Modern Marvels The Tennessee Valley Authority

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Segment Title: Building a Better Life

Hoover & Coulee dams construction shots

NARRATOR: The 1930' was a golden age for heavy construction throughout the United States. President Roosevelt viewed dams as a sure-fire way to provide jobs and rebuild America's battered economy. Dams were going up everywhere.

In a steep desert gorge in southern Nevada, the towering Hoover Dam was rapidly rising. It would become America's tallest dam, measuring 726 feet.

And in the Pacific Northwest, work was underway on the grand-daddy of dams, the massive Grand Coulee project on the Columbia River.

men working and footage of work camps

Hoover and Grand Coulee were built in isolated locations, where men endured a rugged existence in temporary work camps. These tar-paper towns featured raucous saloons and houses of prostitution.

Morgan walks on podium, town shots, children at market and on swings, women inside homes, libraries, cottages

Back in the Tennessee Valley, Arthur Morgan wanted his project to be something more. And so TVA built the town of Norris, Tennessee, five miles downstream from Norris Dam. Norris would be a model community...a vision of what life could be like with proper planning.

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