would be called … a spark or whatever. And, literally, a month later, fast forward and 1000s of people have died.

Rachel 26:46
This is not the same, but so my mom, when we’re running errands, she’s like, Oh, I need to get gas and we look over and somebody is smoking like at the gas pump. So we’re like, not this one. Not here. Yeah. Don’t smoke here. us. We too. Can’t not die in a freak gasoline. accident. Oh. All right, what you got?

Emily 27:11
Okay. Well, I am also going to do a listener suggestion this one from our lovely friend, Brit.

Rachel 27:21
Hey, Brit!

Emily 27:22
And this will so something we were just talking about in your story is going to, you’ll see. Yes. Okay. I mean, I’m not gonna give it away yet. But so, we are headed to Gainesville this week. That would be Gainesville, Georgia, not Gainesville, Florida. Okay. And so Gainesville is nestled at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. And it’s the tourism and economic center of North East Georgia. So it’s like, halfway between the Appalachian Mountains and Atlanta. Okay. It’s known as the city of excellence. Ah,

Rachel 28:02
why don’t we live there?

Emily 28:03
Right. We’re excellent. And it’s home to more than 42,000 people. So nice mid size, little tiny small towns, but yeah, just like, tiny but midsize, yeah, comparable, comparable. So there are a lot of things that make Gainesville unique. There are apparently tree lined streets and charming cafes and boutiques that we can stroll through and were in Gainesville. I would also want us to check out the Botanical Gardens because I love a good botanical garden. And of course the farmers market the we apparently go to any farmers market. It’s always like, we go to the farmers market.

Rachel 28:46
We’re basic we know what we are. You don’t have to tell us we know.

Emily 28:53
I think we could check out the historic Piedmont hotel, which it said is where fried chicken was invented. I’m like Okay, sounds cool. Also in my notes it says friend chicken apparently I was typing fast.

Rachel 29:09
So either like your friend is a chicken

Emily 29:12
you’re my friend chicken or or you’re eating your friend

Rachel 29:15
or you are a little bit of a cannibal. Yeah, this is my friend chicken. Let’s I’m gonna fry him up.

Emily 29:25
Then we probably go grab a beer at Left Nut Brewing Company, because we’re children

Rachel 29:36
That laugh was involuntary just like I’d give my left nut for a beer.

Emily 29:43
You know that that’s why they paid and then we you know we mature a little bit and head over to harvest kitchen, which is a trendy little place that has a really fun atmosphere and tapas which I love tapas! Yeah, I would definitely want to try the paella and crispy brussel sprouts and they have something called paparuchas which are potatoes with the parmesan cream sauce. Bacon and green onions. Oh, okay. And for dessert they have churros con chocolate. So churros dipped in chocolate, which I’m like a Yeah, yes, please. Oh,

Rachel 30:22
SO… wear my stretchy pants. Yeah, those

Emily 30:23
Yeah, wear those stretchy pants. tops are so good. Oh my gosh. Okay. And then if we’re feeling brave, ever feeling very, very, very brave. We would head to one of Gainesville, his most popular locations and a location that is quite dangerous. Okay, and also the focus of my story today. The infamous Lake linear.

Rachel 30:53
So full disclosure, Emily and I share a tick tock we did each created individual one, but our podcast is the only person I take that I still have using that joint word forever, right? Like it’s curated for us. Right But Brit sent us a pm is that they call it on Tick Tock. I don’t know. I I’m not hip with the young kids. She sent us a message on tik tok with this story and Emily immediately was like Rachel Dibs so I’m so excited you’re gonna cover it

Emily 31:27
it’s super good. And so when we’re talking about the tidal wave and how waters scary I almost was like, oh my stories about scary water. All that in bitch.

Rachel 31:39
Literally how Emily would be after we ate all those tapas. Hold it in!

Emily 31:45
I know that a lot of cheese but we’re not to the hotel yet.

Rachel 31:49
Stop outing all my secrets

Emily 31:51
they know. Well, so according to explore georgia.com Lake Lanier is one of America’s favorite legs. Okay. It’s like it’s got recreational opportunities. It hosts more than 11 point 8 million people every year, which is good. a crazy amount of people. That’s all they have 76 recreational areas 10 marinas, islands like it is a party like

Rachel 32:19
it’s like there should be some food trucks.

Emily 32:21
There might be food trucks in one of the parks or something. I don’t know of any food boats like floating trucks but who has Why has someone not invented that yet? Because that’s genius.

