Modern Marvels The Tennessee Valley Authority

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NARRATOR: Together, this odd couple moved to Tennessee They'd been given the power of kings to transform the Tennessee Valley.

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Segment Title: Moving Mountains

Footage of bulldozer in woods, tree felling, logging trucks, sawmills, bonfires

NARRATOR: TVA didn't waste a single second, and bulldozers were on the move just months after the agency was created. Five-thousand local men were hired immediately to begin clearing land. Whole forests came down so that trees would never clog the dams and reservoirs. The logs were salvaged, and turned into lumber at local sawmills. The brush was burned in giant bonfires.

Footage of water cannon, steam shovels, core sampling

Once the land was cleared of trees, soil was blasted away with a water cannon to expose the bedrock where dams would soon stand. Engineers found a bounty of raw materials in the valley. The hills were rich with limestone, a vital ingredient for concrete. Core samples were drilled to study the suitability of the rock for dam building.

men insert fuses in dynamite

Then, hundreds of men known as powder-monkeys carefully packed the bluffs with dynamite.


Rock crushers

Boulders as big as cars were methodically crushed into pea-sized pebbles, to make concrete.

draftsmen at table

Early on, TVA engineers discovered their mission posed a frightening technical dilemma.


To improve navigation, the valley needed a series of low dams with locks, so that barges could glide along the river-- step by step. But flood control and power generation required high dams -- to trap storm water and slowly release it through electric turbines. Boats could not travel past dams like these.

Wylie Bowmaster

Retired TVA Engineer

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