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June 3, 2020 13 min
The lake from one of the all-time great movies (search your feelings, you’ll find that it’s true) is turning into a dried up mudhole. Turns out it has some unusual features. Learn more about your ad-choices at
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Episode Transcription

The text below is machine transcribed.

Hey I'm welcome to the short stuff, I'm Josh, there's Chuck Jerrys over there. This is short stuff gitty up now, ive and the time of our life.


I can't even sing that without thinking of the Great Simpsons Joke Yeah same here, the half time of our life Yep Meso greatwith, Dolly Parten, is snoopy. Oh, that's right, yeah tha as a good one, so we're talking about dirty dancing and specifically mountain lake outside of Blacksburg Virginia, where that was the location of Kellerman's lodge mountain make lodge doubled his Kellerman's Yep for the eighty, seven classic film dirty dancing.

It did and that lake actually was a character in the film because they practiced in a little bit of foreshadowing Johnny Castle and baby practice, their dance move where he lifts her up over his head, which is basically the thing that brings the whole house down in the movie. It's like the climax of the movie is this dance move and they practice it in the lake.

That's right, quick, shoutout, Jennifer Gray is still around in great. She was in that TV show that I've benged red oaks that is so Fanta, Oh really, that our buddy John hotchman is in ses. She plays the mom and she's wonderful, that's great. I got to check that show out.

Patricks wazy has left us lip yeah. He was wonderful man, hell of a dancer, great fighter, itspretty good actor, great singer, she's, like the wind, okay.

I thought it was a good, so I get chills every time I hear it's still. Well I say no, this is short stuff, but I'll rank it as dancer fighter actor singer in order of his best. You know his talents.

I won't dispute that order, but it's just tha spectrum of greatness, okay loved, a man he's great.

So that's what I say so the actual name that lake, like you said, is Mountain Lake and the actual name of the resort. That's that was supposedly Kellerman's resort, which I think it was supposed to be in like the poconos. Wasn't it Yeah Not Virginia, but there's the the resort is actually in reality. Called Mountain Lake Lodge and the people who own Mountain Lake Lodge and the people who are investors in Mountain Lake Lodge they're, not very happy about things these days, because Mountain Lake keeps draining and it keeps draining and what was once a lodge in a resort that was based on fun in the Sun on this lake and Virginia is now turning to things like archery and horseback rides and telling guests exactly why the lake is about at thirty five percent of its normal capacity yeah, if you just google dirty dancing lake today or Gazebo or boardwalk, and you will see that that Gazibo and doc boardwalk or the in the middle of the field yeah.

It's really creepy yeah, it's very weird and we're going to tell you why right now, mount make is one of two.

Only two Natural Lakes in Virginia Georgia has zero. They have two yeah in the southern Apalachian mountains and over the years and we're talking every few hundred years, this lake empties and fills back up again, naturally yeah, which is kind of weird and over the course of the six thousand years that this lake has been around, which I just find that so fascinating. Don't you that a like has only been around for six thousand years: Yeah Yeah! I love that.

But anyway, the sixhusand years it's been around. It's actually empty three different times: chucklite completely emptied Yeh. So there's two guys that figure heavily and sort of why this mountain make is like. It is, there's this one guy. What's his name, Chester Watts, Chester, skipwats right, skip his derivative of Chester? Obviously so he's a geologist, and he knows a lot about it and there's this other Guy John Calli caw Ley that wrote his dtorralthesis on Mountain Lake, one thousand nine hundred and ninety nine, and they have explained that mountain lake has holes.

There has little holes on the bottom, a lot of them that continually drain this water out and they've done dietest. I think, watts to the dietest and found that this water's coming out about a mile from here - and it's been doing this for six thousand years yeah.

They literally got to the bottom of it.

So that's it I mean that's the mystery holes, but the thing is: is the people over at Mountain Lake Lodge want to know?

Why is it getting worse like? Why would this if, if these holes have been here for all six thousand years, first of all, why didn't we start to notice this until like two thousand and twoand? Secondly like? Why isn't it filling back up? Why does it just keep going down and down and down, and so how, I think was it cowlly who explained it as a water budget yeah?

He said if you think of it, like a bank account, you got, you got money coming in, you got money coming out, you want more money coming in, so that bank account gets bigger and it's the same. With this lake, you have inflow an outflow and at various times throughout the history of this lake, there's been more outflow than inflow right, and so there was a drought that actually started in the t at that led to this this lower inflow and which meant that there was more outflow which explains it partially, but it doesn't fully explain it we'll get real really like reveal.