Rachel 32:31
Remember though I did that terrible today the other week about that guy floating on Tiki? some tacos are?

Emily 32:39
Probably probably. Um, so there’s 690 miles of shoreline and spectacular scenery and unique recreational activities. So that’s what you know, the PR people of the world have said about like linear. Sure. But if you dig deeper, or do a light Google search, what is that? Lake linear has a very different allure, especially for the morbid curious like, and when I say a lure, I mean, it should deter everyone from wanting to go there. And yeah, 11 point 8 million people go there every year,

Rachel 33:20
which only makes me want to go there

Emily 33:22
more. I know, if you tell me I can’t have it. I want it.

Rachel 33:25
I want it more.

Emily 33:27
What Lake Lanier is a man made Lake, a man made reservoir and it was officially finished and made in 1956. But since then, since 1956, there have been a number of odd and terrible happenings at Lake linear. These events include an exploding boat 145 drownings, 57 boat related deaths, and in total 675 deaths in this one Lake since 1956. Okay, and 27 victims have never been found. Bodies never discovered. And every year tons of people almost drowned. And many of them claim it felt like someone was pulling me from underwater sea monster.

Rachel 34:17
Ghost sea monster! .

Emily 34:21
Ghost sea monster!! Oh, so how did the lake become such a deathtrap? Well, I don’t know. Tell me how did it get its legend for being so freakin haunted. Today, I’m going to tell you calm your tits. I’m gonna. I’m gonna tell you not only about the horrible way that this lake was created, but also the aftermath that followed. So this story technically begins in 1946 when the United States Army Corps Engineers was charged with the task of damming the Chattahoochee River which I’m just like Chattahoochee is such a fun word to say I just love it. Yeah, it is. So they wanted to dam the river to create a reservoir so that they could provide hydroelectricity, better navigation, flood control and a water supply for the nearby city of Atlanta, which is about 45 minutes away, I’m pretty sure. But before they could do any of this work to make this freakin Lake, that one little job that they needed to do, they had to actually acquire the land that was going to become the bottom of the lake, right? Because it was already settled and developed, people lived there. So it wasn’t just some valley where they were like, cool, blank, blank space. Let’s fill it with water. No, there were towns like full towns of people that they’re like, Hey, guys, can we ask a favor? Just move.

Rachel 36:03
that feels like very bad karma. If nothing else,

Emily 36:06
oh, and it’s just getting started. So I will put a pin right here and tell you that if you want to know a little bit more about the even more historic bad karma that came before this actual creation of the lake more like 1900. I’m going to talk a little bit about that, about that on the happy hour with horrible history for this week. So if you’re a patron, you’ll be able to hear a little more about what kind of bad stuff happened in the 1900s, early 1900s that maybe created some terrible stuff that could have carried over to this like, Okay, I’m excited. That’s kind of like a very big statement, but just cool. Cool. And listen, be a

Rachel 36:51
patron and then you’ll understand it.

Emily 36:53
Yeah, you’ll get me better. Okay. It’s hard. I know.

Rachel 36:57
so complicated.

Emily 37:00
So the very first transaction that needs that took place was in 1948. And this was when Henry shad burn an 81 year old ferryman for Forsyth County, Georgia, sold his 100 acre farm known as shad burns ferry to the United States government for 40 $100 Oh my god, good old 50 bucks an acre. And over the following couple of years, the government essentially kept purchasing more and more land this way until they eventually had more than 50,000 acres total of prime fertile farm ground that they were going to just put at the bottom of the dam like, and one interesting thing that I read is that a lot of these towns from this county were primarily black individuals that lived in these towns. And it was some of the only land that black people owned in Georgia. And it had like ancestral value, like they’d been there for a long time. And so then they’re being asked to like give up their their land that’s been in their family and is the pride of their family, and then only given like 50 bucks an acre, which is not an amount that’s liveable, even at this time. And so then they couldn’t buy new land. So they’re essentially like kicked out of their land only to be like poor and not have the ability to buy land where they wherever they went, which was awful. Yeah, just terrible. And even though many of these families were paid, barely, but they were paid. It’s also said that some of the land, it was just seized, like people were just forcibly removed. Because they were like, sorry,

Rachel 38:50
Oh, you don’t want to pay us will escort you out. Yeah,

Emily 38:52
sorry, this is happening. So in the end, it’s estimated that about somewhere between 250 and 700, which I know is a big range, but like different people, hundreds of people, hundreds of families were relocated, and like I said, many of the people who refused to sell their land had it seized, forcibly removed. And of course, a lot of the people who were forcibly removed were black community members, so terrible, terrible, terrible.

