tennessee-valley-authority

I’m careful not to attribute any particular resistance or slight or opposition to race. But what I do believe is that if somebody didn’t have a problem with their daddy being employed by the federal government, and didn’t have a problem with the Tennessee Valley Authority electrifying certain communities, and didn’t have a problem with the interstate highway system being built, and didn’t have a problem with the GI Bill, and didn’t have a problem with the [Federal Housing Administration] subsidizing the suburbanization of America, and that all helped you build wealth and create a middle class — and then suddenly as soon as African Americans or Latinos are interested in availing themselves of those same mechanisms as ladders into the middle class, you now have a violent opposition to them — then I think you at least have to ask yourself the question of how consistent you are, and what’s different, and what’s changed.
vox.com
Obama: if you were fine with big government until it served black people, rethink your biases
The president speaks at length about race with Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Atlantic.
By German Lopez

Here’s some real talk from President Barack Obama, taken from his conversations with Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Atlantic:

I’m careful not to attribute any particular resistance or slight or opposition to race. But what I do believe is that if somebody didn’t have a problem with their daddy being employed by the federal government, and didn’t have a problem with the Tennessee Valley Authority electrifying certain communities, and didn’t have a problem with the interstate highway system being built, and didn’t have a problem with the GI Bill, and didn’t have a problem with the [Federal Housing Administration] subsidizing the suburbanization of America, and that all helped you build wealth and create a middle class — and then suddenly as soon as African Americans or Latinos are interested in availing themselves of those same mechanisms as ladders into the middle class, you now have a violent opposition to them — then I think you at least have to ask yourself the question of how consistent you are, and what’s different, and what’s changed.

I found this rusted old sign off the beaten path while walking on the abandoned Old Citico Road this afternoon. The sign was a survey marker for the TVA, acting as an indicator of the land they had confiscated before the completion of the Tellico Dam in Lenior City. There’s no telling how long the sign had been there, but considering that the Little Tennessee River Valley was flooded in 1978, it may have very well sat there for nearly 40 years or possibly longer. I’ve done some research on this particular sign’s design and according to what I’ve found, the Tennessee Valley Authority had used these during the 1930s. They are extremely rare finds, given that they were made of porcelain. It is possible that the TVA may have already started surveying the area when the property was owned by the Carson family, who had owned and operated one of the largest dairy farms in the southeast at the time. This can be found off the abandoned Old Citico Road in Vonore, Tennessee.

3

Outside Susan Holmes’ house in southeastern Oklahoma, visitors are welcomed by an entryway lined with oxygen bottles and a machine that collects and concentrates oxygen from the air.

“I take two inhalers twice a day,” Holmes says. “And I have a nebulizer that I use four times a day, and I use oxygen at night.”

She says her asthma returned when she moved to Bokoshe, a decaying town of about 500 people that is flanked by old coal mines. The huge pits have now been filled with hundreds of thousands of tons of coal ash.

About 130 million tons of coal ash are produced every year. Power companies used to keep it in big, open holes called coal ash ponds. No lining was required to stop leakage, and no monitoring, to even know if it was leaking.

Then, in 2008, a ruptured dike spilled more than a billion gallons of coal ash slurry from a pond operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considered classifying coal ash as “hazardous waste.”

The utility industry lobbied hard — and successfully — to avoid the hazardous waste designation. So in 2014, EPA’s new rules said coal ash was not hazardous.

Now, power companies must recycle the ash, store it more securely on site, or send the ash to landfills.

But in the towns where that ash is ending up, nobody is quite happy with those options.

Communities Uneasy As Utilities Look For Places To Store Coal Ash

Photos: Joe Wertz/Stateimpact Oklahoma and Molly Samuel/WABE

Later on this afternoon, my dad and I rode to Lenoir City to pay a visit to this infamous dam, a dam that is hated and despised by the people who once lived in the Little Tennessee River Valley prior to its flooding in 1979.

This is the Tellico Dam, which impounds the Little Tennessee River. It was built as the direct result of greed. In fact, this dam really doesn’t serve much of a purpose besides “flood control”. Unlike Calderwood and Chilhowee dams, Tellico Dam is not a hydroelectric dam. Basically, its main purpose is to regulate the lake levels throughout the year. During the summer, water is let out of the gates to allow for recreational purposes. During the colder months, the gates are shut off, leaving the water levels lower.

When I had approached the dam, I didn’t know what to expect. There was an air of silence about it. The gates had been closed off, leaving the mossy concrete exposed. When I looked at it, I kept myself composed. After all, I grew up on the stories of what the Little Tennessee River was like. It was beautiful and the land was peaceful. There were farms littering the valley that were blessed with fertile soil from the river. There were neighborhoods. There were homes that had belonged to families for generations. There were ancient historic sites that the Cherokee once lived in. The dam destroyed ecosystems. The river is gone, replaced by a polluted lake. There were memories somewhere, hidden deep below the murky waters of the lake. The dam was so small in comparison to the others I have visited, but it destroyed so much. What it didn’t destroy is now in ruins. In some of my previous posts of explorations in Vonore, Tennessee, many of these abandoned sites were supposed to be underwater. This is land that the TVA confiscated. You can imagine how people felt after these sites remained above water.

I swore that I never wanted to see it again as long as I lived.

Photo: "Unparallelled Worlds"
External image

There was something so mysterious about this unfinished Tennessee Valley Authority nuclear plant. Maybe it was the rebar dancing out of the concrete, the darkness that swallowed the lower floors, or the lime green grass breathing life back into this facility. Whatever it was, it brought me ecstasy. 

If you’ve never walked through one of these abandoned time capsules and stood in the place where nobody has worked, lived or been a patient in since it shut down, it’s an incredible experience that can’t be parallelled. 

8

Here is a series of photos that I had found online of the Little Tennessee River Valley and the Tellico Dam. I tried my best to put these pictures in order, like a pictorial timeline of events.

The first two photos are of the Little Tennessee River Valley in the Vonore, Tennessee area. The first photo was most likely taken in the early 70s. It is actually featured in the Fort Loudon State Park museum. The second photo was taken in 1979, the year that the Tellico Dam was completed.

The third photo shows the Tellico Dam in its earlier stages of construction. The dam’s construction started around the 1960s, so it would be a safe bet that this photo was taken during that time. Notice the wooden bridge behind the dam that has cranes on it. This was probably used to build the retaining wall behind the structure itself.

The forth photo shows a little bit more progress on the Tellico Dam. An interesting thing to notice is the bridge that is in front of the dam. We actually found its ruins, but they were covered with boulders.

The fifth photo was taken during the same time period as the forth, but from a different angle. The gates to the Tellico Dam had not yet been completed. Construction on the dam was temporarily halted during the lawsuit involving the snail darter controversy, Tennessee Valley Authority vs. Hill.

The sixth photo shows an aerial view of the completed Tellico Dam in 1979. The Little Tennessee River is beginning to flood the valley as its path has been blocked off by the dam. The lake it already beginning to form.

The final photos are screenshots that I had taken from Google Earth of the dam site as it is today. You can plainly see the Tellico Reservoir in both screencaps–the first being in Loudon county and the second, Monroe county, specially Vonore. Many of the islands listed in Vonore are actually underwater.