What's going on with this mystery after these messages who justokay chuck so there was a drought sure which means that there's more water going out than this coming in that's great, because the drought ended, but the people at mountain like lodge said well, the drought ended everybody, and this lake is still not filling up.

What is the deal they actually were so upset about this?

They paid Jerry, Seinfeld to come, get on the phone and ask what the deal was about it.

It was a lot of money to, but it got everyone's attention, so he said there's a few reasons.

He said it's not just one thing, you can't say it's even these two things: it's sort of multifaceted, he's three iteit's. Only three so you've got the the drought, which did not help you've got when mountain make lodge, was built a conference center above the lake and to comply with building the saying they had to construct stormwater management basins, and they said you know what wil probably happen is I don't know if they said that, but what they assumed? I guess what happened was that water would still get to the lake as groundwater ighbut they found out that wasn't happening. It was going to a crick yeah.

Is that what you say you call it a crick, it's a creek boy. You just threw me off some people say Crick, though right sure I think you know country country, folk who say warsh m you wark Er Rick exactly so that was kind of a big surprise that that water wasn't going where they thought it would because it's I guess these things are fairly close to the lake and since it's above it, they just assume to trickle down.

So that's a big problem right and so the geologists are saying. Well, I'm I guess one thing you could do is plug the holes. If you want and then hopefully the rainfall will kind of raise the levels, but you want to plug these holes one at a time and Mountain Lake Lage A to light and they plugged them all at once and yeah the scare, the Bi Jesus out of the geologist well, in the reason they did. This was because they knew that one of the other facets of why it was draining was the sediment cycle, and it's just like I something gets stuck in your sink train. It's going to drain slower and at various times throughout the history of this lake.

There might be things either stuck in or not stuck in so just happened that after dirty dancing, there was not much stuck, and so it was draining out a lot quicker than it normally might have.

Yeah Jennifer grave was like thank God.

Patrick Swazy wasn't alive to see this shameful thing.

So how did they plug these holes Wele at first in the first aparently? They were aware.

I don't know if they lost memory of it or thought it was an anomaly or thought it would just go away, but in the first half of the twentieth century, at some point, the mountain lake logs used mattresses to stuff into the holes.

How big are these I tried to find it?

I don't know, I'm not sure how big they are, but from what I understand there's more there than they thought yeah.

So one few mattressisn't going to help, but also like what poor belhop did they send down there to drag a mattress down to the bottom of a lake and try to stuff it in a hole? Okay, I your no, you know, that's who did it of course, so that Wrigh on it?

That was their first attempt and the second attempt was much more technologically advanced. They stuffed dirt and clay into it.

Yeah dirt clay is that what what the Bentonite is yeah it's like expanding clay, yeah that makes sense they should have got some of that foam stuff that you spray and mouseholes. They basically just sped up the yeah great stuff yeah.

They basically just sped up the sentiment cycle, but they overdid it because this lake said nature will find a way and just started popping new holes yeah, it's crazy. This reminds me of the exploding lakes episode way back when but yeah the water level never got to full pond or for a full pool is what you can call it yeah I like that more a football yeah and they there is water there, there's more than there was in two thousand and eight like. If you look at pictures from two thousand and eight that's when it was literally a field thereis a little bit of water, but you can't canoe or anything. You can't swim.

It's kind of sad to be honest, to look at it, but there's something to be said for archery and horseback riding sure yeah, especially Orchard Archery, on Horseback, Oh wow, yeah, you get some, you can level up Yif! You do that stuff yeah. They comp your room for the night, but Watt said that you know what they could redirect water from another local watershed. Just gravidy feet it down in there.

He said that would probably do it, but you got to be really careful because, like we seen like the domino effect when you start messing with nature like that, but he said that would probably work if they want to explore that.

I don't know if they are or not.

I know, but we'll see, I don't know.

The Mountain Lake Lodge Board clearly does not bow before nature.

No, it does not no well that's it.

I guess we'll have to revisit this in a few years to see what happens to mountain lake. Hopefully it'll come back tnot just for mountain like lodge brefer.

The culture is a whole, the culture that loves dirty dancing right.

That means everybody that short stuff is out stuff you should know, is production of IHEART radios howsstuff works for more podcast to my heart radio, because it the IHEART radio at Apple, podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite, shows

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