The U.S. Flood Control Act of 1950 authorized funds for construction of the Hartwell Dam and Reservoir as part of a comprehensive development plan for the Savannah River Basin. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction in 1955 and completed the dam in 1963. Hartwell Dam spans over 3 miles across the Savannah River about 7 miles below the point at which the Tugaloo and Seneca Rivers join to form the Savannah. Lake Hartwell was created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during the Hartwell Dam project in order to institute a system of flood control and provide usable hydroelectric power.
Lake Hartwell is 56,000 acres in size, it has 962 miles of shoreline, and it extends 49 miles up the Tugaloo River and 45 miles up the Seneca River when it is at its normal pool elevation. Lake Hartwell was named after a famous patriot in the American Revolutionary War, Nancy Hart, whose defiance against the British Loyalists in North Georgia is legendary. Hart County was also named after Nancy Hart, and it is the only one of Georgia’s 159 counties that is named after a woman.
Lake Hartwell is situated on the border between South Carolina and Georgia. In Georgia, portions of Lake Hartwell are in Hart County, Franklin County and Stephens County. Interstate 85 bisects Lake Hartwell and because it is less than 2 hours travel from downtown Atlanta, Lake Hartwell is visited by almost 10 million people per year. Lake Hartwell is ranked third among the 10 most popular U.S. Corps of Engineer projects in the United States.
Real estate in areas near Lake Hartwell
The nearest city to Lake Hartwell is the City of Hartwell with a population of 4,743 according to the U.S. census in 2000. The City of Hartwell is also the county seat of Hart County and it contains 4.6 square miles of land. Almost all the residential home developments on or near Lake Hartwell that are in North Georgia are inside Hartwell’s city limits so city zoning requirements are applicable.
Homes with property frontage on Lake Hartwell range in price from $500,000 to 1.5 million dollars. Lakefront land lots that are zoned for residential development can be found for as low as $25,000 for less than ¼ acre of land with 50 ft. of frontage on Lake Hartwell to $600,000 for 1 acre with 250 ft. of frontage on the lake. Compared to other areas of the United States with similar type man-made lakes, property values at beautiful Lake Hartwell are remarkably affordable.
Lodging, shopping, dining and entertainment
Lodging in Hartwell can be found at hotels such as Best Western Inn & Suites, Days Inn and Jameson Inn. The Skelton House bed and breakfast inn offers 7 individually decorated and tastefully appointed guest rooms with private baths for those who seek more romantic lodging accommodations. Opportunities for shopping and dining in Hartwell are centered in the downtown district around Depot Street, which was named for the old train station at the end of the street. This historic area contains antique stores, art galleries, gift shops, a candle factory, cafes and restaurants, a Bluegrass Music Hall and the Hart County Community Theater.
Lodging is also available at Hart State Park along the shoreline of Lake Hartwell. This 147 acre state park has 5 furnished cottages for rent, 62 tent, trailer and RV campsites, and 16 walk-in campsites. Within the park are many boat ramps and docks, a swimming beach and picnic areas. People can enjoy fishing in the lake and rent boats, canoes, kayaks and pontoon boats or enjoy hiking and bicycling along the park’s 1.5 mile nature trail.
Another campground near Lake Hartwell where camping facilities are available is called the Georgia River Recreation Area. Operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the campground is located on the Savannah River just below Hartwell Dam and it’s appropriate for basic camping without electrical hook-ups. The campsites are spacious and privately situated close to the river where there is a picnic area and two fishing piers.
Lake Hartwell is renowned for having excellent fishing locations in thousands of secluded coves along its shoreline. Anglers travel to Lake Hartwell from all over the southeast to catch largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, striped bass and hybrid bass. People can enjoy fishing from fishing piers or from designated shoreline areas, and people who own fishing boats can launch them at numerous boat ramps.
Sailing, canoeing, kayaking, power boating and outdoor water sports activities like waterskiing and windsurfing are allowed on Lake Hartwell. Swimming is allowed at 15 different designated public swim beaches and there are also hundreds of island and shoreline beaches. There are 80 public boat ramps located around Lake Hartwell where people can launch their boats, and boat rentals are available at 5 different boat marinas.