Dam Builders

Workers of the Chickamauga Dam Project


March 27, 1940

The men who built Chickamauga Dam pose for a group photo. They came from a very diverse range of ethnicities and class. In just 4 years, a mighty river was dammed - islands slipped below the new waterlines, never to be seen again. Entire towns would be moved. Chickamauga Dam's hydroelectric generating capacity was 160 megawatts - now vital to America's new defense role in WWII.

Chattanooga had suffered serious flood damage in 1867, 1875, 1886, and 1917. When the Tennessee Valley Authority was formed in the mid-1930s, it assumed control of navigation and flood control operations in the Tennessee Valley and to enhance navigation along the river. After extensive surveying, TVA chose the tip of Chickamauga Island over several other sites surveyed by the Army Corps in the vicinity. The Chickamauga project was authorized December 31, 1935, and dam construction began January 13, 1936.

I glory in it as one of the great social and economic achievements of the United States. Citation: Franklin D. Roosevelt: "Address at Chickamauga Dam Celebration, Near Chattanooga, Tennessee.," September 2, 1940.
A bridge over the dam would not be completed until 1955.

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