The time:1920

The place: Hazel Creek

An area filled with mountain Appalachian communities. People who worked together to build the local school houses. Bare feet that walked forest trails home or to the favorite fishing spot. Fresh dirt breaking underneath the hoe, the earth waiting to embrace the life giving seed.

Life wasn’t easy, but it was home.

You would have no idea that one day the roads you walked, the churches you attended, the land you plowed, and the home you built would be below water, a tribute for FDR’s creation of the TVA.

On May 18, 1993 President Franklin Roosevelt signed the TVA Act. The TVA’s purpose was to help control floods, produce electricity, and improve the quality of life for those who lived in the Tennessee Valley.

Indeed, many of the goals of the TVA were met. Electricity became more widely available, especially to those who did not live near cities. The TVA gave funds to hire people to work with farmers, and to introduce new farming practices. Flooding was reduced drastically. My grandmother will still talk about the flash floods that use to sweep over the land, how half of the old home was swept away by one such flood. You can go visit the cabin today, and gaze at wonderment at how far and fast and violent the river would have to be to reach the old homestead.

One goal of the TVA was to “modernize” the Valley. Malaria affected thirty percent of the population and the average income was 630.00 per year, although some families survived on as little 100.00. Erosion, and poor farming practices had depleted the soil and caused crop yields to fall. The TVA created new fertilizers, taught farmers better farming practices, replanted forests that had been lost to lumber and burning, and improved the fish and wildlife habitat. However, the change that most impacted the residents in the Tennessee River Valley was the availability of electricity.  

Though there were a lot of great things to come with the formation of the TVA, getting changes to be successfully received by the locals was difficult. Over 15,000 people were displaced with the creation of the dams. And in many of the areas, remote geographically and vastly different in way of life, government agencies were suspect. So the TVA found leaders in the community and convinced them of the benefits of the new farming practices.

If you don’t live near a TVA regulated dam, your knowledge or care about them may be superficial. For that matter, most of us who live near them don’t give them a second thought.  But they impact our lives every day.

The TVA ranks as the largest public power company, and has a generating capacity of 31,658 megawatts and delivers power to 8.5 million Tennessee valley residents. The TVA also manages four major reservoirs in North Carolina. The outdoor recreation created by the TVA is phenomenal; Fishing, boating, kayaking, and canoeing are incredible on the lakes and the rivers. Rafting is a huge sport, with some TVA controlled rivers being sites of Olympic events.

The TVA is both historic and pivotal in the commercial driven economy of Western North Carolina, East Tennessee, and Northwest Georgia.  Everywhere you look you see something that is an offshoot of the TVA and its original purpose. So come to the mountains and enjoy history, conservation, and beauty all rolled into one beautiful place.