The very northwest corner of Georgia disappeared over the summer.
Nearly 200 years ago, the Camak Stone was installed by a team of surveyors to mark the point at which our state joins both Tennessee and Alabama.
Here, the rock had been celebrated mostly for being in the wrong place _ well south of the 35th parallel it was supposed to represent, forever isolating Georgia from the Tennessee River and its water.
The University of Georgia mathematician responsible for the miscalculation, James Camak, blamed faulty star tables.
Barton Crattie, 54, of Lookout Mountain, Ga., is treasurer of the Surveyors Historical Society. He went to the scene of the lost stone a week or so ago. “I walked all over, thinking that it might have just been vandals _ and hoping they’d thrown it in the woods. But I believe it’s stolen.”
The mystery is why anyone would bother. The Camak Stone was _ and perhaps, still is _ nothing but an ugly, rust-stained stump of limestone.
But looks are something that, with the proper encouragement, Hollywood could easily fix.
Since a federal judge declared in July that most of metro Atlanta had no right to draw a single glass of drinking water from Lake Lanier, you have been lectured about the dire consequences. The billions upon billions of dollars in economic development at stake. The prospect of an entire population subjected to the indignities of low-flow toilets.
What we have ignored are the dramatic opportunities. Water wars have been a staple of American literature. “Whiskey’s for drinking. Water’s for fighting over,” Mark Twain is reputed to have said.
American cinema is no exception. Why was Jack Nicholson’s nose slit in “Chinatown”? Because Los Angeles was thirsty.
Now, though Georgia’s border dispute with Tennessee is undoubtedly real _ the Legislature last year directed Gov. Sonny Perdue to pursue the matter, in court or at the negotiating table _ a few facts might have to be sacrificed in the telling.
A few days ago, Perdue rejected any confrontation with Tennessee as “a near-term option,” apparently in the belief that a water war with two states _ Alabama and Florida _ was preferable to a water war with three.
The governor favors an Alabama-focused approach. And as a legal strategy, this can’t be faulted. But as a plot point, you can hear the thud.
Put a Zell Miller-like figure at the head of an army of thirst-crazed north Georgians, give him a bejeweled and magical Camak Stone to carry into battle, and invading Tennessee makes a deal of sense on a movie screen.
Whereas an invasion of Alabama would strain the most fertile imaginations.
Prefer something more sentimental? Shift your gaze slightly south.
Possibly you’ve read that the city of Atlanta owns 10,000 acres near Dawsonville now being eyed for a reservoir. But in next-door Hall County, the largest landowner has for several years been the family of an Austrian count, attempting the same thing.
(A family representative in Athens affirmed the title of nobility. Austria abolished such things in 1919, but informal use lingers, apparently.)
U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, plus U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, have acted on the family’s behalf, in pursuit of a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The 7,500 acres known as Glades Woodland Farms was purchased in 1979. Within that chunk of land, Hall County purchased 805 acres in 2001 for a reservoir _ right above Lake Lanier.
Clemens Goess-Saurau, 52, died while skiing in Austria last year, but his heirs are pursuing the project _ which has acquired new momentum since July.
The story is unfinished, but clearly something Von Trappish is a possibility.
Environmentalists oppose the new lake’s construction, in part _ they say _ because a reservoir can hardly serve as a reliable source of water if it also must be kept filled for lakeside homes with boat ramps.
Alabama and Florida have lodged objections to the project as well.
Last week, as opposition piled up, an attorney for the Glades reservoir project announced that pursuit of a construction permit would be postponed, deferring a 30-year-old venture for another four months.
And giving you more time to write the ending.
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