Celebrating 85 Years of Service- TVA- Dams, Lakes, and Trails
The future of the Tennessee River Valley was signed into law on May 18, 1933 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. With that pen stroke, change was coming to this region known today as the 9 Lakes.
The plan for the purpose and mission of the TVA was set forth as one of the many New Deal programs enacted during the Great Depression to improve economic conditions. The people of the Valley were primarily rural subsistence farmers or people who had migrated to larger river communities that were prone to devastating floods from the Tennessee River and its tributaries. Most rural families did not have electricity or modern conveniences available to the urban dwellers, and were dependent on manual labor to keep their families fed. In the cities, seasonal flooding brought a different economic misery of disease and destruction of homes and businesses.
A Changing Landscape:
The landscape of the 9 Lakes looked very different in 1933. While there were many flowing rivers and streams, there were no large natural lakes. Similarly large tracts of denuded hilltop ridges stripped for timber, crop fields, and extraction mining provided a bleak landscape compared to the wooded ridges and forests of today’s scenery revered by so many visitors. Construction of Norris Dam in 1936 began a transformation of land use planning and created the first of the 9 Lakes- Norris to fulfill the TVA mission of building “for the people.” .
Of note is that the same visioning ideas used in the planning and developing the Great Smoky Mountain National Park were used for the Tennessee Valley regional visioning plan. Also of note was that the challenges faced during the building of the Park were faced by TVA in fulfilling the mission of taming the river and electrifying the Valley, especially in the Norris Basin Dam. In both cases, private interest clashed with public benefit. In both cases, the work was carried out by the Civilian Conservation Corps, another of the New Deal programs. On September 2, 1940, Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated the National Park, a place built “for all the people of the country and the rest of the world to enjoy.”
Each county and community in the 9 Lakes Region has a story to tell. The TVA has not only built the dams which created the 9 lakes, but has built bike trails, water trails, campgrounds, and boat ramps throughout the region. Visit the community contact pages to learn more about the TVA amenities located in each county.