Workers Trying to Save Giles Co's Mountain Lake

Giles Co., VA - For years, scientists have been trying to figure out what was causing Mountain Lake to drain to the point that it has almost been a meadow for the past few years.

The lake, where the movie Dirty Dancing was filmed, hasn't seen regular water levels since 2002.

The area is really just "fill" from an ancient landslide which has left holes in the bottom of the lake. Until the holes are filled, scientists don't think Mountain Lake will return to normal anytime soon.

For the past two years, Dr. Skip Watts has been helping to manage students and scientists trying to figure out the problem in a joint effort by Radford University and Virginia Tech.

"The natural piping holes are about two feet long by a foot wide. They're sort of rectangular shaped. Basically what they are gaps between rock blocks that came down as part of the landslide." Watts said.

For the past three weeks, crews have been prepping the site to see if the leaking can be stopped.

First, what's left in the lake needs to be drained. Then, equipment will be brought in to fill the piping holes with natural sediment and other coarse material that should stop the lake from draining.

"At some point it's going to go away again. Hopefully not for another 60, 80, 100 years. At least not in my great grandchildren's lifetime," said Bob Donovan, President of Mountain Lake LLC.

The project is coinciding with other big changes at the resort, which includes new owners, new staff, new furnishings, and a new mission.

"It's not your grandfather's hotel anymore. Today's guest is more transient. They want to do more outdoor activities and this place is perfect for it," said Donovan. "We're going to take the hotel back to where it was 25-30 years ago."