The Atlantis of Appalachia

SCUBA divers in Summerville Lake discovered that the sunken town of Gad is intact.

The long-lost town is perfectly preserved under Summersville Lake.

Summersville Lake

Summersville Lake

Though it seems unbelievable, the lakebed shifted and revealed Gad for the first time in decades.

“Only the surface was opaque,” said Michael Reese, whose family made the discovery while on vacation. “As we swam away from the marina and dove down, we saw this incredible town, just sitting there like it was planted there yesterday!”

Gad, once a quiet farming town in Nicholas County, had been sacrificed to Summersville Lake when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed a dam for flood control in the 1960s. The 2,700-acre reservoir has crystal depths,craggy shoreline and the clearest water east of the Mississippi— which made it easy for vacationers to spot the sunken town.

Summerville Lake’s soft bottom shifted Thursday, releasing thousands of pounds of sediment from 327 feet below the surface. The Reese family didn’t expect much as they looked at the muddied water, but rented SCUBA equipment anyway.

“It was, like, pretty muddy,” Petra Reese said. “I was all like, ‘Dad’s

Scuba diver with full face mask entering lake

lost his mind.’ ”

But beneath the surface, they discovered a town frozen in time. The Reese family later shared photos they took with special underwater cameras. Their pictures show clapboard houses, tidy fences and parked cars— just like a movie set.

“I felt like a kid again,” M. Reese said. “I saw a Studebaker and several Packards.”

His daughter posted a snapshot of a family home on Facebook. Her picture shows a plain 2-story house with a chimney and blue shutters. Incredibly, the windows are in perfect condition. You can even see a rope swing in the yard.

“Cute house. Kinda small. No way would I have wanted to live during the 60s,” she said in the caption. “Dullsville, U.S.A.”

Her comment got 56 “Likes.”

An Appalachian Atlantis?

Historians and sociologists from West Virginia and around the country are booking dive equipment to go see the town, which is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for scholars.

A forest ranger said Gad would keep anthropologists busy.

“Since the Reese family visited Gad, we’ve seen evidence of underwater habitation,” she said. “You can see new floral curtains in some houses and clean kitchens, too. We’re calling these aquatic residents the Maids of Gad.”

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