The Fairmount Web Spot
Lake Galatia.

Lake Galatia

The Lake

Lake Galatia Map

About four miles (six kilometers) northeast of Fairmount is a tiny lake called Galatia. The southernmost natural lake in the state, it lays in the middle of a long stretch of peat prairie that was once the lake's bottom.

The bog around Lake Galatia is notorious for swallowing up anything too heavy for it to hold. The old Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad railroad, built across the bog at the start of the twentieth century, would sink from time to time until the company abandoned the line in the 1990's.

In the 1930's part of State Road 26 sank into the bog in a single night. Construction crews worked for days filling in the roadbed until it finally stopped sinking.

Yet, just as the bog gobbled up stuff, it also occasionally brought stuff up. The first was the skeleton of a mammoth discovered in 1904 and now at New York's American Museum of Natural History. Other prehistoric skeletons, including a giant beaver now at Chicago's Field Museum, have also been unearthed.

The lake itself, a favorite haunt of fishermen, is reputed to have no bottom. In fact the waters of the 17-acre (6.9-hectare) lake are three meters deep, but are so murky from the bog that it seems bottomless.

The Village

In 1854 a group of settlers planted a village on the northern edge of the bog near the lake. These settlers were spiritualists who wanted to set up a community based on the guidance that the spirits of the dead would provide.

During one of their meetings, a visiting pastor from a local Methodist church started his sermon by quoting Paul of Tarsus: "You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?" The villagers took those words to heart and named their settlement Galatia.

The spiritualists were not welcome by their Chrisitan neighbors. Their spirit guides proved even less helpful. They promised a railroad line soon to be built through the village. It failed to appear. Within ten years the village vanished. Today only its name remains.

(The irony to all this was that the railroad did appear — decades after the village's collapse.)

Copyright © 2013 by Andy West. All rights reserved. Last updated 11 August 2013.