The Magnificent Obsession of TVA

by Paul L. Evans, (F.ASCE), Former Director of Information; Tennessee Valley Authority, Norris, Tennessee,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1977, Vol. 47, Issue 13, Pg. 73-79

Document Type: Feature article


Before the TVA came, the Tennessee Valley region was one of the nation's poorest: no electricity; deep, gullied erosion of the hilly farm country; periodic devastating flooding of cities like Nashville. The turning point for the region came with the Great Depression and Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. With a multi-pronged attack, the main idea was to try and transform the region. A series of dams was built along the Tennessee River. This halted the flooding, helped to create a navigable river, and generated hydro electric power. The electricity in turn, brought lights to poor Tennessee farms, and helped foster education in a poverty belt. Strict soil conservation and reforestation sharply cut the soil erosion problem. TVA's accomplishments are one of the high points in the history of civil engineering.

Subject Headings: Electric power | Erosion | Agriculture | Floods | Rivers and streams | Federal government | Dams | Hydro power | Tennessee | United States

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