9 Lakes, history, Lakes
An Ode to Dreamers and Planners
The COVID 19 pandemic has altered the normal busy spring schedule in the 9 Lakes region. State governments have implored us to stay apart to stay safe. Campgrounds have closed and spring events have been cancelled or rescheduled. What is not closed is the opportunity to dream and plan.
The 9 Lakes region shares a history of dreamers and planners, each with a story to tell. One of the greatest stories is the influence of TVA on shaping the future of communities during the economic hardships of the Great Depression. After the Great War, young men came home to East Tennessee and took up their lives in the cities and small rural communities. Farming was difficult and most communities lacked essential services such as water and electricity. When the stock market crashed, the region was ill equipped to deal with the increasing poverty and lack of infrastructure to ease suffering. A change was coming.
That change was a new government program enacted in 1933 under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR’s New Deal birthed TVA as an agency to facilitate programs that would improve the conditions for people living in the Tennessee River Valley. Writer Ernie Pyle wrote that the mission for TVA should be ‘We fix up the Tennessee Valley.’” TVA is best known for bringing electricity to rural communities, but their work also includes economic and environmental missions. During the Depression, jobs were created in the 9 Lakes to reforest stripped lands, build dams to control flooding and improve river navigability, build roads and parks that would serve the people. The 9 Lakes region is unique in that it is home to the first TVA dam at Norris Lake and the first recreational demonstration parks at Big Ridge, Cove Lake, and Norris Dam State Parks.
Today, the influence of the TVA is still felt across the region. Many of the boat ramps, campgrounds, and large tracts of public lands used for hiking and biking are directly tied to TVA’s mission of preserving land for “the people.” TVA continues to develop some of the best loved recreational facilities, bike trails, blueways, greenways and campgrounds in the region. We encourage you to learn more about the 9 Lakes’ recreational assets with this video and look forward to when we can once again share this beautiful region with visitors.
To all of us, stay safe and dream about that next great outdoor adventure.