Rachel 39:22
Welcome to America’s history.

Emily 39:24
This is America. So once everybody was moved out, the government went about their next task, which was deconstructing the cities that were in their way. So they wanted to tear down as much as they could from what would be the bottom of the lake. So a lot of the houses that were made of wood, they tore down. Some churches, things that had like a steeple. Obviously they would need to get rid of the steeple, but not everything was taken away. Things that were made of concrete and brick. We’re just a Banton kind of left to be consumed by the water. Because they’re like, we’re not taking the time to knock down concrete like, sorry. We’ll do the wood but the concrete can stay. And they also went about relocating the remains of people from about 20 cemeteries. Oh, no. Yeah. No, you

Rachel 40:22
don’t move bodies. Did you not hear the squirrel story? It is difficult and they will haunt you. Yep. If I have a haunted squirrel.

Emily 40:31
I my haunted cat can teaser content squirrel.

Rachel 40:35
Send him on over?

Emily 40:38
Yeah, yeah. So 20 cemeteries, where they disinterred and moved their remains. But this is 1940s Georgia, people were still having family based cemeteries. So there were a lot of houses where they would have their relatives like buried in the yard, little family cemetery, or

Rachel 41:01
I’m just imagining playing bocce ball? That’s not a post that’s aunt ethel!

Emily 41:08
exactly. Well, and a lot of people had these family cemeteries and a lot of cemeteries. I mean, think about a cemetery now, even like a small town cemetery. Now, there are definitely grave sites that don’t have a tombstone, or it’s a very small or covered up tombstone. So like, How many did they miss? Yeah, how many? Did they not get? How many? How many Native American burial sites were there that nobody knew about from like, hundreds of years ago. So let’s just say we’re pretty certain that probably hundreds of people were left buried in that area, that they then flooded with a lake that they were going to use for, you know, party boats. and stuff later,

Rachel 41:53
I still want to take a party boat out there. You’ve not deterred me completely. But I, I maybe need like some ghost hunting equipment on it.

Emily 42:07
Seriously, I think by the end of this, you will not want to ever go to this lake because I do not.

Rachel 42:13
All right, bring it on.

Emily 42:15
Okay, so at some point, it becomes time they feel like they’ve done their due diligence, they’ve gotten rid of most of the buildings they’ve transferred the body is, it’s time to actually dam the river create this, this lake. So this all starts on March 1 of 1950. And they have a ceremonial, groundbreaking and 3500 people come to the site of what is now the Buford dam. And they had this big event and they scooped their little shovels the dirt, you know, the governor and whoever else, they’re all like, we’re so excited about this. And so they do that. And then over the next six years, and with $45 million, they built this dam, dammed up the Chattahoochee River. And let the backwaters begin to fill the crevices and the valleys of the foothills. So as each week, month, year passes, the water fills more and more and like, keeps creeping closer and closer to these abandoned towns and homesteads consuming like everything in their path so farmlands, fields, forests, another Lake named Lake Warner was just like, you’re part of us now. You know, this sucker kind of got out of control. And it’s now like, this massive like, like, if you see pictures of it, it’s humongous, very big. And it took over these tiny these whole towns, like I said, all of their homes, all the businesses, all the roads, bridges, toll gates, like all these historical landmarks, everything that was there that got left behind, which was a lot like they got rid of stuff quote, unquote, but not really was all just underwater now. Ghost Towns underwater, essentially.

Rachel 44:06
That’s crazy. Writing Atlantis under there.

Emily 44:10
Yeah, there was a bunch of rusted out old ferries. They used to be used to transport residents across the Chattahoochee River back and back again. They were just left there to sit decaying along the lake bottom, all this kind of stuff. There was even an old racetrack with like stands so like people would sit in the stands and watch race car type of things, or maybe horse races. I’m not sure. All of that underwater. So there’s a race track underwater in this lake. It’s crazy. That is crazy. Insane. And so it took the new Lake linear about somewhere between three and five years to reach its like full capacity, which is about 1071 feet above sea level. Though it is said that at some point It got like halfway full to the certain point. And then they took boats out and all the trees that were still above water. They just cut them off at that. Basically when they knew that it was like to the point where a boat will never reach this depth to like hit itself on the trees, they cut them off there and then just let the tops of the trees fall to the bottom of the lake.

Rachel 45:20
I just whose drunk guy idea was this? Hey, Chad, look. chainsaws on the boat today and just chop down everything that gets in our way.

Emily 45:31
What the fuck go to hell tree? Yeah, exactly. 10 points if you could throw your chainsaw Get it?

Rachel 45:41
Without leaving the boat!

Emily 45:41
I need another chain saw… I dropped mine..

Rachel 45:45
Don’t worry, bro. I brought extras!.

Emily 45:49
I know it just seems like they in their brains are like, you know what? This like? No one’s gonna ever go down deep enough to see all this and water just like eats things away. Right? Like it’ll be like

Rachel 46:05
how water works. They preserved. Never seen the Little Mermaid. They’re like sharks. I guess I

Emily 46:12
still go in the damn Titanic people What happened? Um, yeah. So when like linear hit its full capacity, quote, unquote. It was, as I said 1071 feet above sea level. Today, it has 625 billion gallons of water

Rachel 46:33

Emily 46:34
which is about the equivalent of 950,000 Olympic sized swimming pools. Holy shit. almost a million swimming. Olympic swimming pools make up this

Rachel 46:44
crazy. That’s too big of a number for my brain.

Emily 46:47
I know. Like when they tried to explain million versus billion with the like rice kernels. I’m always just like, my brain is blown. Totally. So once the lake is complete, right away, people start using it for fun. You know, like originally they had said they’re gonna use it for like drinking water and hydroelectricity. But right away, people were like, boats, boats, boats, and hoes and boats. And hoes. Some people even actually got into the water and started using it for fun before it cleared those tree tops that I mentioned. So people are just like, if it were going boating, they wanted to have some Lakey fun like, Georgia,

Rachel 47:28
I get really hot.

Emily 47:30
It’s super hot. But unfortunately, laiki fun is not what everyone who visits gets. Lakeland here is the largest lake in Georgia. And it’s also one of the deadliest lakes in the United States. As I mentioned, since its formation, almost 700 people have died their 200 since 1994. alone. Oh, recent crazy. Okay, but 95 was 30 years ago.

Rachel 47:58
No, no, she’s wrong. Bad math. I’m not that old, I’m young and Spry. So Spry.

Emily 48:13
as my like back cracks. So I didn’t have any point of reference for whether 200 deaths in 30 years is a lot for a lake. So I did a little bit of snooping and researching on that. And it’s a lot compared to other lakes like sure, here’s a good reference point. 11 million visitors descend upon like linear every year, and about the same number. Oh, which is about the same number of people who visit the loop? Oh, by the way, in Paris. But the legs popularity is not what causes the high number of fatalities because Lake allatoona, which is 40 miles to the west of Lake linear gets the same number of visitors every year, but has 1/3 the number of deaths. And I saw all these charts where it was like all these other lakes and it’d be like here’s the death right? And then Lake Lanier is like on its whole other plane above whereas just like oh, my beer, you know, yeah, you think you’re deadly? I know.

Rachel 49:19
So like I will have I’ll have a beer but also like six life jackets.

Emily 49:25
Yeah, so one explanation for the high number of fatalities may be the fact that there’s all this debris and rubble from like before the likes construction, the sunken boats, the fishing wire, the frickin trees, you know, like it’s not necessarily a happy, calm place to swim by far like it’s got a relatively treacherous underwater obstacle course going on beneath the surface, but a lot that is deep. I mean, the lake is anywhere from 80 to 100 feet deep, and its deepest spots. So, where the like old ghost towns and stuff are is not where people would be swimming,

Rachel 50:06
right? Maybe with an oxygen tank but not Riley’s really dead?

Emily 50:10
Yeah, no, no. So essentially, if you’re being really logical, you can think to things like, there’s a whole town’s race tracks trees underneath of this water like, of course, it’s a dangerous place. But when you start to hear the stories of people dying, or boats crashing, it gets kind of creepy. You see, there are dozens of accounts of super strong swimmers, who are just in calm water relatively close to the shore drowning. There are incidents of boats who are boating and they hit something like a very, they feel an obvious hit. And then they’ll go to look at what they hit. There’s nothing there. Waters calm, like they’re just like, what, what the hell, there’s boats that just explode. You know, it’s like, several boats have exploded. They’re like barges have sunk, you

Rachel 51:07
know, ammonium nitrate,

Emily 51:09
they just no nitrate they’re just exploding from I don’t know. And like I said, the people who have almost drowned, but not a lot of them say it feels like hands, grabbing them and pulling them down. Or, like they’re, they’re swimming and then all of a sudden, all the air gets pushed out of their lungs and they like, can’t breathe, even when they try you know, weird, weird stuff like that. And so over the years, people have come to believe that Lake Lanier is super haunted, super haunted by all of the graves that did not get dug up super haunted by perhaps the 27 bodies that have never been recovered from the waters. But the most famous story is that of the Lady of the Lake, the Lady of the Lake who wears a blue dress, and spends her time wandering up and down the bridge and by the lake and in the water. And just as they’re haunting the EFF out. Like, creepy creepy and so I found the story behind this lady, the real life story about who this woman probably is. In April of 1958 Delia Mae Parker Young was traveling with Suzy Roberts to the three Gables, which was a Roadhouse in dawsonville, Georgia. And the pair could be traced from the three gables to a gas station where they are gassing up their car, which was a 1954 Ford. And it’s that they sped away from the gas station without pain. Haha, teenagers, you know, what am I so Susie’s driving her car and they’re speeding away, and they’re going across the linear bridge, when for some unknown reason she lost control of the car crashed off the right abatement of the bridge, and right into the water of Lake linear. So once they figured out what had happened, they see the skid marks, that’s the only thing that’s left behind is like skid marks and the crash through the bridge. And they’re like, what the hell, they send divers into the lake to search the area to try to find the car, the girls whatever, nothing could be found. They couldn’t find any physical evidence of the women or the car that went into Lake. So a year later, in 1959, a fisherman was fishing and discovered human remains that had floated to the surface of the lake. And further examination yielded no obvious cause of death. And the individual could not be positively identified. But it was noted that it was missing both of its hands and several toes. Which I’m kind of assuming fish ate like, I guess but like why just the hands or

Rachel 54:13
serial killer? Right? Like?

Emily 54:16
Oh, yeah, it’s like What? What? What? Yeah, well, so here’s the funny thing that I’ve left out when I was describing the lady at the lake. Everyone who sees her describes her as having no hands. Oh, no, it’s definitely This person will so they’re starting to assume it’s either Dr. Susie, but at the time, no way for them to know. And so they just took this body and laid it to rest in a cemetery in an unmarked grave. 31 years pass when in November of 1990. The lake bed was being dredged because they are going to be setting the foundation for a new bridge and unexpectedly they pulled up the shell of this rusted out 1954 Ford that still had human remains in it behind the wheel.

Rachel 55:09
My hands were the hands on the steering wheel. Yes, the hands on my

Emily 55:18
butt. So through the personal belongings in the car, you know, purse rings, watches, that kind of thing. They discovered that Suzy Roberts was the one behind the wheel and she was one who was driving and in light of that they are kind of like, okay, so the one who had come up must have been Juliet may Parker young. And so then they were able to properly bury her at least put a name on her tombstone. But so it’s just so creepy to me to think that for three decades, Suzy Roberts was just trapped in her car, under 90 plus feet of water, like having come to rest on a steep slope between all these tree trunks and all the other like ghost town that is like linear. And that’s so creepy. She was finally laid to rest, thank goodness. But of course, this has all been the foundation for one of the most persistent legends of Lake Lanier. And like I said, People are always saying that they see an apparition of a young woman in a blue dress that’s walking up and down linear bridge and it doesn’t have any hands so so apparently Delia is not happy. She is haunting the lick.

Rachel 56:33
Give me back my fucking hands,

Emily 56:35
right I want my hands back. That’s like also how she grabbing people and dragging down

Rachel 56:39
whether she picks them or she tackles them and pushes them down with her like soaking wet body.

Emily 56:50
So um, this ghost of course, is not the only suppose that hunting member of Lake Lanier though. Another one of the many apparitions that people see is that of a mysterious raft that floats on the lake late at night. And it has a shadowy figure on it that pushes the raft along with the pole, and has a lantern swinging lighting the way and those who have seen it claim that they see it kind of appear and then just disappear on nowhere. So there’s one sighting that was reported by two fishermen who claimed that they were out at 1am on like a cold autumn night fishing, which I’m like, Who’s fishing at 1am. But I do know people that Yeah. And they saw the raft in a section of the leg that is known to be like 45 feet deep. And yet this writer is like having no difficulty navigating the water with a pole to like push himself along, like standing up and like pushing the pole like you wouldn’t really shallow water. And so I guess the two fishermen were watching this figure, like, travel along and then all of a sudden the figure shouted, and jumped from the raft into the water. And they were like, Oh my god, it’s coming for us. And so they like pulled up their lines and, you know, started to prepare to leave the area. And then when they shine their lights back across the water, nothing, no raft, no figure, just a calm like with undisturbed water. Like nothing had ever been there. Awful, so creepy.

Rachel 58:35
That’s a really crazy,

Emily 58:36
I do not get for it. Um, so there are obviously a ton of other stories. There’s a ton of really sad stories out there that I was gonna start to, like get into and then it was just like, sorry, kids drowning adults drowning. Like, it’s not a good story for a podcast to like just ramble through anything. 600 people that have died like, yeah, you know, I’m just not going to go there. But there are a couple more very interesting stories of like creepy things that have happened. But that have happened in more recent years. And so I’m going to talk about two stories like that on happy hour. The story from the 1900s about some of the really crazy shit that happened in the land before it became a lake. And then one Reddit story of someone who saw who had an experience at the lake. But yeah, thanks. Yeah, exactly. But for me in general, what what creeps me out the most is just thinking about what’s at the bottom of the lake like, yeah, ghost towns and dead bodies from the cemeteries, or, you know, the 27 lives that were lost and never recovered. I read one article that was particularly chilling. I’m a diverse They have to employ divers a lot to go in and pull people out of the water that have drowned and not come back up, which is a horrible job. That’s me. So one diver was there and he was doing a dive to try to help a missing swimmer. And he reported that he was at the bottom of the lake, you know, like looking around in the debris and trying to find this person. And he came to this spot where he like, fell, which I’m like, how do you fall when you’re underwater, but he like fell to a much deeper part. All of a sudden, he was like, in this very deep area. And when he reached his hands are out. There was brick on all sides of him. He had fallen into a well oh my god. The lake. No, oh my god. Like That was scary. Hell, I don’t like that at all. Somebody

Rachel 1:00:51
pulled him down there ghost.

Emily 1:00:53
Can you imagine go see monster. Oh, just freaks me out?

Rachel 1:00:57
No, no, I

Emily 1:00:58
don’t like it. I don’t like it. And that same diver guy was saying that he’s like, when I’m diving. Sometimes it’s very murky water, especially at the bottom and like you can’t see anything ahead of you. And he’s like, sometimes you’ll be like, arms out like looking for things and you’ll just like grab on to what feels like a limb like a human body part. But then there’s nothing there. I know. I hate it. But to this day, like linear is one of the most dangerous lakes in America. There have been many years where the number of deaths climbed into high teens, mid 20s. In 2011, there were 17 deaths and all of them were either mysterious or under horrific circumstances like jet skis, decapitating people kind of stuff. Oh, like crazy stuff like that. Yeah. And there have just been truly odd, creepy happenings in general. That just has me saying like, No, thank you.

I’ll go to a different like, like, I don’t want to come here and risk it. I’m sorry. So if you want to hear about a couple more creepy things, like I said, you can head on over to Patreon now and listen to happy hour, where I will share a few of those. But yeah, that is the creepy creepy story of like linear or part of it. At least. Great job. I

Rachel 1:02:24
can’t wait to hear more on happy hour. If you hate it and yet can’t get enough, you can find more of us on tik tok or Instagram. We’re at horrible history pod. Send us your stories. We’ve got horrible history podcasts@gmail.com and we’ve got a website horrible history podcast calm

Emily 1:02:44
Yeah. And we got merged that you should check out I just got a new water bottle that’s like insulated and honestly measuring man, I had no idea what to expect in terms of size. Like I honestly expected this to be smaller. Like I came and I was like, This is insane. Like this is massive. And I love it and like I

Rachel 1:03:04
hate to be my next one. It’s really cute stainless

Emily 1:03:06
steel, like really good quality. And I’m just like, Yes, good decision, Emily. So definitely check it out. And thank you so much for listening.

Rachel 1:03:16
Hopefully you’re horrified.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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Intro Music: “Creeper” – Oliver Lyu

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